Legal Question in Real Estate Law in Wisconsin

My elderly mother is selling her vacation home. After full disclosure, is she liable for any period of time for property defects that might arise after closing?

Asked on 7/18/12, 10:50 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

Maxwell Livingston Law Offices of Maxwell Charles Livingston

Possibly, if you were asked to repair and the repair was negligent or reckless (during escrow). Does that make sense? Email for assistance.

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Answered on 7/18/12, 11:21 am
James N. Graham Accession Law LLC

There are no ways to absolutely limit a seller's liability after closing. There is a 6 year statute of limitations which will apply to legal actions brought for claims on the purchase contract. Such claims might arise under warranty or under the representations made in the real estate condition report which typically is incorporated by reference into the contract.

Further, Wisconsin has a false advertising statute which may apply to a seller who makes a false or misleading statement to induce a buyer to purchase a home. Under � 100.18(11)(a), if the buyer proves his case, the buyer can recover any monetary loss plus costs and attorney fees.

Even the use of an "as-is" clause does not relieve the seller's duty to fully disclose the condition of the property. For example, in Green Spring Farms v. Spring Green Farms, 172 Wis. 2d 28 (Wis. App. 1992), some calves on the property had been killed by salmonella bacteria. The seller apparently believed that the problem had been alleviated. Nonetheless, the seller sold the property "as-is." The buyer later experienced problems with the salmonella contamination and the Court held that the seller had a duty to fully disclose material adverse conditions even though the transaction was "as-is." The rationale is that the seller has this material information and the buyer is not able to discover the information.

A seller should discuss any known or suspected property conditions with an attorney to determine what to disclose when and how.

Attorney James N. Graham of Accession Law LLC is providing a general answer which does not establish an attorney/client relationship and which is not legal advice. Contact attorney James N. Graham in order to discuss the terms of retainer and the information needed in order to obtain a legal opinion, recommendation, or advice. The first inquiry for an attorney is to know only the parties involved in order to check for conflicts of interest with current or former clients.

Accession Law LLC

6401 Odana Road

Madison WI 53719

Tel/Fax 877.621.3111

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Answered on 7/20/12, 6:28 am

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