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When In Doubt Disclose

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.
In a perfect real estate world, I prefer to provide the buyer the completed disclosures at the time the buyer writes an offer. We can disclose to the buyer the known defects of the home; the buyer can take these items into consideration when determining their offered price; ideally, these deficiencies should not be renegotiated at the time of the buyer’s physical inspection.

What type of defects should the home seller disclose?  Often, as part of “day to day” living in a home, certain items do not function properly, are overlooked and we just accept them.  Some common problems:  Does the doorbell work?  Is the clock on the oven operating properly? Do all windows and doors open and close correctly? Is there safety glass in the shower & sliding glass doors? How is the water pressure? Are any sprinklers broken?  When in doubt, disclose.


During the course of inspections on one of my recent home sales, the buyer discovered that a portion of a flat roof needed repair.  My client (the seller) told me, “but it’s a flat roof and every year I “hot mop” it. Routine ongoing maintenance should also be disclosed.  If you regularly have your home rootered, or have a company spray for ants, this too should be disclosed.
If you have a water softener/filtration, is it owned or rented? Information about an alarm system should also be noted.  When you have a pool, the existing pool equipment is included in the sale, if any of it is leased or belongs to others; this needs to be disclosed to the buyer.  If you wish to remove these items and consider them personal property, they should be excluded at the time of your counter offer to the buyer.  In addition, these items should be noted on the Transfer Disclosure with the notation that they are excluded from the sale. When in doubt, disclose.  The list goes on and on.

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What about neighbors?  When do you need to disclose that they are noisy, intrusive or a pain in the neck?  I am a real estate agent and not an attorney and cannot provide legal advice. But I would think that if you complain to others about a neighbor or have called the police on them, it should be disclosed.

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