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This question pertains to real estate law in the state of California. I recently purchased a house and moved in this past weekend. Yesterday, the first rain event of the season occurred, and several water leaks became readily apparent. The leaks occurred in spots where there was no existing evidence of past leakage. One leak is around a window sill and one is from the roof. During the inspection, we found no indication of any areas that might have had any existing water leaks, and this is something that I paid particular attention to.

When the seller signed the Transfer Disclosure Statement, they did not indicate any leaks or water damage. Before escrow closed, I was made aware that the seller had completed a variety of repairs including: pavement, new windows and roof repairs. It was my understanding, and the impression conveyed to me by both my and the seller's agents that the repairs were all related to marketability of the house.

My first thought is that I did not ask enough questions as to why the repairs were made. This brings me to my question. Is the seller required to have disclosed any existing known issues if repairs were made to correct those issues? Also, if it turns out that the repairs made did not correct the original issue, does that change what the seller should have disclosed?

  • If you have time, it'd be interesting to hear how this turns out. – Just a guy Nov 23 at 17:30
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The Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement asks numerous question, and these are the things that a seller is obligated to disclose. The most obviously-applicable question is

Are you (Seller) aware of any of the following...8. Flooding, drainage or grading problems

Leaks are not covered under the ordinary meaning of flooding, drainage or grading problems. There is no general requirement to disclose repairs.

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TL;DNR: Maybe, maybe not. To find out for sure, talk to a California lawyer who does real estate law.

Dang! That can't be fun.

As you know, under California law, sellers are required to disclose a lot of information. They have to disclose so much that at some point, most buyers stop listening/reading and start nodding and grunting "Uh, huh, ok" and blindly checking boxes. Whether the buyer was supposed to tell you about these particular problems depends on CA real estate law, including how California courts have interpreted the CA statutes.

To find out whether CA law is on your side, I would start by looking at sites that focus on CA real estate law. Searching using disclose + leaks + California + "real estate" shows there are a lot of them. Nolo.com, a generally reliable outfit, even has a page discussing Legal Remedies If a California Home Seller Conceals a Defect. I'd look at some of these to see if there's any chance you have a case. If you do, I'd then talk to a California lawyer who does real estate law. (As a first step, you might talk to your broker.)

Good luck!

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