Searching for a Tucson home is merely one step in your journey to homeownership. Once you put an offer in on "the one", you should receive a Seller's Property Disclosure Statement ("spuds" for short). Read it over carefully as soon as you receive it. What it says may change your mind on how to proceed with your Tucson home purchase.
What is a Seller's Property Disclosure Statement (SPDS)?
By law, the seller must divulge any information they know about any flaws or defects that could negatively impact the value of the home in question. They do this via the Seller's Property Disclosure Statement. In Arizona, this is better known by its nickname: "spuds". In this statement, the seller talks about any past repairs they know about, even if they happened before the seller owned the home. Was the house treated for pests (termites, mice, bedbugs, etc.)? Have there ever been any plumbing issues? Water damage? HVAC problems?
If the previous owner disclosed this information to the seller before they purchased the property, the seller is legally obligated to pass along the information to you. However, the seller cannot be held liable for issues they were never told about or didn't experience personally.
How to Handle Problems on the Seller's Property Disclosure Statement
Schedule your home inspection for sometime after you've had a chance to look over your seller's property disclosure statement. Ask your inspector to pay particular attention to any issues that came up on the disclosure form. They'll be able to give you more information as to the severity of the situation, whether it's resolved and if there is further attention necessary. From there, you can determine if the issue is one you can live with. If not, you have two options. First, renegotiate the sale price to reflect the cost of repairing the issue(s). Second, walk away. If you added a home inspection contingency to your sales contract (and you should), you are allowed to walk away with your earnest deposit money in hand.
Visit the Arizona Associaton of Realtors' website to view a sample SPDS form. This provides you with a glimpse of what information to look out for. If you find out later that the seller omitted information about the property that they should have disclosed before the sale was complete, they could be held legally liable for the cost of repairs and/or damages. Consult a real estate attorney before filing any lawsuit. If you have any questions about the SPDS form, please contact me.