For those getting ready to sell, one of the first things you’ll do is take a complete inventory on the condition of your home. And if you’re a buyer visiting a few open houses, you’ll see a list of the items the seller discovered that might need attention. This list is called the Seller’s Disclosure and is a good faith effort to let a potential buyer know of any known issues that might need some attention. Even past issues that have been corrected may need to be highlighted. What does a seller need to disclose?
Different states have different regulations regarding disclosure and even some municipalities may have their own set in addition to state guidelines. When deciding what to disclose and what not to disclose should be discussed with your real estate agent but when in doubt, go ahead and disclose. For instance, the neighbor’s dog let’s out around 7:00 in the morning and barks at everything that moves. Is that something to disclose? Probably not. It doesn’t affect the condition of the home and is typically nothing more than an occasional nuisance. But to avoid any potential problems after the sale, it’s probably best to disclose anything in question.
Some issues are easy to identify. For example, the hot water heater burst last year and flooded the laundry room. You had to replace flooring, drywall and buy a new hot water heater. That’s something to disclose even though the issue had been fixed. Remember though, some states won’t require such a disclosure while others states might. Flooding could lead to mold issues later on if not properly remediated. Is there a crack in the drywall? Is it because the foundation has shifted or nothing more than a harmless cosmetic issue?
It’s good practice for a seller to have a professional home inspector make a thorough review of the property. That way, anything the buyer’s inspector finds will likely be listed on the original disclosure and also gives the seller the information needed regarding what needs to be disclosed. The bottom line regarding disclosures is always this: when in doubt—disclose.