A few weeks ago, I wrote about whether you have to disclose a ghost in your home. What happens if there is something a bit more concrete, such as a flood? And what if it happens after the agreement is signed?
Generally speaking, damage is divided into latent and patent. Latent defects are things that only the seller could possibly know, and must be disclosed, such as damaged insulation that could not be found by a potential buyer. Patent defects are “obvious” problems, like an old electrical panel that is clearly wired wrong. Buyers are responsible for noticing patent defects, and the law is fairly clear that anything a home inspection could uncover counts as a patent defect, whether or not you got a home inspection, as long as the seller didn’t prevent you from having one.
Defects that happen after the offer fall into more of a grey zone. If you put an offer on a house that had never had water damage, you would probably want to know if there was a flood two days before closing, even if it was a minor one, because you might be concerned about underlying problems that could have led to the flood that could be expensive after closing.
Generally speaking, when in doubt, disclose.