Caveat Emptor – Buyer Beware!

Atlanta | Home Owners | Real Estate | Tips |

Caveat emptor, or buyer beware, is still the law in Georgia.   It is the buyer’s duty (not just right) to inspect the property for their own purposes.  This means that the buyer is assumed to know about defects that are obvious and latent.  There is no confidential or fiduciary relationship between the parties in a real estate transaction.  Georgia law only requires a Seller to disclose latent, or hidden, defects.  A Seller is under no obligation to go looking for latent defects. The seller in most cases is liable only if:

  • Seller knowingly lies about existence of a concealed defect;
  • Active concealment of a defect where Seller knows and takes active steps to conceal material defect;
  • Passive concealment of a material defect where Seller knows and does not attempt to hide the problem, but does not disclose.

Paragraph B. 10. c. of the GAR provides a disclaimer that “Buyer and Seller have not relied upon any advice or representations of Brokers other than what is included in this Agreement. Brokers shall have no duty to inspect the Property or to advise Buyer or Seller on any matter relating to the Property which could have been revealed through a survey, appraisal, title search, Official Georgia Wood Infestation Report, utility bill review, septic system inspection, well water test, tests for radon, asbestos, mold, methamphetamine, and lead-based paint; moisture test of stucco or synthetic stucco, inspection of the Property by a professional, construction expert, structural engineer or environmental engineer; review of this Agreement and transaction by an attorney, financial planner, mortgage consultant or tax consultant; and consulting appropriate governmental officials to determine, among other things and without limitation, the zoning of Property, the propensity of the Property to flood, flood zone certifications, whether any condemnation action is pending or has been filed or other nearby governmental improvements are planned. Buyer and Seller acknowledge that Broker does not perform or have expertise in any of the above tests, inspections, and reviews or in any of the matters handled by the professionals referenced above.   Buyer should seek independent expert advice.

ALTHOUGH AGENTS HAVE NO GENERAL DUTY TO DISCLOSE.

TIPS:

  • Never complete a seller’s disclosure statement;
  • Qualify statements with “Buyer should make their own investigation”, especially if providing an old survey of the Seller.
  • Remember ethics! You work with other agents and only have one reputation.  If you know about something that you feel should be disclosed, talk to your broker and make an informed decision.
*For informational purposes only.  Not to be relied upon as legal advice.  Nothing in this blog should be construed as creating an attorney-client relationship.  MMH is not responsible for, does not endorse or accept liability for any externally linked site or its content.  MMH does not give any representation regarding the safety, reliability or accuracy of the content or materials contained on any external website.