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Obligation to investigate

As a buyer, you have a legal duty to inspect the house properly and find out as much as possible about what is happening in the neighborhood. This is known as the obligation to investigate.

It is not always necessary to do a building inspection. Still, If hidden defects later lead to a lawsuit, and the judge will always ask what you did to investigate the property beforehand.

In turn, the seller has a so-called obligation of disclosure. They do not need to blackmouth their own home or mention every leaking faucet, but they must provide truthful information, especially when explicitly asked.

A list of questions helps bring possible misfortunes to the surface. For example, asking questions such as 'has there ever been a leak at the roof or in the basement' will paint a clear picture of the state of the property.

Questionnaire about the property

The sellers should include the bulk of their duty of disclosure in answering a questionnaire about the property (questionnaire part B). This questionnaire is part of the annexes package with a preliminary sales agreement. The questionnaire contains questions about the property's structural condition and whether any repairs have ever been made (and if so, by whom and when).

The importance of doing your research

You want to know as much as possible about the property, and there are quite a few options. Knocking on neighbors' doors is the most helpful trick. You will meet the neighbors (sometimes people relocate because of the neighbors...) and learn about the area and possible problems with the house's foundation, for example.

You can also check the property's sales history. If the property has changed hands often, that could be a reason to look for causes. Recurring rat infestations, noisy neighbors, and disturbance from a nearby motorway are just some sources of misery.

You can also inquire at the municipality. For example, what are the plans for the neighborhood? What zoning plans might affect it, etc?

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