How do you make a seller and realtor financially responsible if they sell you a house with many undisclosed latent defects?

Usually there is nothing you can do about it. But, if it is a new house, you might want to go and see the homeowner's association because there will be other homeowners that will have problems similar to yours.

You should bring an action for fraud if they intentionally misrepresented facts that caused you to purchase something that was not as advertised and it caused you monetary damages. You can also contact the local real estate licensing board and file an administrative complaint, and contact the district attorney about criminal fraud, or false advertising, etc, if the facts merit that type of response. Keep good records of any promises or factual statements they made to induce you to buy the house such as: "Built to code. New boiler. Never had any problems." If you find evidence to the contrary, you have a strong case.

You must prove that they INTENTIONALLY hid or misrepresented material facts.

If the seller replaced the roof 10 years ago, had that on the disclosure sheet and your home inspector reports shows the roof to be in good condition, with no visible leaks and is approximately 10 years old - you cannot hold the seller accountable if the roof starts leaking 6 months later.

Ditto on a furnance, etc. As long as the Seller discloses what they know about the house and does not intentionally misrepresent or hide anything, they really are not accountable for problems after closing. The exception to this is if you are buying new construction - typically the builder offers a builder's warranty on the structure along with the manufacturer's warranties for mechanicals (applicances, HVAC, etc).

The Realtor MUST disclose any known defects BY LAW. However, the Realtor would have to KNOW about the defect to disclose it. A Realtor is not a home inspector. Hire a home inspector if you want a home inspection. The Realtor's job is to market and sell the home.

The most a Realtor could do is question the Seller about an obvious problem - such as a stain on the ceiling. If the Sellers says, yes, that stain is where the roof leaked 10 years ago, but I put a new roof on 10 years ago and never repainted it. The Realtor will tell the Seller s/he must disclose that kind of information should go on the Seller's Disclosure Form. The Realtor has then done their job accordingly.

However, if the Realtor went back for an open house after listing the house, on a day it was raining hard, and the ceiling was wet and dripping water, the Realtor must confront the Seller about the issue and also ask that the Disclosure Form be amended and the leak disclosed to all potential buyers.