Seller asking you not to disclose a roof leak. What should you do?

One time a seller asked me not to disclose a roof leak and I told him NO.  He gave the listing to another agent and it sold in one month for $700k.  I did the right thing but it doesn't feel like it.  What would you have done?

  • December 10 2012 - Rio Vista
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Answers (19)

You did the right thing. What did the seller put in the mandatory property disclosure statement required by law? Did you check to see the disclosure in the listing when it was listed? If it was not there I would have contacted the other agent to inform them, and in writing, so as to put them on notice of a material fact that must be disclosed by law. You probably tipped off the seller that what they were doing was wrong and they never mentioned it to the next agent that listed it.

              And people think us Realtors are sneaky and dishonest.

tim
  • December 10 2012
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Profile picture for wetdawgs
I would  have contacted the listing agent to make sure they knew about the leak.   Did you?

  • December 10 2012
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Profile picture for user812471
You could have suggested to your client that you could pay to fix the leak and asked for cost to be deducted from escrow account when house was sold or seller to pay you back with interest (%?) if client terminates your contract. 
  • December 10 2012
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User812471,
I can tell you must not be an agent. What if the house does not sell? You have just then paid for a roof repair that you will not be reimbursed for and you are out the money. I doubt many agents would do that.

  • December 10 2012
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Regardless of what the seller may request, If it is a "point of law" such as, your responsibility to "disclosed known defects" you must disclose this information to potential buyers.
Such a "request" is disrespectful to you, as a professional Realtor, and insulting to any potential buyer.
 This issue will no doubt be uncovered during the home inspection process and you will likely lose your buyers as well as cast doubt upon you.

Once trust is lost in a Real Estate transaction, it is impossible to recover it.

Rather fail with honor than succeed by fraud... Sophocles
  • December 29 2012
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Profile picture for Carole Tyne

The seller is the one disclosing - The buyer, their agent, and their inspector should be able to uncover the defect.   Of course, they need to disclose known defects.   Need to advise them possible law suits

  • December 31 2012
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You absolutely did the right thing! You can sleep better at night knowing you are ethical and your reputation is really the main asset you have. I am still amazed that people will try to cover defects when there could be a lawsuit down the road. You may be out the commission but it will come back to you in the future. I say "well done"! 
  • December 31 2012
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I would have done exactly the same thing. "it is better to travel well then to arrive" Buddha.   If more agents cared like yourself, owners wouldn't get away with things like this. Great job!
  • January 07 2013
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Profile picture for Blue in d Nile
I would have stated that if they don't want to disclose it, they need to fix it before putting it on the market.  It needs to be fixed regardless, and waiting until after it is inspected will only cause problems with closing escrow and arguing about who is responsible.

Any good agent buyer's will immediately see the defect anyway.  Paint does not cover up such things.

And if the seller walks?  That is their problem, not mine; but I certainly wouldn't hide information from a new listing agent's broker nor the local board.

Really, how hard is it to patch a leak anyway?  Unless it needs a new roof, usually a couple hours will address most roof leaks.
  • January 07 2013
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Shai,

You should feel good about doing the right thing and not accepting the listing.  I would have done the same thing.  

Chad Gray PA, Realtor
Luxury Living Fort Lauderdale
Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate
  • January 14 2013
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In our state of Indiana if the seller didn't disclose what he knows he could have repercussions later and so could the Realtor involved if they know and don't disclose.  I'm sure it happens that some don't but full disclosure is best and the golden rule.
  • January 14 2013
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That is a tough one and I think all of us would kick ourselves for losing the potential sale but we have a saying in our office "Always take the High Road"   It might not be the easiest path but at least we can sleep at night.
 Plus who knows what else the seller was trying to hide that he didn't tell you about or would have half way through the sale then put you in a really hard spot.
 In my book you did the right thing. 
  • January 14 2013
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Profile picture for catinawillis
If the seller is aware of a roof leak, he/she is suppose to disclose this information on the disclosure sheet. Also, according to Michigan law, a licensed REALTOR is obligated to include this information if it is known.
  • January 14 2013
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I feel you did the right thing also. We cannot choose what to disclose and what not to disclose.  It just doesn't work that way.

I would have told the Seller that they are far more likely to have success disclosing these items up front.  Buyer's are much more forgiving about problems if discovered when they first see the home(the love phase), instead of discovering after in contract.  Also, if it is disclosed up front, it takes away their ability to effectively negotiate the price because of those findings.   If they think the Seller did not know about the roof, then they would certainly negotiate!!  I would!

Real Estate is not about location, location, location, it is about disclosure, disclosure, and more disclosure!

  • January 21 2013
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I would have told him to list with me, disclose the leak, and have it fixed at my own expense since I just cleared $24K on the commish.  If it was a true repair, it shouldn't cost more than $500-1000, not like replacing an entire roof.

Done deal.

Scott Miller
Realty Associates
Boca Raton-Miami Beach, FL
  • January 23 2013
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Profile picture for JoshBarnettREIB
One deal is not worth your license, you did the right thing.  


Josh Barnett, Realtor 
  • January 23 2013
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Profile picture for LaymanSoftWashing
Not to mention if people read these reviews, you just increased your own value by remaining honest.  It's no fun to lose a sale, but you may get paid back by being honest many times over.
  • October 20 2014
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Congratulations you did the right thing! It will be interesting to see what the repercussions after the sale that may occur. In this situation it is not about the money it's about your integrity.
  • October 20 2014
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Profile picture for Hannah Tai Homes
I would have explained to my seller that not disclosing that information puts him at risk for a lawsuit down the line, as well as having a potential buyer backing out once they conduct inspections and "tainting" the listing from then on. If you emphasize how it would negatively affect them as a seller, I think they quickly decide it's not worth the risk. And if they refuse, then let the seller move on to another broker who is not as ethical.
  • October 21 2014
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