Can You Trust That the Seller and Realtor Give You All Important Information on a Home Sale?


The answer is not entirely, at least not completely. Even though the requirements to provide you with correct and complete information before you make an offer on a property are strict, you cannot always trust that various risks associated with the purchase are adequately addressed in the sales material. Let me explain.

When you go through a sales prospectus for a property, you will find numerous papers and attachments. They are usually tucked behind the flowery descriptions of the property’s good and, in fairness, also some of its less favorable aspects. According to the Alienation Act, which regulates the sale and purchase of used homes, the seller has a duty to inform. The real estate agent, in accordance with the Real Estate Brokerage Act and the commission agreement with the seller, is obliged to assist the seller in fulfilling this duty.

On the other hand, the buyer has a duty to investigate and must familiarize themselves with everything disclosed about the property. It is assumed that they have knowledge of all the information provided before making an offer.

So far, so good, right?

But what about all the things that the buyer is responsible for understanding, whether by contacting the municipality, the housing association, or another public authority? Or aspects that the buyer is responsible for assuming the risk for? How understandable and clearly are these typically presented to the buyer, who is usually an ordinary consumer?

This can include zoning plans, construction plans on neighboring properties, maintenance plans in the housing association that affect future costs, or the possibility of getting approval for rooms not officially approved for permanent residence. The quality of this information can vary greatly. And if you ask the realtor, they often haven’t taken the trouble to properly look into these matters. It may seem as though they think that once the issue is mentioned or documents from public authorities or the housing association are attached, their job is done.

It’s not. And when understandable explanations of how the information impacts the specific property are omitted, many buyers become very uncertain. So uncertain that they hesitate to make an offer. And the uncertainty doesn’t diminish when they ask the realtor and they don’t know the answer. Of course, not everything can be answered with 100% certainty, but signaling that something is a bit uncertain can actually be an answer too!

When I, as a home purchase advisor, go through the sales material for properties my clients are considering buying, I want answers to EVERYTHING. And give them a clear picture of what risks may be present and whether there are any uncertainties they might have to live with. It involves a lot of digging, and when I don’t get answers from the realtor, I have to contact, for example, the municipality, the appraiser, the business manager, or the chairman of the housing association. Ideally, this should be unnecessary, as the realtor should have answers to EVERYTHING and have full oversight.

Why isn’t it like that?

Is it laziness, the fact that home sales have become an assembly line activity for realtors where they upload documentation into a sales system and assume the job is done? Or do they not want to answer certain things for fear of being held accountable later?

I think a lot can be attributed to poor preparation, automation of the sales process, the requirement for many and quick turnovers, and a lack of understanding of the buyer’s needs. And perhaps a bit of laziness as well—homes get sold anyway!

I don’t know the background for this phenomenon. But I do know that the clearer the answers buyers get to their questions about almost everything about and around the property, the more courage they have to make an offer on the property. And those realtors who take the trouble to fulfill their duty to inform and can answer or investigate all questions that come up are the ones who achieve the greatest credibility in the market.

Knowing that the information may be incomplete and you might not master the Norwegian language, it is safest to contact me for a review of the sales prospectus before you make an offer. Remember, in Norway, your offer is binding, and you must familiarize yourself with everything about the property in advance!



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