WHAT YOU KNOW BEFORE YOU BUY Or, How The Slightest Knowledge is Turned into Actual Awareness
I took a call recently from a father from a very cold northern city trying to buy a home for his daughter in Austin. She really wants this particular house and they are past the option period. (See Blog on Options In the One to Four Family Residential Contract, April 12, 2017) The father is aware of several potential defects in the house such as greater than normal wood rot and an assortment of other problems that could require significant dollars depending on what is uncovered. He wanted to know if he could buy the house and then address these issues later. The problem he presented was that he was aware of "some" wood rot damage. This is important.
In Texas, notice of any part of the injury can be used later to show that the buyer was aware before purchase and accepted the property with that defect or problem. Texas courts hold that the accrual of the injury is when the Plaintiff first learns of the injury even if they don't fully understand the full impact of the injury. KPMG Peat Marwick v. Harrison County Housing Finance Corporation, 988 S.W.2d 746 (Tex. 1999). In lay terms, once you know that there is a problem, you can't wait to find out how bad the problem is. The dates start running for the statute of limitations when you find out there is a problem.
So in the case of my caller from the North, if he already knows there is a problem with the wood rot at the house, his statute of limitations begins on that date. But also, he is buying the house knowing it has a problem and they typical jury will impose on him a duty to have done more investigating before purchase. Not that that is right, but it is the way it is in Texas - the business friendly, anti-consumer state.