Let's start off with basic definitions of defects you will need to know about when selling or buying a property (courtesy of the Nova Scotia Real Estate Commission):
A patent defect is a property fault that is easily spotted by a potential buyer, such as a broken pane of glass, old roof shingles or peeling paint. A latent defect is a fault in the property that would not be easily detectable by reasonable inspection of the property, such as a serious crack in the foundation that has been covered over with paneling or improper wiring covered by drywall. Material latent defects are latent defects, which may have a serious impact on the value of the property or involve health and/or safety issues.
As a seller, when completing a PDS (Property Disclosure Statement) you will be required to disclose all of the above to the best of your knowledge.
As a buyer it is up to you to review this 3 page document with your agent, address concerns if any and ensure you will be conducting a professional home inspection to assist in you in making a firm purchasing decision.
Your REALTOR® and home inspector will often recognize signs of Material or latent defects to bring to your attention which will prompt further investigation using a contractor/plumber/electrician etc to obtain more detailed information and knowledge of associated costs.
Here are just a few things to watch for during an inspection:
Knob & Tube wiring
In the Annapolis Valley we have a wide range of styles of homes and ages. As an example, homes built or renovated between 1920-1975 main contain asbestos tainted wall plaster. Is this an issue? Only if you decide you want to take down a wall or two. Is it manageable? Absolutely.
It's been my experience that if home buyer knows about a defect going into a purchase they are less likely to be concerned and become proactive about dealing with the problem. It's when they don't know, a lot of money can be spent and people end up in court.
Have a great day,