Selling a residential property involves juggling important factors like marketing, inspection, staging, and more, but one of the most crucial legal requirements is to provide an accurate property disclosure form. While different states have varying laws and regulations regarding the seller’s disclosures, all have the common goal of revealing any issues with the property to potential buyers.
From all the associated renovations, repairs, problems, and even issues like noise pollution in the neighborhood, these details should be a part of every seller’s disclosure form. But why exactly are sellers obligated to disclose all this information to the buyer? Read on to find out how it can serve to protect you down the line.
Related Post: Do I need a Real Estate Attorney to Purchase a House?
What is a Seller’s Disclosure?
Anyone planning to sell property needs to disclose “known defects” to any potential buyer. Most real estate attorneys and real estate agents have their Seller clients complete a Seller’s Disclosure Form, which is a written document that contains all the information about the real estate’s conditions, defects, potential repairs, or any underlying issues that could impact the buyer’s decision.
One of the most common reasons for disputes or law suits after a real estate transaction, is when a buyer discovers a problem with the property that they feel was not properly disclosed. The seller’s disclosure aims to ensure transparency in every real estate transaction and allow buyers to make more informed purchasing decisions moving forward.
After the sale is complete and the buyer finds something they find unfavorable, a well-detailed seller’s disclosure can protect you from being sued since this document can minimize the risks of a lawsuit for any misinformation regarding the property’s past or current state.
What Important Property Information a Seller Must Disclose to a Buyer?
Seeing as a property disclosure aims to educate buyers regarding the condition of your real estate, the document should include the following critical information (not an exhaustive list):
- All construction and improvements to the property;
- The date the property was last occupied by the seller;
- Roof structure quality and integrity;
- Basements and crawl spaces;
- Termites/wood-destroying insects, dry rot, and pests;
- Structural problems;
- Water and sewage systems or service;
- Plumbing system;
- Heating and air conditioning;
- Electrical system;
- Other equipment and appliances included in the sale;
- Soil, drainage, boundaries, and sinkholes;
- Presence of hazardous substances;
- Condominiums and other homeowner’s associations;
- Legal issues affecting the property title;
- Experience dealing with flooding, stormwater, and other natural disasters;
What if I Don’t Know the Answers?
Some of the information listed above may not be known to a Seller, especially if the Seller does not have experience or knowledge about construction or home repair. The law only requires a seller to disclose information about their property that they actually know. Seller’s are not required to disclose problems they aren’t aware of, and they are not required to perform their own search or inspection to find potential or hidden problems.
The Bottom Line: The Importance of a Property Disclosure
Completing and signing a property disclosure handles several legalities, and all its complexities can leave plenty of room for error. Making any mistakes in the documentation of your property disclosure as a seller can leave you at risk of running into legal issues with the buyer in the future. That’s why it’s important to consult with a real estate lawyer who can help you explore all the possible liabilities involved in the process.
Handling a Seller’s Disclosure Can Be Complicated, but We Can Make It Easier for You
When it comes to real estate, the process can become complex and confusing to many. In that case, it’s best to work with trusted real estate lawyers in Cumberland County to ensure you have a smooth legal process.
Here at Cherewka Law, we provide highly personalized planning services, including estate planning, business, nonprofit, and real estate law. Learn more about how we can help you today!