CALIFORNIA IMPOSES BOTH A COMMON LAW AND STATUTORY DUTY TO DISCLOSE FOR SELLERS OF RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE
In California, a real estate seller has both a common law and statutory duty to disclose facts materially affecting the value or desirability of the property which are known or accessible only to him and also when the seller knows that such facts are not known to, or within the reach of the diligent attention and observation of the buyer.
The statutory duty to disclose is found within a real estate transfer disclosure statement and required by Civ. Code § 1102, et seq. Pursuant to California Civil Code Sections 1102, et seq., there is a disclosure requirement in connection with “any transfer by sale, exchange, installment land sale contract, . . . lease with an option to purchase, any other option to purchase, or ground lease coupled with improvements, of real property or residential stock cooperative, improved with or consisting of not less than one nor more than four dwelling units.” Cal. Civ. Code § 1102(a). Before execution of a sales contract, the seller is required to deliver a statutory Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement to the buyer, which contains a checklist to give notice of problems or potential problems with the property and the disclosures and acts required under the article “shall be made in good faith,” which means “honesty in fact in the conduct of the transaction.” These disclosure obligations are mandatory and nonwaivable even in an “as is” sale.
Accordingly, there is both a common law and statutory duty to disclose any and all facts materially affecting the property’s value.
SELLERS OF REAL PROPERTY IN CALIFORNIA ARE REQUIRED TO DISCLOSE ALL KNOWN FACTS MATERIALLY AFFECTING THE VALUE OF THE PROPERTY
A seller’s disclosure obligation mandates that a seller furnish information to the buyer to enable the buyer to make a fully informed decision on whether to purchase the property. It is well settled in California that where the seller knows of facts materially affecting the value of desirability or the property which are known or accessible only to him and also knows that such facts are not known to, or within the reach of the diligent attention and observation of the buyer, the seller is under a duty to disclose them to the buyer. Failure of the seller to fulfill such duty of disclosure constitutes actual fraud or negligent misrepresentation.
Any matter that is of sufficient materiality to affect the value or desirability of the property, must be disclosed. Undisclosed facts are material if they would have a significant and measurable effect on market value. A seller who willfully or negligently violates or fails to perform any duty with regard to the disclosure requirements is liable for any “actual damages” resulting to the buyer under California Civil Code § 1102.13.
IF MATERIAL FACTS WERE NOT DISCLOSED TO YOU IN CONNECTION WITH YOUR CALIFORNIA HOME PURCHASE, YOU MAY HAVE A LAWSUIT FOR FRAUD AND/OR NEGLIGENT MISREPRESENTATION
Under California’s broad policy favoring disclosure, it is no surprise that there exists a lengthy list of facts held to be of sufficient materiality, including but not limited to the following facts that have been held were wrongfully un-disclosed by sellers of residential real property in California:
– That improvements were made to California residential property without permits
– That improvements were made to California residential property in violation of zoning
– Prior litigation involving the California residential property
– Murder at the California residential property
– That a lot contained filled ground to a substantial depth at the California residential property
– That a house on California residential property was built on filled land
– That house on California residential property was located near an excessively noisy neighbor
A seller’s disclosure requirements are designed to eliminate any surprise discovery of negative facts and/or half-truths in connection with the purchase. If you believe that a material fact or facts were not disclosed to your purchase of property in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Culver City, Hollywood, Malibu, Marina Del Rey, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, or anywhere else in California, please feel free to call the attorneys at Webb & Ord on 323-462-3736 for your free consultation. We are experienced California real estate attorneys and have successfully prosecuted these cases on behalf of sellers throughout California. If a material fact or facts were not disclosed to you in the purchase of your property, you may have a lawsuit for fraud against the seller.