A selling broker or agent has a duty to conduct a visual inspection of residential property offered for sale and to disclose all facts materially affecting the value of the property to a potential buyer. See Cal. Code Civ. Proc. §2079 et seq. To be safe, a broker or agent showing a home should fully disclose all defects to which he or she becomes aware during the course of the visual inspection. The standard of care owed by a broker or agent is the degree of care that a reasonably prudent real estate broker or agent would typically exercise during such an investigation and is measured against the broker’s or agent’s education and experience.
The aforementioned duties do not completely absolve the buyer of any responsibility regarding obvious defects—a buyer nonetheless remains responsible for protecting himself from things that are known to or within the attention and observation of the prospective buyer. In other words, a prospective buyer cannot blame the broker for failing to disclose that the back window is broken and boarded up where that fact is obvious to anyone who observes the property.
The inspection contemplated by Section 2079, et seq., is quite limited. No such inspection involves any area of a residential property offered for sale that is reasonably inaccessible, and does not require any inspection of public records or permits concerning title or use of the property.
If any prospective buyer believes there has been a breach or nondisclosure falling within the scope of Section 2079, et seq., the buyer has two years from the date of possession—the earlier of close of escrow, date of occupancy, or date of recording—to bring an action against the seller’s agent or broker.
If you have a question or a legal issue, you should consult a real estate litigation lawyer or call the Boesch Law Group at (310) 578-7880 or email your inquiry.
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