In yesterday’s post, I explained the purpose of a property disclosure statement when buying or selling a house. However, when you purchase a house in Connecticut from the estate of an owner who has died, the heirs of the estate do not have to provide the buyer with a property disclosure statement if the heirs are not current residents of the house. Since they are not the actual owners of the home, they are not expected to know the ins-and-outs of the home and its mechanicals and therefore cannot be held accountable to properly fill out a property disclosure statement. That makes sense, how can you disclose something you don’t know. BUT, if the heirs know of a material defect in the home, they are, by law suppose to disclose it.
As I’ve mentioned before, I purchased my home from the estate of a deceased owner. Over time, as I’ve lived in it and discovered certain things (like a rat trap or two in my back yard) and spoken with the my neighbors, I realized that there was a lot more going on with my house than anyone ever admitted to me prior to my purchasing it.
For instance, the original owner loved nature and animals. In the cold weather she would leave the basement door open and put handfuls of sunflower seeds all over the basement floor so animals had a place to warm up and eat. I am sure you can imagine what that lead to (please see note about the rat traps above.) When we first moved in my son was less than a year old and one of the neighbors advised that I not put him on the floor in the basement until we were sure “everything was cleared up”. At the time, I had no idea what he was talking about. I didn’t understand what he meant until an entire year later when another neighbor explained the “infestation” issue. Also, the deceased owner was a hoarder. Yep, just like the ones you see on the A&E TV show only it was right here in Westport. There were bedroom doors that couldn’t be opened because the piles behind them were so dense. According to another neighbor, it was so bad in the house, the Department of Health had to be called in at one point.
There are myriad other things that I’ve yet to uncover and at this point probably never will. Things still pop out in conversations with the neighbors, but quite frankly what little I know is already too much.
What all this leads me to question is…if the heirs and their estate representatives knew what was going on with this kindly old lady, then why was none of it disclosed? I moved a crawling baby into a house that, in the not too distant past, required rat traps. Not mouse traps…RAT traps. Hello, was anyone with a conscience involved here?
I guess all I’m saying is don’t hide behind an estate sale. If you know something about a house you are selling, say something. Honesty always is the best policy. And, to anyone considering purchasing a house from an estate…caveat emptor!