Godfrey, Leibsle, Blackbourn & Howarth, S.C.
Godfrey, Leibsle, Blackbourn & Howarth, S.C.

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Elkhorn, WI

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Minimizing your risks if you buy a home “as-is”

While many people in the market for a new home would never consider even looking at one that’s for sale “as-is.” (There are fewer of these on the market than in the past because home-buying or house-flipping businesses are willing to buy them.) Some sellers, however, would prefer to at least give the house a shot on the open market to see if they can get a good price. 

There isn’t necessarily anything nefarious or defective about a home for sale “as-is.” The owner may just not want to put the time and money into fixing it up only to sell it. They may have inherited a home they don’t want and would rather get as much money as they can for it as quickly as possible. 

If you’ve found a “for sale as-is” home in the perfect location and can see the potential in it once you’ve made upgrades and repairs, how can you help ensure that there aren’t serious problems you’re not aware of?

Full and accurate disclosures are still required

When an owner lists a home “as-is,” they still have a legal obligation to disclose known defects. Wisconsin home sellers must complete a Real Estate Condition Report disclosing structural defects and other issues. Federal law also requires disclosure of toxic substances like lead paint, asbestos and radon.

Sellers also have to disclose things like liens on the title. If the property is part of a homeowners’ association (HOA), details about that (including fees) need to be disclosed as well. 

Inspections are critical

As a prospective buyer, you have the right to (and definitely should) have the home inspected by at least one professional before you put down any money or make any commitments. You’ll probably need to do this at your expense, but it can be well worth it if it prevents you from buying a “money pit.”

If you choose to move forward with the purchase, you likely won’t be able to include any contingencies in the purchase and sale agreement. For example, if an inspector finds mold, that’s something you’ll need to deal with if you buy the house. You can’t expect the seller to pay for the remediation. 

If you’re a skilled and experienced do-it-yourselfer, an “as-is” home at a good price may be a welcome challenge. However, it’s crucial to understand your rights throughout the process. Having legal guidance can be an immense help.

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