Disclosure Laws Differ by State, but Professional Ethics Do Not -BYLN-

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), October 6, 2017 | Go to article overview

Disclosure Laws Differ by State, but Professional Ethics Do Not -BYLN-


Q. We bought a house a couple months ago and there are railroad tracks running behind the back fence. The sellers and the Realtor said the tracks were used on weekends only for an old, historic train that takes tourists to the Fort Worth Stockyards. This was stated in the listing flier and in the disclosure statement.

What they concealed from us was a bill that was passed by the city council two years ago opening these lines to commuter trains that will be running as frequently as every 20 minutes. When we asked our Realtor why this wasnt disclosed to us, she said they only had to disclose the railroad tracks existence and not what will eventually be running on them in the future. We believe this was totally dishonest, but we dont know if we have any recourse. What can we do?

A. If the Realtor and sellers knew about the upcoming change in railroad traffic, it is amazing they can justify this kind of deceptive behavior: to misrepresent vital facts in the transaction; to violate the confidence of trusting homebuyers by withholding information that would significantly affect the value and desirability of the property; and to do these things with no apparent sense of wrongdoing?

Real estate disclosure laws vary from state to state. Some requirements are more strict and exacting than others. In your state of Texas, disclosure standards deal almost exclusively with actual physical defects on the property. In some states, such as California, there are requirements to disclose additional issues, such as "neighborhood noise problems or other nuisances," which of course would call for disclosure of train track usage.

Aside from the stated legal requirements for real estate disclosure, there is a common understanding throughout the real estate profession that agents and sellers should disclose any condition that would affect a buyers desire to purchase the property in question. …

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