What "As-Is" Is Not
Thursday, May 28, 2015
Orlando REALTOR® | May/June 2015
"Let The Buyer Beware" doesn't apply in residential real estate
By Roland H. Acosta, Esq.
It is important to understand that buying a house using an “As-Is” contract is not like buying something at a garage sale. “As-Is” does not mean that the seller can hide negative information from the buyer.
A seller is required by Florida law to disclose all known defects that could materially affect the value of the house. A seller who withholds valuable information can be held liable for such action regardless of whether the transaction is conducted “As-Is.”
“Let the Buyer Beware” does NOT apply in residential real estate sales. If the seller fails to disclose any known defect, even in an “As-Is” contract, the seller is absolutely liable. This is “strict liability.” There is no need to show “fraud” or even “evil intent.”
When a buyer is not informed about a material issue related to residential property in Florida, the buyer may have the right to rescind the deal and/or sue for money damages resulting from the failure to disclose. This is true whether or not the failure to disclose was unintentional or a mistake.
Specific laws have been passed to make sure that buyers are informed of especially important information (Fla. Stat. § 689.261). Other things are not required to be disclosed. For instance, it is not necessary to disclose a homicide, suicide, death, or diagnosis of HIV or AIDS infection of occupants of real property (Fla. Stat. § 689.25).
Bottom line, in Florida, sellers of residential real estate must disclose all relevant information about the condition of the property (past and present) as well as repairs that have been done and repairs that need to be done.
Roland H. Acosta, Roland H. Acosta & Associates, P.A., is a member of the Central Florida Real Estate Attorneys Council. CFREAC provides this column on real estate law issues as a service to ORRA members for general understanding of the law, not as a substitute for individual legal advice or consultation and should not be relied on in specific situations without consulting with a real estate attorney. For more information, please visit www.centralflrec.com.