Neighbors Know

: Buying and selling a home should be smooth, stress-free, and complete.  When risk survives the recording date, it usually involves a “disclosure issue” by the seller.  Lawyers are able to identify a “reasonable” guideline that proves a sellers’ existing knowledge should have been disclosed to the buyer.  Lawyers are good at finding a way into deep pockets.  And those pockets now include the listing agent and broker.

These seller omissions can be expensive.  They can be MUCH more expensive than a honest exposure or remedy before or during escrow.  A simple replacement of a water heater; a roof repair; a septic service; a disclosure of a non-permitted trench with electricity (shielded and in conduit, but not 6ft deep); a disclosure of the meat smoker that was used in the garage; etc.  These are all easier to fix or disclose than spending months (at best) with lawyers after escrow closed. 

But how do the new owners determine existence of an issue? Other than the obvious malfunctions in plumbing, structure, or climate control, there is 1 key source of information that can prove to deem the prior owner (seller, YOU) a “fraud”.   

Digging a trench at night, meant for a 110V conduit to the shed, is something that should be disclosed.   The neighbor was part of that trenching effort.  If the seller doesn’t tell, the neighbor will.

Odors and aromas frequently came from your new garage.  Those odors were not present during inspections.  And who knows an Odor Inspection company? (Even my required inspection is only VISUAL, your honor).  Sellers may never disclose the kitchen that was moved to the garage.  But their neighbors will.

Neighbors are critical.  Whether acres away or attached, a neighbor can bring comfort and peace of mind.  Neighbors always have flour or eggs when we don’t.  Neighbors are home when our deliveries need a human.  Neighbors have lights and a presence which offer better security than the Police.  Neighbors have room in their Green Waste can.  Neighbors help.  Neighbors become family.

Some neighbors, however, should be disclosure items themselves (if you know what I mean).  By the way, the rule of thumb for determining if you should disclose a “rough” neighbor to your buyers:  Would you wish you knew?

Undocumented improvements, done well, can still add grief to the new owners’ lives.  Trades’ person quality can appease many buyers until sleep or life is interrupted by an issue the Seller should have disclosed.  Don’t tempt an attorney to avoid a possible non-issue.

We should treat all neighbors as family and friends.  We are their neighbors, after all.   And the neighbor that tells your secrets may have meant no harm.

Disclose.  Disclose.  Disclose.  Or your Risk will survive your escrow.