Featured News 2014 Disclosures a Seller Has to Provide

Disclosures a Seller Has to Provide

Under federal law and the laws of each state, there will be certain issues that a home seller will have to disclose, else a seller could be accused of trying to cover up problems with the property and charged with fraud. There are states where you would only have to inform buyers about the defects of a property that you were already aware of. In other states, however, a seller will be required by law to find out if there are certain types of issues with the property. This could mean having to hire an inspector. It is worth the cost, however, because if you miss a problem that you were supposed to discover, then you could end up being sued by the buyer.

California especially has extensive requirements for seller disclosures. This includes the mandate that a seller has to provide disclosure if the roof leaks, if someone has died at the property within the past three years, whether there are problems such as loud dog barks in the neighborhood, etc. If there are threats of flood, earthquake, fire, or other issues and environmental problems, then the seller has to inform buyers in a Natural Hazard Disclosure Statement. In fact, the law constrains California sellers let buyers know that they can check a police database that contains the addresses of registered sex offenders in the area.

Whether you are a seller in California or not, paying for an inspection before you put the house up for sale is often a good idea, and it may be required by law in some states. Once you have had an inspector come, you can know if you need to fix things up around the house, and what things need to be brought up in the disclosure forms. As a bonus, the inspection further helps you name a listing price for the house, and to understand the price range within which you can provide counter offers.

And if you are in doubt about whether or not you should disclose a certain problem, then disclose. It is much better to disclose more information than is necessary. You can save yourself a lot of headache and costs if you preclude the possibility of you being held liable for a home's defects. Also, doing this lets the buyer know that you are trustworthy. And the thing is, if you have to disclose a problem, it does not follow that you have to fix the issue yourself. You usually provide these disclosure on certain forms that need to be signed and dated. The buyer needs to sign off on the disclosure too, or to provide a written receipt of disclosure.

Now if you are selling an old home, one that was constructed before 1978, then there is a federal law, the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992 (or Title X), that says that you have provide disclosure of any lead-based paint hazards you know about. You also have to furnish a buyer with the pamphlet called Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home, which was created by the EPA. Warning phrases need to be in your contract, and every party has to sign off that every requirement was met, and you will have to hold onto this signed document for three years. You also have to give the buyer ten days to inspect the real estate for lead. You want to make sure you get this right, else a buyer could sue for three times the damages they sustained. Talk to an expert about this issue.

To learn more about the disclosures that are required by law where you live, be sure to consult a real estate attorney as soon as possible.

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