A home is one of your largest purchases. Finding out there is something wrong with your home after closing can be devastating. Latent and patent defects are types of problems that can arise with a property. Latent defects are hidden or concealed problems that are not readily apparent to a buyer, while patent defects are obvious or visible problems that are readily apparent to a buyer.
What are latent defects?
Latent defects can arise from a variety of causes, such as poor construction, inadequate maintenance, or a lack of disclosure by the seller. These defects can have significant financial and legal implications for buyers, as they can cause significant damage to a property and can be expensive to repair. For example, a latent defect in the foundation of a building can cause structural damage that can be costly to fix. In some cases, latent defects can even make a property uninhabitable.
In order to protect themselves from latent defects, buyers should take several steps when purchasing a property. First, they should conduct a thorough inspection of the property before making an offer. This can help identify any potential defects and allow the buyer to negotiate a lower purchase price or request that the seller make repairs.
Second, buyers should carefully review any disclosure documents provided by the seller. These documents may provide information about known defects or potential issues with the property. By reviewing these documents, buyers can gain a better understanding of the condition of the property and can make an informed decision about whether to proceed with the purchase.
Finally, buyers should consult with a real estate lawyer before entering into a purchase agreement. A lawyer can review the agreement and help ensure that it includes adequate protection against latent defects. They can also provide guidance on the legal rights and responsibilities of buyers and sellers in the event that latent defects are discovered.
What are patent defects?
Patent defects, on the other hand, are problems with a property that are readily apparent to a buyer. These defects are typically visible and can be easily identified during a property inspection. Examples of patent defects include a cracked foundation, a leaky roof, or a malfunctioning HVAC system.
Unlike latent defects, patent defects are typically not grounds for a buyer to cancel a purchase agreement or seek damages from the seller. This is because the buyer is expected to have noticed the defect during the inspection process and to have accounted for it in the purchase price. However, if the seller has actively concealed a patent defect or has otherwise misrepresented the condition of the property, the buyer may have grounds for legal action.
The bottom line
In summary, latent and patent defects are types of problems that can arise with a property. Latent defects are hidden problems that can have significant financial and legal implications for buyers, while patent defects are readily apparent problems that are typically not grounds for legal action. By conducting a thorough inspection, reviewing disclosure documents, purchasing a home warranty, and consulting with a lawyer, buyers can protect themselves from latent defects and make an informed decision about whether to proceed with a property purchase.