Let's say you just bought a new two-story home in Albuquerque. As you unpack upstairs, you realize there's no water coming from the faucets. In fact, there's no running water at all on the second floor. Somehow this went unnoticed when you were viewing the home.
What's even worse is that the owner knew the whole time and didn't disclose that issue. But was the seller required by law to disclose all the issues with the home, including the fact that you have no water running upstairs? And what legal action can you take to have the seller fix any major issues such as this that were not disclosed?
Disclosure Laws in New Mexico for Home Sellers
The state of New Mexico requires sellers to disclose defects in a home to buyers. Albuquerque home sellers are required to provide buyers with a written disclosure of all material defects on the property of which they have knowledge of. This disclosure should be given to the buyer before the contract is signed. Usually the seller's real estate agent will take care of this.
The seller is also required by state law in New Mexico to disclose tax burden information. According to New Mexico Statutes § 47-13-4, the seller must “(1) request from the county assessor the estimated amount of property tax levy with respect to the property and… specify the listed price as the value of the property to be used in the estimate” and “(2) provide a copy of the assessor’s response… in writing to the prospective buyer or the buyer’s broker.”
New Mexico is somewhat unique when it comes to requiring both of these disclosures. It helps buyers to avoid unpleasant surprises from home defects or having a huge tax bill they didn't expect.
What Are Your Rights as a Home Buyer in Albuquerque?
If you buy a home in Albuquerque and it turns out that the home has issues that were not disclosed, what can you do? Here are some details about the disclosure form that will shed light on your rights as a buyer.
The bottom of the disclosure form contains important language. It states that: “This is not a contract.” That means the seller isn't guaranteeing anything. They are only required to disclose defects that they know about. And the seller is not required to hire a home inspector to check the before checking the “no” box on the disclosure form.
There is also a second important statement on that form: “The law does not protect a Seller who makes an intentional misrepresentation.” In other words, if the seller knows that the AC doesn't work and doesn't disclose that fact, then they could be charged with fraud.
Furthermore, to continue with the AC example, if the contract promises that the AC would be in good working order, and it's not, this would cause a breach of contract.
So if you as a buyer find yourself in this situation, you need to immediately write to the seller, broker, or both, stating the problem and outlining your damages. You can also send a demand letter to the seller, and this may persuade them to settle the dispute. But before you take legal action, you should weigh the cost of litigation against simply fixing the issue yourself. Suing someone is probably going to cost more than fixing a refrigerator.
In the end, when you buy a home in Albuquerque, you have a measure of protection against dishonest sellers. And as a seller, it's a good idea to fully disclose any defects in your home that you have knowledge of, or it could come back to get you later.