Disclose, Disclose, Disclose

You can never disclose too much about your house. The more you disclose the better; it will keep you out of court. It is better to over disclose any defects in your home so that the buyer has all the information to make a decision as to whether they want to purchase your home, then to hide something and get sued later. Anything that would affect the buyer's decision should be disclosed such as noise, odors, barking dogs, repairs, etc.  Most Real Estate Agents will tell you when it doubt, disclose, disclose, disclose. 

Property Disclosure Forms

Real estate disclosure laws vary from state to state, but most states require that the seller provide a statutory property disclosure form to the buyer. The property disclosure form is for the protection for all parties. Properties exempt from disclosure laws are foreclosure properties, estate and probate properties and properties owned by trusts. It is still up to the buyer to do all their investigations and inspections.

If you are selling your home in an “as is” condition, you still must disclose any material facts and conditions about your home that may influence a buyer's decision to purchase your home. So if one of your home's systems is not working, disclose it. If you have made any major repairs to your roof, repaired a plumbing leak, had a mold problem, you must disclose all past problems with your home even if they have been repaired. Not disclosing can be construed as fraud.
Other disclosure forms that are used in a real estate transaction consist of the following:

  • Mold Disclosure
  • Lead Based Paint Disclosure
  • Natural Hazards Disclosure Forms (whether your property is located in an earthquake, fire, flood, wind area, etc.)

FSBO's should check their local state laws and ordinances to find out what disclosure forms they need, and what other health and safety laws they must comply with before selling their home. You may want to pay for a physical inspection to find out if your home is in compliance with local laws and to make sure your home's systems are in good working order.  Costs vary between $300.00 and $500.00 depending on the size of your home.
You should pay attention when negotiating with your buyer as to the customary items that sellers may be asked to repair to make sure they are in compliance with local health and safety laws.    The buyer will also conduct a physical inspection during their inspection contingency period, and their home inspector will advise them if there is something that needs attention.  It is up to you and the buyer to decide who pays for what. Sometimes the buyer will come back and ask the seller to pay additional costs so be prepared just in case if you have to give the buyer a concession or fix something.  Keep in mind that many real estate transactions fall apart over not disclosing that something is broker or not working, and then not being willing to repair it.    

Consult with an Attorney

It is recommended that a FSBO consult with a real estate attorney to make sure that they are in compliance with local real estate laws when selling their home. Real estate disclosure laws are complex, and a real estate attorney is the best person who can advise you and answer any questions you may have.