Legal Question in Real Estate Law in California

We bought our house in 2007, they previous owner,(by cutting two windows in), caused the roof to sink, and the rear wall to buckle, while repairing this problem we discover that they feiled to disclose extensive fire damage, and had covered it up with ABS wood and metal flashing, both on the house and shed. The wood looks like it was pulled from a campfire, Do we have any recourse on the seller, agent, or inspector ? this is a very expensive problem, any help is welcomed and appreciated.

Asked on 5/12/13, 10:34 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Timothy McCormick Libris Solutions - Dispute Resolution Services

It is unlikely that you have any recourse against the inspector. Unless you request and authorize, and the seller authorizes, destructive testing, there is no way the inspector could know about things that have been covered over. They can only inspect what they can see. As for the agent, they have a duty of inquiry as to the condition of the property, but they are not able to find hidden defects either. So unless you find a smoking gun (pardon the pun) that shows the seller or someone else told the agent and they kept it quiet, you won't get far with the agent. With the seller, it depends on what you can show they knew. They have a duty to disclose the statutory list of things along with anything that would materially affect the value or desireability of the property, but only to the extent they know. If the fire happened while they owned it, you have an easy case. If it was three owners ago, and they had no way or reason to know any more than you did, you may be out of luck. It's all about who knew what when, and if they didn't disclose what they knew.

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Answered on 5/12/13, 8:12 pm

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