California has long been on the cutting edge of the law, often presaging national legal trends. It is no surprise, therefore, that California was among the first states to abandon the rule of caveat emptor in real estate transactions, enacting numerous statutes that provide a buyer with sufficient information to make a reasoned judgment in buying property. Sellers often run afoul of these laws, however, because they are unaware of the nature and extent of the duties imposed upon them. California real estate practitioners know that their state law imposes stringent duties of disclosure on sellers of real property, particularly in the sale of residential property. However, as evidenced by the amount of litigation alleging inadequate disclosure, the satisfaction of those duties is often misunderstood. This article examines those duties of disclosure. Part II addresses the statutorily-imposed duties, and Part III discusses the general common law duty of disclosure. Part IV notes several actions of the buyer that may ameliorate the seller's liability. Part V examines the exception created for trustee's sales. The article concludes in Part VI with recommendations for the real estate practitioner.
Ann J. Rosenthal and R. Stuart Phillips,
Tell It Like It Is - Sellers' Duties of Disclosure in Real Estate Transactions Under California Law, 26 Golden Gate U. L. Rev.