Everyone knows to disclose, disclose, disclose when selling their home. Does that include providing a prospective buyer with old reports of physical inspections? Yes!
California Civil Code section 2079 requires your realtor to conduct a reasonably competent and diligent visual inspection of the property offered for sale and to disclose to that prospective purchaser all facts materially affecting the value or desirability of the property that an investigation would reveal. "Material facts" are those from the buyer's viewpoint and include anything that would affect the buyer's willingness to buy the property and pay the price he or she is offering to pay. So while a realtor may not see an old report, he or she may learn about it from the seller and should thereafter disclose it and provide it. California Civil Code section 1102.1 states that a realtor and seller must provide previously received reports of physical inspections. In Gilbert v. Corlett (1959) 171 Cal. 2d 116, a seller of real property was found guilty of fraud against the buyer by failing to disclose a prior engineer’s report that the property under contract had soil condition issues. Sellers are often hesitant to provide old reports because (a) they are old; (b) repairs have been done; or (c) the seller may have a more current report or a cheaper bid. Even if the report falls in any of these categories, it is better to disclose and provide them. If an explanation is warranted regarding the report, then take the time to draft one. The worry is often that the old report will harm the marketability of the property. In hot markets, properties sell, even with damaging reports.