Skeptical of seller disclosures

How can buyers sort fact from fiction?

DEAR BARRY: In several of your past columns, buyers had alleged that the sellers deliberately withheld disclosure of known defects. How can a buyer determine whether a seller did or did not know about a particular problem? --Joe DEAR JOE: The short and simple answer is that buyers often do not know when nondisclosure is intentional or innocent. Each situation has its own unique variables, so let's consider some possibilities. As most people know, sellers must provide buyers with a written disclosure statement of all known property defects. This is required in most states. Unfortunately, disclosure statements seldom contain substantial or complete information. Most sellers are unaware of the significant defects in their home. For example, if the flue pipe on the water heater is not adequately secured, or if the ground wires in the electrical panel are not properly connected, the average seller would be oblivious to such matters and would not disclose them. At the same time, ...