According to the National Association of REALTORS®’ recently released 2011 Legal Scan: Legal Issues Facing Real-Estate Professionals, nondisclosure of a property’s problems is becoming a bigger issue. That could result in more lawsuits against sellers who have not provided full disclosure of problems with their property.
As a seller, you must disclose anything that might impact the value of your home. That includes something as small as a toilet that doesn’t flush properly to something as big as an unstable foundation. Anyone selling a home, even in “as-is” condition, must obey disclosure laws.
Here are six things you, as the seller, must reveal:
- Termites. If your home has or had a problem with termites, it must be disclosed to the buyer.
- Lead. If your home was built before 1978, you must comply with the federal law requiring disclosure of all known lead-based paint and hazards in or around the house. Buyers must receive a copy of the Environmental Protection Agency’s pamphlet Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home, and they must be allowed a ten-day window to test the house for lead. If this process is not followed, the buyer can sue for triple the amount of damages suffered.
- Water damage or mold. If there was mold caused by a leaky roof, flooded basement or dampness, these water issues must be disclosed. Water damage is one of the biggest causes of disclosure-related lawsuits.
- Repairs. Any repairs made to the property must be disclosed on the seller’s disclosure statement, even if the problem has been resolved. This includes repairs disclosed by previous owners. In many cases, potential home buyers are relieved to know that things have been repaired and are no longer a problem.
- Infamous history. A home’s notorious or criminal past must be disclosed.
- Natural hazards. Some states require sellers to disclose any risk of natural disasters such as being in a flood plain or earthquake zone, in addition to susceptibility to wildfires.
Historical or special zoning should also be disclosed as it limits what the buyer may be able to do with or to the property.
If you’re unsure as to whether you should disclose something, disclose it. If you have even the smallest question about whether to disclose something to potential buyers, avoid the potential for liability and tell all.
If you’re considering selling your home, I can help you determine what needs to be disclosed. Give me a call today at 630-539-7355 if you’d like a more detailed description of any of this information, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to request additional information.
Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home