When deciding to sell your house, you are legally obligated to reveal certain issues the home may have.
So, how much do you need to disclose, and in what detail? Here, we go over the rules and legalities involved in writing a seller’s disclosure.
Knowing the rules
Disclosure laws vary by state and even by city. Having the right Realtor on your side will make all the difference in helping to understand these laws.
A good listing agent will walk you through this process and help you to make the best decision on what to disclose and what is not needed.
Read more about picking the right listing agent for you.
To disclose, or not to disclose?
Any known facts about the condition of the house, pending lawsuits, or dangerous materials that may affect the value of the property should be disclosed.
As the seller, even if you think an issue is a “non-issue” because you have learned to live with it, does not mean that a lawsuit won’t arise from holding back information.
If you even have any thought as to if something should be disclosed or not, it probably is in your best interest to do so.
It is also a good idea to disclose anything that may have been repaired recently. If a buyer is to state that the job wasn’t not done correctly, you could be the one responsible.
Providing copies of inspection reports is typically not a must.
However, if you have any of these reports, they should be made known to any potential buyers. In fact, this might even work to your advantage.
Read more about how a pre-inspection could help with your home sale.
If you don’t know, you simply don’t know
All this talk of lawsuits may raise some concerns. Just remember, you are not accountable for not disclosing issues you are unaware of.
There could be defects hiding below the surface that has gone unnoticed for years. These concerns may even be something that only a professional would have been able to catch.
This responsibility does not fall onto you. At that point, the burden lies on the buyer to hire an inspector to uncover these issues.
Never, ever guess
Potential buyers can also come back and ask for specifics such as measurements, the age of certain items in the house, flood zoning concerns, and more.
Even if you have owned the house for some time now, it is common not to have the answers to these questions.
Instead of giving an estimate that could get you in trouble, you are allowed to say you do not know. There are even clauses that can be included in your contract that state measurements and other identified specifics are approximate and not exact.
The bottom line: if you know something is wrong – state so. If you are unsure or unaware, it is not your responsibility to disclose.
And, as always, check with your Realtor before making any Real Estate decision. That is what they are there for!