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Surprising Lessons from Nelson v. Wiggs

August 16, 2017 Posted in Blog

In the case of Nelson v. Wiggs [699 So. 2d 258 (Fla. 3d DCA 1997)], the home in question was on an unpaved road in an area in Dade County that floods routinely. The houses in the area are all built on stilts. During the rainy season, the roads become impassable. Only big trucks and other off-road vehicles can make it through. The Nelsons purchased their home during the dry season, and they had no idea about the annual flooding.

 

flooded road

          The Court held that the seller was not required to disclose the situation, given that the information was available to the Nelsons, had they inquired.

          The Court stated: “for a seller to have a duty to disclose, the material facts must not only be unknown to the buyer, but also not ‘readily observable.’ The Supreme Court did not define these words. Our concern is whether the Supreme Court intended that a buyer must be able to discern the relevant facts by simple visual observation of the property, at any and all times, or whether it had a broader meaning in mind. We have concluded that the court’s intended meaning was broader.”

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