Failure To Disclose
The old phrase "honesty is the best policy" often has an invisible caveat for home sellers, and it goes like this: "... except when you're trying to make money." Owners who know there are serious issues with the property might put a buyer off making an offer sometimes because they choose not to mention the issues in the hopes that they can get away with the buyer's money before they realize anything is wrong. Although, most home sellers you encounter are going to be open and honest when it comes to the condition of the home or condo, we just want buyers to be aware there are those out there that will try to get away without disclosing the truth.
There is an official disclosure process that sellers are required to follow during a home sale. When you make your offer, they are required to fill out a disclosure questionnaire about their property. It will ask them a variety of questions regarding pest problems, flooding, utilities, and other common home issues. Their agent then forwards it to the buyers for them to go over. The seller is required by law to answer truthfully, so if they know there's a problem, such as the sewers back up during the spring thaws, and they don't tell you, this constitutes failure to disclose.
Thank you to Mortgage Talk Canada for their explanation of a Property Disclosure Statement. Go here to read it.
Never trust sellers at their word. Always, always, always get a home inspection. Heck, if your gut tells you there's more going on than the home inspector found, get a second one. Even if you're pretty knowledgeable about home renovations, you don't know everything that you're supposed to look for, so always get a professional in. He or she will inspect your home from top to bottom and will often turn up evidence of issues that the homeowners were less than forthcoming about.
Home inspections will not turn up everything, however. There are some problems that can occur periodically in houses that the inspector cannot detect unless he comes to the home while the episode is in progress. Termites and flooding leave evidence, but noisy airplanes overflying the house on Tuesday mornings or a brutal murder having taken place in the house years ago are not always obvious. Still, they can cause you big problems both psychologically and financially.
So what are your options if you've found a problem that the seller failed to disclose? You can sue them. You may think that the seller can merely claim that they had no idea the problem existed before they put up the house for sale, but no court will accept this argument if the seller lived there for several years. Sellers rarely win these types of cases, so sue them for damages. Don't let them get away with pulling the wool over your eyes.
If your home inspection report turned up a issues with the HVAC unit in the property, you can contact a air conditioning and heating company near your location. You can view most likely view products and services by clicking on their website menu. Best of luck with your new home.