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Virginia’s residential property disclosure rules

Buying a house is an important financial step in the life of a family. In addition to being the family’s home, a house also often represents a family’s most costly, and valuable investment. If it turns out that the house is not in the condition which it appeared to be in, what started as a family dream can quickly degenerate into a nightmare.

At best, a family may have to spend thousands of dollars in repairs or write off a lot of equity in the home. At worst, the home may turn out to be unlivable, and the family will need to move. It is therefore little wonder that, these days, the old legal doctrine of let the buyer beware does not apply to the sale of homes in Virginia.

Instead, those who are selling a home in the Blacksburg area have an obligation under the laws of this state to fully disclose certain defects in the home. Generally speaking, the seller has to perform reasonable diligence before filing out these forms, which in plain English means that a seller cannot turn a blind eye to possible defects in the home.

On the other hand, sellers are not going to be expected literally to tear apart the walls of their house before putting it on the market, nor are they expected to have the level of expertise as would an engineer or other professional. Filling out Virginia’s Residential Property Disclosure Statement accurately and completely is an important part of any real estate transaction.

On the one hand, no seller wants to scare off a potential buyer, particularly over a past problem that by every account has been fixed. No disclosing a defect when one has a duty to do so is both unethical and unlawful. A buyer who relies on a defective or incorrect disclosure may be able to obtain compensation from the seller after the fact.