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Failure to disclose real estate shortcoming can lead to charges

Entrepreneurs who buy neglected homes, renovate them and then sell the properties for profit can earn themselves sizeable incomes. However, compliance with the law is essential, especially when it comes to disclosure of information that might hurt the real estate value during a sale. Concealing such information could lead to fraud allegations, litigation and conviction.

In Texas, a seller must disclose deaths resulting from violent crimes or dangerous conditions on the property, even if those conditions have been rectified. Nuisances such as noise or smells from neighboring properties must be disclosed, and under Texas law, the presence of toxic or hazardous materials must be pointed out. These include asbestos, radon gas, urea-formaldehyde insulation, lead-based paint and any previous methamphetamine manufacturing that took place on the premises.

The presence of a homeowners' association must be disclosed, and Texas laws require sellers to inform potential buyers of repairs done on the structure and roof, along with potential structural defects, soil movements, electrical repairs, plumbing problems and more. Previous or possible water damage must be pointed out, and in Texas, the seller must provide a list of inclusions such as kitchen appliances, heating and air conditioning, exhaust fans, gutters and more. Sellers must also advise buyers of the presence of wood-eating insects such as termites, and any termite or wood rot damage and repairs must be pointed out.

Any person in Texas who becomes involved in a real estate dispute -- regardless of whether it is the seller or the buyer -- will likely think twice before rushing into litigation. The logical step might be to discuss the problem with an experienced real estate attorney for assessment. A skilled lawyer can assist with negotiations between disputing parties, which might bring a quicker and less costly resolution. However, such a professional will be prepared to take the case to court if necessary and protect the client's rights while seeking the best possible outcome.

Source: investopedia.com, "Real Estate Flipping: 8 Disclosures You Must Make", Amy Fontinelle, Accessed on April 21, 2017

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