How to Find Undisclosed Problems in Home Sales

Talk to the Neighbors

When talking with each nearby neighbor, you can often find a lot of evidence in real estate fraud cases. For example, a seller who denied there were any roofing problems on their SPDS will have a hard time explaining why they asked neighbors for roofing referrals in the months before listing the property.

Signs of Repairs

We often see sellers trying to fix up their property on their own or with cheap, cosmetic repairs. While these repairs may work well enough to conceal any problems during the inspection period, often times new problems will appear after closing. Sometimes the repairs weren’t done properly, and other times something will wear out near the repair site. If the buyer has a problem with the property after closing, often times we can ask the contractors whether it looks like any work was done in that area recently. This can reveal evidence of a recent repair that the seller failed to disclose.

Maintenance Paper Trail

Whenever an investor receives a maintenance request from a long-term tenant, the investor should ask the tenant what he knows about the history of related problems. That tenant will know whether he’s made similar maintenance requests, whether there was a pattern of similar problems, and what the prior owner said about them. Moreover, he may have a long history of correspondence with the prior owner related to that problem. This information can be extremely valuable in trying to determine the cause of the problem and the best way to fix it.

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