When it comes to residential real estate, sellers of homes with some problems or defects may hear from their friends or family that they should just “put a coat of paint on it” or “that’s the next owners problem.”
What many sellers fail to understand is that they are typically required to disclose certain information to potential buyers. These disclosures are meant to warn potential buyers of any problems with the property that might affect its value or use. “Buyer beware” only goes so far with certain issues.
Now, we know that selling a house can be overwhelming, and we are here to make the process as simple as possible. This is why we wanted to make sure that homeowners know about common disclosures that could impact the sale of their home. We’ve put together some information that will inform you of the realities as a seller.
The requirements for real estate disclosures vary based on state law. Some states lean heavily towards buyer protection and mandate multiple pages of disclosures, while other states take a buyer-beware approach. All disclosures should be made in writing, whether or not your state provides a specific form to use. In most states, sellers are required to give potential buyers the property disclosures before or during the execution of the purchase agreement.
Real estate disclosures are designed to help protect all parties involved in a sale. Home buyers, of course, need to know what exactly they’re getting themselves into with a particular property.
Sellers are protected by disclosures in two major ways. First of all, disclosures reduce the chance of buyers backing out at the last minute. Secondly, properly following disclosure law protects sellers legally. In some states, buyers can sue years after the sale if the seller did not disclose something that should have been disclosed according to state or federal law. However, disclosures can bring some very serious issues to light and reduce the number of potential buyers who will want to deal with the disclosed issues. Let’s get right to the most common ones now.
5 common real estate disclosures
If you’re getting ready to sell a property, you should be aware of these 5 common disclosures. Not all of them apply in every state, so be sure to check your own state’s rules.
- Lead: If the house you’re selling was built before 1978, you’re required to disclose the existence of any known lead paint or lead paint hazards (such as contaminated soil or dust). Sellers must also provide buyers with any records they have involving lead on the property, a lead warning statement, and a pamphlet created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This is the only federally mandated real estate disclosure.
- Water damage: Water damage from leaks and floods can cause health problems by creating mold and can compromise the structure of the house. This damage is not always apparent at the time of sale, especially if the sale is not taking place during a rainy season. Many states require sellers to disclose leaks and water damage.
- Legal issues: Most states also require sellers to disclose any legal issues with the property. These issues could include the existence of property liens, building code violations, easements on the property, or boundary line disputes with the neighbors. Basically, if it would affect the potential new property owners, it should be disclosed.
- Structural and mechanical issues: In most cases, any known problems with major systems or appliances must be disclosed. This could include issues with the plumbing, electrical systems, heating and air conditioning, or structure of the home. Some states have a very specific form to fill out regarding the condition of each household system, while other states simply require you to inform the potential buyer about any major problems.
- Neighborhood nuisances: Many states require you to warn potential buyers about neighborhood nuisances. This can be anything like late night parties, offensive odors, or aggressive dogs that are allowed to run loose. Anything that would impact buyers’ enjoyment of the home and neighborhood should be disclosed.
Outcomes of disclosing
Clearly, disclosing properly is the way to go. But what will happen after you disclose? Often, buyers will overlook smaller issues if they like the house, especially in a hot market.
When it comes to bigger issues, the buyer might ask you to fix something before the property changes hands, or they might ask you to take some money off the purchase price. If you and the buyer can’t reach an agreement, the buyer may walk away forcing you to start the whole process over again.
When in doubt, disclose.
As we mentioned, required disclosures vary by state. If you’re not sure whether something should be disclosed, it’s best to err on the side of caution and disclose it. In addition to the liability benefits, disclosing thoroughly helps buyers know that they can trust you as the seller enough to go through with the deal. And of course, it’s just the right thing to do! Consulting a real estate attorney can help ensure you’re doing everything properly.
Avoid the trouble by selling to MarketPro
If you’d rather not worry about disclosures and how buyers will react, there’s an easier solution.
At MarketPro Homebuyers, we buy homes as-is and provide you with a fair cash offer. You can sell your home with no repairs, no inspection, no realtor fees, and a fast closing!
If your cabinets and countertops are outdated or broken—no problem!
If your roof needs a repair—we’ll still buy it!
If the HVAC, plumbing and electrical all have issues—we’re prepared to make you a cash offer today!
We pride ourselves on providing a headache-free selling process that helps you move out quickly, without any of the hassles of fixing or selling your house.
If you’re in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, or Pennsylvania, we’d love to show you how stress-free the sales process can be. Get started today with an instant quote!