The process of purchasing a house is stressful and complicated, but what can add fuel to the fire is when the owner finds a home defect after the purchase. If the issue is severe, it can be an additional burden, since fixing damages can be very expensive depending on how bad it is. This makes the house a deficit purchase since the owner has to spend more than what he or she originally intended.
Just like with other items in the market, buyers are entitled to know if there is any defect or issue in the house they are looking to purchase. According to real estate experts, sellers must disclose defects during the course of a transaction. In a published article by The Star , they talk about the types of defects in properties.
The first type is the patent defect. This classification includes issues that are easily discoverable. Examples are visible stains on walls and floors, cracks in the wall or windows, or ceiling stains that suggest a leaking roof. As these issues can be easily spotted during home inspections and are visible even to an untrained eye, the sellers are not obligated to disclose them. Therefore, buyers are encouraged to ask specific questions and do their own research.
The second classification features latent defects; these are the ones that are harder to spot if you are untrained and can only be noticed mostly by real estate agents, home inspectors, or experts. Examples of latent defects to consider are structural or fire damage whose impact is not visible without an invasive inspection, weakened walls that might be in risk of collapsing, or toxic mold that can grow around the home if the property has a history of flooding. Under any circumstances, these threats must be acknowledged.
If a house has a latent defect, the seller is obligated to tell the problem if they are aware of it, as some defects might possess threats to the buyer’s safety and health once they start to live in it. Meanwhile, a disclosure is not required if there is a crack in the basement foundation which can lead to water leaks as the house may still be livable otherwise.
All in all, it is recommended for the buyer to try to identify the issues and do a thorough inspection of the house, as the seller’s disclosure obligations are limited. If the buyer can afford it, they can get the assistance of a sales representative. Sales representatives are useful in taking all the reasonable steps in determining the facts that can affect the buyer’s decision to purchase, what things to consider, how much the buyer may consider to offer for the house, and what conditions that they could include in the contract. Sales representatives are also great at asking specific questions to the seller.
If the buyer has already bought the house and only then discovers a terrible damage somewhere in their newly purchased home, there is a warranty that they can look up. According to the website Real Estate Lawyer, buyers are entitled to a warranty under the Contract of Sale. As indicated in this contract, there is an implied warranty against hidden defects, change, or encumbrances that has not been declared or known to the buyer. Those hidden defects must not be visible or noticed by the buyer who can be either an expert or not in real estate.
However, there are still some conditions. First, the defect must exist at the time of sale and it has to be serious or important. The vendor must also be given the notice at a reasonable time within the prescriptive period, and there are no waivers involved.
According to Lamudi, the best solution to the overall problem is that for the builder or developer to fix the problem. If the developer or builder failed to fix the problem, then there are local government agencies where the home-buyer can submit a formal complaint, such as the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB).
However, before filing a complaint, the owner should try to communicate with the builder and developer first. Big developers such as Megaworld, Ayala Land, or SMDC are expectedly more likely to comply faster. Smaller build-and-sell businesses might take a longer time.
However, note that if the buyer already signed the Deed of Absolute Sale (DOAS), a refund is not applicable. This is because the DOAS certifies that the property has been fully paid for by the buyer and the ownership of the property has already been transferred to him or her.
Ultimately, homebuyers are always advised to seek assistance from real estate professionals, contractors, and other experts before finalizing a transaction.