Pennsylvania Superior Court Clarifies the Real Estate Seller Disclosure Law Requirements

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The Pennsylvania Real Estate Seller Disclosure Law (“RESDL”) was passed in 2000. Under this enactment, sellers of residential real estate are required to disclose to buyers any material defects with the property known to the seller by completing and providing a disclosure statement. The Pennsylvania State Real Estate Commission has developed the disclosure form for use by all sellers. Over the years since the passage of the law there has been a belief by some that the disclosure requirements of the law could be circumvented by simply including the words “as is” in the real estate sales agreement. Though it has taken nearly 18 years, the Pennsylvania Superior Court has recently made clear that the requirement that sellers provide buyers with disclosures of all known material defects in the disclosure form may not be avoided simply by including the words “as is.” The recent case of Phelps v. Caperoon has settled the question and, in doing so, has reinforced the Pennsylvania legislature’s intent that home purchasing in Pennsylvania shall not be governed by the principle of caveat emptor.

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