When I was still practicing law I made a very good living representing buyers and sellers in disputes arising out of mandatory disclosure documents which change hands during the purchase of residential real estate in California. In fact, in 2000, some estimates had 1 in 5 residential real estate transactions having some type of attorney involvement in order to navigate a dispute arising after the close of escrow. This incredibly high number of disputes was/is due to a number of things including, the willful withholding of material information by sellers, negligence by sellers in fulfilling their disclosure obligations and outright incompetence on behalf of the real estate agent.
Sellers in San Carlos are especially susceptible to falling victim to disclosure issues for a variety of reasons. Many homes in San Carlos have unpermitted work, are on hillsides, are close to schools and parks, have drainage issues, etc. Additionally, many sellers are receiving poor advice (or none at all) from their agents regarding disclosures. In just the past year I have had three buyers purchase property in San Carlos where we uncovered items prior to the close of escrow that should have been disclosed, but were not. In one of the cases we did a little bit of digging and found a blatant misrepresentation regarding unpermitted work. On the buy-side, if you and your agent are not on your toes you may be in for a big surprise down the road.
As I have mentioned a few times on the blog, most sellers and agents are so consumed with the highest and best price that they tend to ignore the second part of the transaction which is the diligence surrounding the disclosures and risk assessment. Of course I want to maximize the price for my sellers, but that same effort needs to be put toward making sure that once escrow closes, the transaction is truly a done-deal.
On the buy-side you and your agent need to read the disclosures carefully. Conduct your own investigations into the statements made by the sellers. If you feel that your agent is not being vigilant enough with regard to researching these issues you should contact their broker. You may also want to have an attorney immediately review the documentation. Paying an attorney $1,500 to review the documents on a $1,000,000 purchase is a worthwhile investment if your agent is not representing your interests adequately.