Disclose or Not Disclose?

Sellers, it is in your best interest to disclose any known material facts about your property when you decide to sell. Your Realtor® can help you create that disclosure list and ensure that all potential buyers are aware of any facts that may affect their decision to purchase your property.

Disclosure of facts is definitely a way for any seller to avoid a potential law suit.  However, the law in Ontario still puts the onus on the Buyer, as in Buyer Beware.  There are certain details that are required to be shared, according to provincial laws. These disclosure details depend on the nature of any potential defects the home may have. Specifically, Ontario law differentiates between two types of defects. These are patent defects — problems with a home that are visible to the buyer or to a property or home inspector — and latent defects which are problems that are not easily detectable, even by an expert.

Latent defects are those that should be disclosed.  You will find, online, so many different opinions on whether a seller should disclose a defect or not.  My personal advise, as a professional Realtor® is disclose, disclose, disclose.  Don't take the chance of being sued after the sale.  You may win, you may lose, but a law suit is not fun for anyone...they are time consuming, stressful and costly for everyone.

Patent Defects

Patent defects are those that are readily visible to a buyer on a viewing or a home inspector. There is no obligation on the seller's part to disclose patent defects. These may be things like a crack on the basement floor, water marks on the drywall, a chimney that is showing signs of falling over, or missing fixtures, for instance.  The onus is on the buyer to be vigilant and to do their own due diligence.  It is prudent to have a home inspection done prior to firming up on any offer to purchase.  Buyers, you need to be examining the home during your showing, viewings and inspections to watch for patent defects so that you can address them prior to offering.

Latent Defects

Latent defects or Hidden Damage are defects to a property that are not generally discoverable by a prospective buyer on a reasonable inspection and ordinary vigilance. This can include issues such as, faulty electrical wiring hiding behind the walls or a well-hidden termite or mold problem. Home inspections are not exhausted, a home inspector can only do a visual inspection, they can not poke holes in the wall.  Tough for a home inspector to discover hidden defects.  It's the hidden defects known to the seller that can cause that seller issues in the future.  It is in the seller's best interest to disclose latent defects to the best of their knowledge.  Buyer's you need to have your Realtor® ask about hidden defects and share with you so you can make an educated decision to buy.

Some Things to Disclose*

  • Roof leak that is ongoing but not visible
  • Dispute with the neighbour over boundaries
  • New development in the area
  • Structural and mechanical issues
  • Septic that does not work
  • Chattels included that do not work
  • Natural & Environmental Hazards
  • Regular Flooding
  • Improvements without required permits
  • Mold, insect & rodent invasion

Buyer Beware

Kathy Dimaline is a Real Estate Broker for RE/MAX Grey Bruce Realty Inc. The comments on this Blog are the opinions, only, of Kathy Dimaline and do not constitute any legal advice or legal opinion and does not represent the interests or opinions of RE/MAX Grey Bruce Realty Inc., brokerage.