Home seller disclosures are mandatory in many states and are becoming more common regardless of the state or federal requirements. A home seller disclosure is statement signed by both the home seller and the buyer listing all the pre-existing conditions of a home that could potentially affect the property value or future ability to sell.
A home disclosure is the responsibility of the seller – not the realtor or listing agent. While guidelines and disclosure forms can vary state to state, a federal disclosure for lead-based paint is required if the home was built prior to 1978. In fact, most disclosure guidelines are directed at older or existing homes, rather than new construction.
Material Facts are an important part of seller disclosures. A material fact can be any defect or situation that can impact the buyer’s decision to move forward on the purchase or the price and terms of the property sale. Here are some examples:
- Structural defects
- Property taxes
- Fire or flood damage
- Death in the home
Personal situations such as divorce, separation, job loss and other intimate matters are NOT material fact and do not have to be disclosed.
In new subdivisions, builders may choose to give additional disclosures such as future land use plans for new roads, new commercial projects, transportation intrusions (like air or rail traffic noise) and other issues that could impact a person’s decision to choose a certain neighborhood. While these disclosures may not be mandatory, current trends lean toward over disclosure to avoid possible litigation down the road.
Home seller disclosures are another piece of the home buying puzzle, but with a little due diligence, you can make them fit. Know your rights, and know what you are buying, and all the pieces will fall into place.