“. ..legal developments of the past three or four decades, in Wisconsin, and elsewhere, have substantially increased the protections for the real estate buyer, especially for the buyer of a newly constructed home. ” p. 18-22 Consumer Protection, Wisconsin Real Estate Law 2017 Edition.
Is a single family home seller free and clear of liability by ignoring the Real Estate Condition Report? Not likely. Of course in each situation parties should consult an attorney. The cautions in the Offer to Purchase give us enough of a hint to conclude that a seller is far from safe by omitting the RECR. The Offer to Purchase form as it reads today includes language where the seller represents that he or she has no knowledge of conditions which meet the definition of a defect. (Remember that the RECR is a series of affirmative statements, such as “I am aware of defects in the roof.” )
In the Offer the statement is “the seller has no notice or knowledge of conditions affecting the property OR TRANSACTION. The possible conditions are listed as A through ff. A good number of these match the conditions on the RECR. An owner who knows of a condition affecting the property or the transaction (such as I am not the sole owner of the property) should not sign the Offer as written.
The RECR is dated as of the date the Seller completed the form. The Seller’s representation of no conditions affecting the property or transaction is as of the date of acceptance of the offer. If the known facts are different than shown on the RECR disclosure is expected. A licensee is prudent to advise a seller to consult an attorney before accepting any offer which inaccurately states the seller’s knowledge of conditions. A counter offer is the proper form for notifying a buyer and permitting the seller the opportunity to have some protection.