Seller Tricks

10 Most Common Seller Tricks

 

sellers tricks and issues
The photo was taken of one of the seller tricks! Sellers try to hide issues under scatter mats!

Unfortunately, it can be difficult when unscrupulous sellers use tricks to hide defects. Here are the 10 most common seller tricks, and how you can recognise each one of the issues.

A home may be the biggest purchase you’ll ever make. So it makes sense to do everything possible to ensure you’re making a sound investment.

Painting over problem areas. 

Fresh paint itself is not a sign of dishonesty, but it can be used to cover water stains, mould and more. Many honest sellers use paint to update or freshen up walls. Take note if many areas were recently painted and mention that to the home inspector. You can also ask the seller for before-and-after photos.

Choosing to remain in the dark about potential problems are seller tricks. 

By law, a seller cannot be held liable for problems he or she didn’t know about. Thus, a seller trick is not to allow home inspections to be performed when it’s time to sell. Another seller trick is not to agree to a reasonable inspection contingency time period. Some will even tell potential buyers they don’t want to know what the home inspection reveals. This is all the more reason to get a thorough home inspectionIt’s a small price to pay to ensure you’re making a sound investment.

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The Voetstoots Clause

voetstoots clause

The Infamous Voetstoots Clause!

voetstoots clause in the estate agent's offer to purchase
The seller does not have your interests at heart! The Voetstoots Clause protects the seller, not YOU! Do the wise thing! Put an inspection contingency clause in the Offer to Purchase which says the offer is dependant on a satisfactory home inspection. Then, have a home inspection to protect yourself!

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Hidden defects could result in expensive repairs!

Be careful with the voetstoots clause! You are not protected from defects by the Consumer Protection Act with the voetstoots clause in an Offer To Purchase unless you are buying from a developer or builder. All the offer’s to purchase I have come across of all from estate agents and lawyers have the voetstoots clause. You can have the estate agent remove the clause but your offer will most likely be rejected!

In certain instances of concealed defects, you have recourse to the law. A legal determination will need to be made as to whether a defect was deliberately concealed or not. This will determine who is liable for costs. This can be expensive!

But you can reduce the risk with the Voetstoots clause if you make yourself aware and do the following:

Voetstoots and Patent and Latent Defects

A patent defect is clearly visible upon inspection. This may include items such as a crack in a wall or window, chipped plasterwork etc. The offer to purchase should clearly state who is responsible for repair or replacement.

A cursory inspection does not easily pick up a latent defect, e.g. a faulty geyser, a damp area concealed behind furniture or fresh paint, or a leaking roof.

Common law states that the seller is responsible for all latent defects for a period of three years from the date of sale.

The seller should supply all warranties and documentation of repairs and maintenance on the transfer of the property. Make sure that you are aware of all patent defects!

The seller and the voetstoots clause

Sellers stipulate that the property is for sale ‘as is’ (“Voetstoots”) in the belief that they can avoid expensive repairs. However, the seller remains responsible for any deliberately concealed latent flaw or defect.

The difficulty arises in that the burden of proof lies with you, the buyer, as to whether the seller knew, or ought to have known of the latent defects. This also determines whether you can cancel the contract, or claim some repayment from the seller.

You and the voetstoots clause

The offer to purchase document or seller’s disclosure should contain all detected faults. The fault records must also state which party will be responsible for repairs.

You can insist on certain guarantees, e.g. under ‘Special Conditions’. For instance, you can stipulate that; “The Seller warrants that the swimming pool on the property is not leaking at the date of signature hereof by him”.

For your own protection, you should negotiate a Home Inspection Contingency with the seller.

The estate agent (property practitioner) and the voetstoots clause

An important document is the “Seller’s Property Disclosure” which should form part of the offer to purchase. Sellers should disclose problems in the house to the best of their belief and knowledge. However, what the seller “believes” and what is actually true often diverges a lot!

The estate agent is a facilitator and not a party to the contract. Therefore, you can only prosecute an estate agent in terms of the Consumer Protection Act. This applies if the agents ‘supply’ of service was in contravention of the CPA.

If you are unhappy with the service given by the estate agent or estate company, or you suspect that they have violated either the law or the code of conduct governing the industry, it is always better to try and resolve the problem with them first. If you are still not happy you can approach the Estate Agency Affairs Board. The property practitioner’s ombudsman still has to be appointed as required by the Property Practitioners Act.

Protection against the voetstoots clause

With a home inspection report by THE HOME DETECTIVE, you get an accurate, comprehensive description of the true condition of the home you intend to purchase. You, the buyer, the seller, the estate agent and conveyancers can thus be a party to a fair deal.

The cost of the inspection is normally for your account.

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