Real estate and property law involves buying and selling property. Part of the process of buying and selling property involves disclosure, which is the act of the seller revealing any defects the property has, such as electrical problems or water damage. In addition to disclosures from the seller, a buyer has a duty to inspect and research the property they are interested in purchasing. This informs them about any potential defects that may be unknown to the seller. A person who fails to conduct proper research may not have a legal recourse to reverse the real estate transaction.

What Does Caveat Emptor Mean?

Caveat emptor is Latin for “let the buyer beware.” In real estate law, the buyer of a property has the burden of exercising proper care when purchasing real property. This means that it is the buyer’s responsibility to conduct the appropriate research and caution when selecting the property prior to the completion of the sale.

Who Does This Rule Protect?

It protects the seller from liability when a buyer has remorse for making the purchase over something that they failed to notice simply because they did not make any effort look at the property before buying it.

Does This Rule Apply to New Home Purchases?

Typically, caveat emptor applies only to forced sales, “as is” sales, and sheriff’s sales. Whether the rule of law also applies to new home purchases depends on the jurisdiction.

Does a Seller Have to Inform Me If a Property Is Stigmatized?

No, unless it will noticeably affect the value of the property. A stigmatized property is a real estate where something normally considered unpleasant occurred, such as:

  • Suicide
  • Murder
  • Cult activity
  • Phenomena
  • Criminal activity
  • Sex offender lived in the residence
  • The previous owner had AIDS/HIV

Is It Possible for Caveat Emptor to Not Apply?

Yes. A seller does have a duty to truthfully disclose important facts pertaining to the property. Any time the seller lies or misrepresents facts about a property, then caveat emptor no longer applies.

What Constitutes Misrepresentation?

A seller can misrepresent facts about a property by:

  • Remaining silent when they are required to say something
  • Not telling the truth
  • Giving evasive answers

Do I Need an Attorney to Assist Me with Caveat Emptor Laws?

Yes. In order to avoid any potential problems with buying property, contact a real estate attorney.