Buyer Beware: What Do Sellers Have to Disclose in Georgia?

You saved your money for a down payment, got rid of debt to increase your credit score, and found the perfect house for your future. Your agent submitted a bid, your contract was chosen, and now it’s time to inspect the home. 

In Georgia, it is your responsibility to do your own due diligence! You can request various inspections to properly assess the home. The two most common ones being a home inspection and a termite inspection. You can also request radon, mold, foundation, soil, chimney and other inspections. Please be aware that you will be responsible to pay all the vendors for the inspections that you request. Ask around and get quotes from several reputable vendors.

Sellers are required to disclose any material defects in the home. Material defects are anything that would pose a safety risk or have an impact on the value of the property. Things like a faulty foundation, electrical, HVAC system…etc. Sellers are also required to disclose the existence of lead-based paint if the home was built before 1978. 

Material defects include latent defects in the property. Latent defects are problems the sellers knows about that are not necessarily visible or discoverable in an inspection.   

The seller is also required to honestly answer any questions asked about the home. So even if the seller did not disclose a particular issue, you can get another chance by asking them directly about the home and any potential issues with the property. It would be best to ask the question in writing so there is a paper trail of the answer. 

The recourse for the buyer after a purchase is a costly and time-consuming lawsuit where you may not win. The lawsuit can be long, expensive, and depending on the repair, may not be worth the costs of the lawsuit. While you may have several assertions against the seller, there is a defense of caveat emptor that will most likely win. Caveat emptor is the legal defense of ‘let the buyer beware’ and the main reason why your due diligence period for inspections is of the utmost importance.  

By Christine Fleury

Christine Fleury is a real estate closing attorney with Origin Title and Escrow, Inc. Since 2003, Origin Title has handled real estate transactions – purchases, refinances, reverse mortgages – quickly and professionally. There will be no surprises, nothing misunderstood. Title searches are thorough and well-reasoned, to avoid unpleasant surprises later down the road. Calculate your closing costs in Georgia or Florida using our calculator or contact Origin Title using this form.