La Canada Flintridge & La Crescenta Real Estate | Harb & Co.

Failure to disclose

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Dear Phyllis,

I look forward to your column and I think this is a new question. Is not providing real estate disclosures normal? We are in escrow on a home and the seller says she will not provide certain disclosure as the home was occupied by her children while they attended college and then for several years by tenants. The seller says she has not seen the home for nearly 20 years and can’t answer all of the questions on the Transfer Disclosure Statement. My Realtor® insists she is required by law to complete the disclosures so we are at a standstill. I plan on hiring an inspector and really want this home, but now I am wondering if she is trying to hide something. What happens when the seller fails to disclose?

Thank You,
GS

Dear GS,

In California, most home sellers (other than the institutional type) are required by law to disclose facts and defects, which materially affect the value or desirability of their home. The Transfer Disclosure Statement (T.D.S.) and Seller Property Questionnaire (SPQ) assist the seller in meeting this requirement by providing a standardized format for most basic information. Full disclosure can reduce or eliminate the possibility of later legal action.

As she has not lived in the home and has not seen it for years, I can appreciate the seller’s concern and or confusion. However, her real estate agent’s job is to assist her in completing the disclosures to the best of the seller’s ability. If the seller refuses to complete the disclosures she is in violation of the law.

To cover all bases, I strongly recommend that you have your Realtor® request (in writing) a list of any repairs made while the home was rented. If the seller had a management company this information should be readily available and if not, the seller should have had all of this itemized for income tax purposes. The seller’s response should be in writing and this information should be provided to your home inspector during the inspection.

Congratulations on your new home!

Call Phyllis @ 818 790-7325 or email her at Phyllis@RealtorHarb.com with your real estate questions.