Despite various investigative reports on Carte Blanche and general media exposure, private property buyers are still getting caught by non-disclosed defects. Although the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) provides relief to most consumers by ensuring that a seller or estate agent discloses all defects, the CPA does not apply to one-off, private sales. These sellers are still protected by the old voetstoots clause. While a quick walkthrough and a second visit to the property for a spot check of the condition of the home can help buyers sift through their options and narrow down the property they would most like to purchase, it is best to have a professional inspector undertake a thorough check and advise accordingly. Eric Bell of Inspect-a-Home, (a professional home inspection company) warned consumers against signing a disclosure before getting the property checked by an accredited inspector. He said countless buyers nationally were left with extensive repair costs after signing the documents as they gave some consumers a false sense of security. “These documents ask buyers to sign off on a number of key areas, including roofing, geyser condition, and damp problems. Unless you are a structural engineer or qualified building inspector, it is highly unlikely that you or the seller will be able to identify any latent defects. Every day throughout the country we see houses that are painted to make them look good and unsuspecting buyers are then taken to the cleaners with extensive and unexpected repair bills once they have moved in – their dream house becomes a nightmare.” He said sellers were liable for latent defects that existed at the time of the sale but, by signing a disclosure document, buyers were signing away their rights to that claim, effectively making the defects the buyer’s problem. He gave an example of a consumer who bought his home through an estate agent who tried to get him to sign a disclosure document which stated that the house, . . .
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