Disclose! Disclose! Disclose!
We are in a new world regarding real estate disclosures! Until recently, it has always been caveat emptor - let the buyer beware”. Today, it is more often than not “Let the seller beware!” When you sell your home, you don’t want open-ended liabilities that can possibly come back to haunt you long after your sale is completed. Here are some simple guides you should follow in completing your disclosure forms:
1. Be as complete and accurate as possible with your answers to each disclosure question.
2. Make accurate disclosures regarding dampness and moisture. Don’t forget pooling water after rains. Disclose all known roof leaks and drainage problems, including your property draining over a neighbor’s property or a neighbor’s property draining over yours.
3. Disclose details of any corrections and repairs you have made, or others have made at your direction, even when you believe the problem has been fixed. Provide the dates and scope of work done.
4. If you believe certain work needs to be upgraded and you have obtained written estimates for the work, provide those estimates to the buyer with an explanation of why the estimates were obtained and the work not done.
5. Disclose all recurring problems such as sewage backups, other plumbing problems, roof leaks, electrical shorts or failures, basement leaks, cracks in walls, mildew and so on.
6. Disclose when your roof has more than two layers of roofing material.
7. Be sure to disclose all known environmental issues, such as the presence of asbestos, radon, soil contamination, expansive soil conditions, etc.
8. Disclose all known agreements between neighbors including encroachments, easements or variances. Often property lines and boundary issues come up regarding gates, fences, patios and decks not within the required set-back lines.
9. Disclose any neighbor problems, arguments, disputes; barking dogs; loud music and party issues; parking problems; law enforcement issues, and so on.
10. Disclose all known non-permitted improvements.
11. Disclose any known slippage, sliding or soil problems, even if currently stabilized.
12. Disclose known skylight leaks and windows that permit moisture encroachment.
13. Disclose known fireplace and chimney cracks or other fireplace problems.
14. Disclose any known acts of violence that have occurred in the house or on your street. A death in the house in the last five years should be disclosed.
15. Disclose any known potential health and safety issues, such as poisonous plants, trip or slip hazards, cracked shower doors, steep and slippery steps, and so on.
The basic premise for disclosure is to disclose anything that might have a negative influence on a purchaser's desire to own your property or be a negative influence on the price that a purchaser might be willing to pay for your property. Show all repairs that have been done, whether or not permits were obtained, and note any work that is not guaranteed by the seller.
Your objective is to finalize your sale and not have a judge be persuaded later on that had the purchaser known of the issues in question, they would not have chosen to pay as much for the property. It could end up costing you!