Drainage Disclosure

Q: "I got a call from a couple asking me to list their house. I represented these folks when they bought the home 5 years ago. This property is at the end of a cul-de-sac. I remember it well. The property was formerly some kind of a water detention pond. When it rains, water from the surrounding homes drains down to the subject property.

This home has an extensive system of french drains and a large sump pump in the crawl space all designed to deal with the drainage issues. As I understood it, water could accumulate but it would drain very quickly. The systems in place are there to insure there is no pooling or standing water, etc.

When we were going over the paperwork, the homeowners did not want to disclose anything having to do with this drainage situation. They said there had been no “water events” in the 5 years they owned the home and they were concerned that extensive disclosures would serve to scare away potential buyers. I tried to explain how important it was to make sure they disclosed all of this. One serious rainfall could create a big problem. They told me the sump pump had not been serviced in 5 years.

This is really worrying me. If the homeowners won’t budge on this, I am thinking about walking away from the listing, do you agree? "

A: Yes, I do. As you stated, this sounds like a property that poses a potential for some drainage and water intrusion problems. It is lucky that the homeowners have not experienced any such problems during their 5 years of ownership, but I agree that they should disclose the issues to any potential buyers and encourage any buyers to conduct whatever inspections or investigations they might wish to conduct. If the sump pump has not been serviced in 5 years there is no way of knowing if it is functional. The first heavy rain could cause the crawlspace to fill up with water and who knows what other problems might follow.

Disclosure is always the right thing to do and I hope your potential clients change their minds and take your advice.

Would you like Claudia to manage your liability concerns?