days of buyer beware are gone forever. In fact, given the flood
of federal, state, and local consumer protection laws enacted over
the last couple of decades, this is the era of 'let seller beware.'
As a seller, you may think that some of the disclosure requirements
are overly protective of buyers. Because, however, you probably
intend to purchase a new home to replace the one you're selling,
you can benefit from disclosures as a buyer. All things considered,
it's a fair trade.
What information should you disclose?
statements differ widely from state to state and from one area to
another within any given state. Generally speaking, the law requires
that you disclose to prospective buyers any information you have
that materially affects your property's value or desirability. This
disclosure must cover facts that you, as an owner, are expected
to know about your property and the neighborhood that couldn't be
known by (or wouldn't be apparent to) the buyer. For example:
Physical condition: Are your built-in appliances in good
working order? Do you know about any hidden defects or malfunctions
in your house's major components (roof, foundation, electrical
system, plumbing, sewer, insulation, windows, doors, walls, and
so on)? No one expects you to be a professional property inspector,
and disclosure laws are one reason why getting a premarketing
inspection of your house is wise. You and your agent should also
encourage buyers to conduct their own investigations and obtain
inspections from their own experts instead of relying solely on
your inspections or the information you provide about the property's
safety, and environmental hazards: You must comply with federal,
state, and local disclosure laws regarding property problems related
to asbestos, formaldehyde, lead-based paints, underground fuel
or chemical storage tanks, radon gas, and other health hazards.
Is your property in harm's way from earthquakes, floods, hurricanes,
or other natural disasters? Does your property comply with local
energy or water conservation ordinances?
condition: Are any lawsuits pending that affect your property?
Did you make any modifications or alterations to your property
without getting the necessary building permits? Do these modifications
or alterations comply with state and local building codes? If
you're selling a condominium, you must give the buyer copies of
the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs), the Homeowners
Association bylaws, and the budget.
areas: Subjective questions can't be answered with a simple
yes or no. The environment that you think is extremely quiet,
the buyer may consider a boiler factory. Answer all subjective
questions to the best of your ability, and then encourage buyers
to familiarize themselves with the area so they can draw their
own subjective conclusions about these issues.If you're not sure
whether or not you have to make this type of disclosure about
your property, consult your listing agent or a real estate lawyer.
To Seller Services