By, Lisa Roberts
If you’re planning to sell your home soon, you’re probably overwhelmed by the paperwork and preparation required. A disclosure document is a part of that paperwork that not many people remember. However, this document is important for both home buyers and sellers. As a seller, you are typically required to provide information about your home in a written document. There is a specific list of disclosures home sellers must make when selling a home.
In general, a disclosure document is supposed to contain information about a property's condition that can negatively affect its value. If a seller willfully conceals information, they can be sued and convicted of a crime.
This isn’t only meant for bad things, however. Since it also requires a list of recent upgrades and utilities that come with the house, you can also make a disclosure work in your favor. For example, if you have recently installed any utilities which come with the home, , a disclosure might help you gain some points in the eyes of buyers.
Local laws can differ
Before we get started with a list of the most common disclosures home sellers must make, you should know that this is a general guide. If you want to be sure you’re doing it correctly, you’ll have to check the local variation of the state or county you live in. Experts from advise you to pay extra close attention to these differences if your potential buyer is moving from out of state. You may have to prepare answers to some questions in advance.
Another important thing to check in case you’re worried about how the disclosure might make your home look is local law loopholes. A great example of this would be New York. Disclosure is necessary unless the seller opts to pay the buyer 500$ in credit. Most sellers in New York actually choose to pay the credit rather than fill out the disclosure form.
1. Death in the home
Certain buyers have concerns or even superstitions when it comes to purchasing a home in which someone has died. In most states, this kind of disclosure is required. Always remember that each state will have slightly different requirements for disclosure.
For instance, in Texas, deaths which aren’t directly correlated with the home do not have to be disclosed. This means things like death from natural causes are not crucial for disclosing. However, if a person dies because of an issue with the home’s construction, that must be disclosed even if the issue has been remedied since.
In some other states, however, discloser laws might even go so far as to require the seller to disclose information about possible hauntings or a history of exorcisms.
If you’re not sure what to do, most lawyers advise disclosing everything right away. In situations like these, it’s common for neighbors to gossip. And if your buyer finds something out from them, they could back out or at least wonder about other things you might be hiding.
2. Possible hazards
Most disclosure documents and forms will include disclosures home sellers must make about possible hazards. This usually includes:
1. An increased risk of damage from a natural disaster
2. Potential environmental contamination
3. Use of hazardous materials in the home, such as asbestos or lead-based paint
4. Whether the home was used as a lab for manufacturing methamphetamine - only a few states
5. Whether the property is located in a floodplain, wetland, or agricultural district
6. Whether it has ever been a landfill site
7. Whether the property is in a seismic hazard zone and could thus be subject to liquefaction or landslides after an earthquake (only states with such zones)
3. Available appliances and other essentials
If you plan on taking appliances with you after moving or are aware of the fact that some of them are broken or missing, you will have to disclose that information. Every state has a variation on the list of appliances and essentials necessary for disclosure forms. One of the most important disclosures home sellers must make is a list of anything on the state list that a buyer won’t find upon arrival.
4. Previously done repairs
Your home and property’s history are usually the most important sections of the disclosure document. Firstly, they need to know which parts of the property are new, so they know what needs to be checked. And secondly, they need to know which parts are reaching their likely expiration date. Keep in mind that it’s fine not to know some things. Most people live in houses older than they’ve been there. Just do your best to disclose everything you can.
5. Repairs that haven’t been done
We have already discussed the fact that a list of things that haven’t been renovated in a while is one of the disclosures home sellers must make. However, in some states, you may have to create a separate list of the things you know will have to be repaired or renovated soon. For instance, if your plumbing has been working poorly for a while, but you won’t have time to fix it before the sale.
Remember to put yourself in the buyers’ shoes. You would also want to know what repairs are awaiting you before you make an offer. These future expenses may make them realize that they can’t actually afford the home in the long run.
6. HOA information
If the home you are selling is governed by a homeowners' association (HOA), you will have to disclose that fact. Associations generally impose monthly fees and rules on homeowners that a prospective buyer may not find acceptable. It’s also important to know about the HOA's financial health. Even if you’re not obligated to, the buyer might ask for this information so they can make an informed decision.
How to give a seller’s disclosure?
As we have already discussed, each state has its own requirements for seller’s disclosures. This means that if you want to avoid a potential lawsuit, you must consult with those laws when preparing the documents. Get the proper forms for your state and fill them out according to its laws.
Of course, the easiest way to make sure you’re doing everything correctly is to . However, keep in mind that not every state allows your agent to assist you in this process. In these states, you’ll need to contact a real estate attorney for help if you require assistance.
Once the forms are filled in with all the disclosures home sellers must make, you’ll be able to give them to potential buyers and are one step closer to a smooth, stress-free sale