Seller disclosures provide the buyer with information on any known material defects with the property that could impact its value or livability. However, disclosures don’t always reveal everything you need to know about a property. Here are 6 key factors every homebuyer should know about seller disclosures.
Disclosure laws are unique to each individual state
Each state has its own seller disclosure laws. So, you may see conflicting advice when you research them online. And, some requirements can even vary on the county and city level. You can find out the most accurate information about sellers’ disclosures by asking your real estate agent.
Regardless of where you leave, there are three general categories that sellers disclosure requirements will fall into:
Some states have full disclosure laws. These forms require a very thorough accounting of both the home’s condition and its recent repair history.
Some states use a disclosure-disclaimer form, which means sellers have the choice between completing a full disclosure form or simply providing a disclaimer.
“Caveat emptor” is Latin for “buyer beware”. This means that the buyer is responsible for discovering flaws and repair issues. Caveat emptor laws are designed to protect sellers from litigation should the buyer experience buyer’s remorse after discovering problems they should have discovered before closing on the property.
Condition-of-the-home disclosures typically cover the home’s existing conidition, known defects, or repair history
Sellers disclosure forms provide the buyer with important information about the repair history of the home’s structure and systems. They cover any issues that would impact the livability, safety, or value of the property, including:
- Existing defects and repair history of the foundation, roof, and any other structural components
- Known environmental hazards, like mold, asbestos, and lead-based paint
- Property damage and repair history (including water and fire)
- Any existing defects, repair history, and the age of the HVAC, water, and electrical systems
Disclosures do not replace the need for an inspection
Even though you’re getting a full disclosure from a seller, don’t assume that it includes all you need to know about your home’s current and future condition. Be sure to get a professional inspection no matter how thorough the disclosure form is.
It’s likely that the last time the home had a checkup was when the current owners purchased it. Unless there are obvious problems or visible damage, owners may not be aware of new defects that have developed.
Many disclosure forms will specify legal issues and pertinent details about the home sale
Some states have disclosure forms that provide a deeper look at your home’s history, including:
- Illegal or illicit activity that occured in the home (like natural deaths, murder, drug busts, or cult activity)
- Legal issues connected to the property (like property disputes or neighborhood nuisances)
- Homeowners association information
- What appliances will stay or go with the home
Disclosures are legally binding
Disclosures are legally binding documents that sellers are required by law to answer honestly. If the information on the disclosure turns out to be untrue, you may be able to take legal action against them.
Seller’s can’t be expected to disclose issues they aren’t aware of
Sellers are not required to disclose any flaws or defects that they genuinely do not know about, especially if there are no obvious signs of damage or defects.
There are scenarios where the seller may be exempt from completing a disclosure form, and those can include foreclosure homes or estate sales that are being sold as-is. This is allowed because neither the bank nor the heirs have lived in the home, so they cannot be expected to have knowledge of any issues or defects.
Even though you may have a sense of security through the seller’s disclosure form, it’s important to get a professional inspection. That way, you can rest assured that you’re fully aware of your new home’s condition.
Team Melton has over 50 combined years of real estate experience to assist you through every step of the process. Contact us today to get started on finding your next home!