I live in the state of Massachusetts and recently put in an offer for a home. The seller is actually 4 owners for which one passed recently (last year).
During title search, it was found that there was a probate period with unknown period of time to clear. In fact, my attorney brought it up to the Seller team and apparently they had not even submitted a "S petition" to amend the title yet. This probate period was not disclosed to us in writing and in fact, we agreed to a closing date within the normal ~1.5 months from initial offer.

From the buyer perspective, I would have not put in an offer had I known this could potentially drag on. I already accrued fees for attorney, appraisal and inspection. If I walk away from the deal, those are lost.

For now, we are looking to salvage the situation by giving them 6 months to clear probate. Clearly, this ties my deposit and I cannot put an offer for other potential houses. But should the worst situation arise (where I have to pull out of the deal), my direct question is whether I have enough standing to pursue them for the expense I incurred due to their error and actually win?

  • First of all, this steers very close to the ban on legal advice. Second of all, if you can sue for damage depends on if you had actual damage, or if this was superior force - if one of the owners dies right after negotiations began, the damages are much differently if he died and the probate is running or if it is about to close.
    – Trish
    Commented Jul 1, 2023 at 13:42

1 Answer 1


There is no general duty to disclose in real estate sales, except as statutorily mandated. The burden is on the buyer to ask the relevant questions, and not over-interpret what was said. In Massachusetts, there is actually a law stating that non-disclosure is legally irrelevant in certain cases (e.g. "was the site of a felony or suicide"). There are statutes requiring a person to disclose known lead paint and septic systems, otherwise there is no duty on the seller to disclose, instead the law follows the doctrine caveat emptor. Therefore, you must first ask, and not assume anything about the property or the title.

  • I submit that the sellers misrepresented their ability to agree to a contract.
    – Tiger Guy
    Commented Jul 3, 2023 at 7:21

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