Friday, April 25, 2008

An Open Letter to Roy Cooper, Attorney General of North Carolina

By Lynne Vogel

For more than a year the North Carolina General Assembly has been debating whether to amend the North Carolina real estate contract. At issue: should buyers receive fair warning that landslides pose serious threats to property values?

There is no reason to wait for legislative action. After the federal disaster declarations of September 2004 your office had the authority to require landslide disclosure statements for all Western North Carolina real estate transactions.

Why the delay?

Precedent indicates that the Office of the Attorney General can act quickly and responsibly to inform the public of property risks. In April 1996 your legal staff responded to inspection reports of the moisture retention problems of stucco clad homes (EIFS). Your office notified builders, developers, and real estate agents that disclosure statements would be required for all EIFS affected properties.

It is not fair that the real estate industry is allowed to conceal material facts. All buyers deserve the right to be informed of substantive and uninsurable property hazards.
Landslide Advisory Statement

Please be advised that you are buying property in a high risk hazard area and this will affect your ability to obtain insurance. _________ County, location of _________ is in a state designated landslide district. The slope stability risk factors of the federally mandated landslide mapping program were not available at the time this residential project was completed. ___________ was developed under regulations that did not require North Carolina licensed geologic site specific safety stability studies. You may wish to seek professional advice about this property.

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