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Title: Seller’s Disclosure: A Comprehensive Guide

By Lala , in News , at June 2, 2022 Tags: , ,

When a homebuyer is ready to make probably the biggest spending of her/his life—buying a home, she would certainly be doing her due diligence to get to know every inch of the property and the neighborhood before making the purchase.

The information on home listings and photo uploads is a good way to give potential buyers information on the property and get them intrigued. Conducting home walkthroughs is also a prevalent way to show the buyers the property, however, it can be staged so as to misguide the homebuyers. Nevertheless, thanks to another mean out there called seller’s disclosure, homebuyers can get the correct, full details of the property they are interested in. 

If you are thinking about how to sell a house by owner, keep in mind that seller’s disclosure is a mandatory thing in most US states. A sellers disclosure is a document that describes the comprehensive condition of a property so that buyers can make an informed decision on the big purchase.

What exactly is a seller’s disclosure?

A seller’s disclosure is a document enlisting the condition of a property and is handed out to a potential buyer. It has 100 questions answered by the homeowner and takes around 30 minutes to complete. Filling a seller’s disclosure involves much clicking and entering details when you do it online. While you don’t need to get it ready till your property is under contract, it is good to have the disclosure ready early on as prospective buyers may ask for it beforehand. 

Also known as a property disclosure, a seller’s disclosure holds value not only for homebuyers but also for home sellers. It helps buyers get a better picture of the property, and its history, and allows them to make the all-important decision on whether or not to buy the home. The disclosure document must provide all the correct details about a home’s condition that might affect its value. Also, it is usually wise for home sellers to disclose all the issues with their home, whether or not they are legally bound for them. The seller’s disclosure can be helpful for sellers in case of buyers sue them post the sale. By disclosing property information in a written document home sellers can be free of any potential after-sales risks. 

The requirements of the disclosure may vary based on different state and local laws. But if home sellers willfully conceal any information on their homes, they can be sued and convicted of a crime. Even selling a property ‘as is’ usually doesn’t exempt a seller from the seller’s disclosure. Homesellers must follow the federal, state, and local laws on disclosures while selling their homes. You can check with the planning departments in your town or city to get details on disclosures. 

What is listed in a seller’s disclosure?

The seller’s disclosure document lists your home’s defects, fixtures, and conditions, which are explained below in detail:

Home defects are inadequacies in the house that need repairs like a jammed window, a damaged wall, or a door that makes noise upon movement. Even if, as a seller, you are not aware of the defects in your home, you might want to change your pov and take a closer look at your home’s details. Even the smallest thing that you think the buyer must know about, should be listed down on the seller’s disclosure notice.

Fixtures are the things that come along with the house upon purchase. It may consist of a dishwasher, a dryer hookup, ceiling fans, fences, etc. When deciding on fixtures, you can start with the things that you want to leave behind, things you want to take to your new home, and items that can be negotiated while selling the home.

Conditions of a home are its adverse problems or special circumstances that need to be informed to the buyer. Things like toxic waste, landfills, soil movement, diseased trees, and rotten wood can be included in adverse problems. Special circumstances may include situations like any unusual structural repairs such as roof or foundation, any previous fires, or a house located in a historic district.

Types of seller’s disclosures

Now that you know all that is listed in a seller’s disclosure, learn about the common types of disclosures that you as a seller are required to make to your prospective buyer below:

  • Death in the home:

    While most US states don’t need you to disclose deaths in your home, some require you to disclose that if they happened within the year gone by. California requires you to disclose a death even if it had happened in the last three years. Some states even require you to disclose in case the death was a murder or suicide.

  • Neighborhood nuisances:

    A nuisance can be defined as noise or smell from outside the home that could irritate the residents. While North Carolina requires you to disclose noises, smoke, odors, or other nuisances coming from industrial, commercial, or military sources, Michigan requires you to disclose farm operations, airports, landfills, shooting ranges, etc. nuisances in the vicinity. Pennsylvania leaves it to the buyer to check the presence of any agricultural nuisances. 

  • Liens on the property:

    A lien on the property is ownership rights given to a lender in case the homeowner is not able to repay the debt. In case there is a lien on the property, you must get the lien holder’s consent to sell the property. After the permission is granted, you must disclose the existing liens on the property to the buyer. Buying a home with an existing lien is typically not advised.

  • Missing essentials:

    In case your property does not consist of a system or appliance such as a dishwasher or a water heater that is considered essential for a modern-day resident, you are obligated to disclose that to the buyer.

  • HOA governance:

    You are required to disclose if your property falls under HOA governance or condominium association as often residents are required to pay fees or follow specific association rules under that. You can even include the applicable association fees and rules. Homebuyers would need to know this.

  • Repairs:

    Buyers need to know what and why you made the repairs historically so that their home inspectors can closely look at the problem areas for gauging probable issues in the future. Texas law requires you to disclose landfill, soil movement, structural or roof repairs, etc.

  • Water damage:

    Leaking water can not just undermine a home’s structure and impair personal possessions but also cause mold growth and create a health hazard. You are required to disclose any past or present leaks to the buyer.

  • Land-use limitations:

    The seller’s disclosure document must also provide details on any limitations on the property like easements, outstanding liens, restrictive covenants, or zoning regulations.

How honest should you be in your home disclosure?

You must be completely honest while filling out your seller’s disclosure document. While putting down all the cons of your home may feel scary, a detailed seller disclosure can save you time as well as become your selling point. Nevertheless, you must include everything that a home inspector may find. Any surprises can not just break the whole deal and work against you in negotiations, but also break the buyer’s trust in you. 

Conclusion

Even if some disclosure is not required in your state or locality, if that information could help the buyer in making a decision you must disclose it. Apart from the moral reasons for being honest with your buyers you also avoid the hassle and expense of a lawsuit with right and complete seller’s disclosure. It is certainly an important piece in your answer to the question of how to sell a house by owner

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