Disclosure documents can reveal all sorts of issues with homes. Sellers need to be thorough and honest in completing these forms.
If a seller lies in the form, there could be legal ramifications for the new property owners. A good real estate agent or lawyer can help with the process and ensure all information is included.
Law requires it
In some states, disclosure forms are required before selling a property. The specific details of what is needed will vary from state to state. However, it’s wise for sellers to provide as much information as possible when completing their disclosure.
This is because if you’re dishonest in your disclosure, it could result in legal repercussions. If the new owner discovers that you hid an important fact, they can cancel their purchase or even sue you for fraud.
Home buyers want to know everything they can about a property before committing. While a home listing and walkthrough can reveal some issues, the seller’s disclosure form before closing can give them a more complete picture. Sellers are only obligated to disclose problems they’re aware of. Hidden defects can still emerge during the inspection process. It would help if you always had a home inspector thoroughly check those cases. Also, if something you’ve disclosed becomes known after the sale closes, you should update your disclosure form as soon as possible.
It’s a Good Practice
When selling a home, sellers need to disclose any known issues. This provides transparency to the transaction and can protect both buyers and sellers from liability.
For example, it should be disclosed if the property has a history of flooding or pest damage. Other things that may impact a buyer’s decision to purchase the home include whether a permit was obtained for renovations if a septic system is leaking, or if there are any environmental hazards on the property.
Some disclosures are obvious, such as lead paint or radon gas. However, other problems are not obvious and can be costly for buyers if kept private. It is also a good idea to update disclosures as they occur, such as when repairs are made. For example, a homeowner who put their house on the market after having the basement remodeled from a sewer line mishap should have updated their disclosure.
It’s a Protection for the Buyer
Many seller disclosure laws allow buyers to rescind a contract when they discover issues the sellers or their agents could have known. Typically, this is based on the cost of the problem and whether it would have been avoidable if there had been full disclosure.
This information is important for home buyers, particularly when considering whether or not to waive a home inspection. A home inspector will often uncover things not mentioned in the disclosure.
For example, if the property has a history of water problems or sewage leaks, these issues will likely appear in an inspector’s report. The seller might be able to fix these, but a buyer should also have the option to renegotiate or walk away from the transaction if these major issues are too costly for them. This is why sellers need to be honest when completing their disclosure forms.
It’s a Way to Avoid Litigation
The bottom line is that sellers’ disclosure forms effectively avoid litigation and protect all parties involved in a real estate transaction. However, the protection needs to be ironclad. Buyers can sue if they feel the seller or agent misrepresented the property’s material facts. To sue for monetary damages, the buyers must prove that the seller knew of a problem and failed to disclose it.
It is also important to remember that the seller’s disclosure form does not act as a guarantee or warranty about the property. Ultimately, it is up to the buyers to conduct their due diligence and make an informed decision about the purchase.
Agents and buyers must keep abreast of state and local real estate laws. By staying current with these laws and ensuring that clients know the requirements, everyone can avoid the pitfalls of real estate litigation.