What Must Sellers Reveal in Disclosures?
If you’re making an offer on a house, one of the first things you’ll get from the seller is a property disclosure. This is also referred to as a property disclosure statement, a real estate disclosure form, or a home disclosure.
In some states, seller’s disclosures are required, but in Southern New Jersey, this isn’t standard practice. However, I always recommend my sellers provide a disclosure since they increase transparency and protect them from legal liability.
“When in doubt, disclose.”
In this disclosure, a seller provides written information about known things that could impact the property’s value. There are a number of different things you have to disclose as a home seller, but today I’m going to highlight a few of the most forgotten (and most impactful) items:
- HOA information. If the home is located within a homeowners association, you should disclose that fact. Associations generally impose monthly fees on homeowners, and they can impose rules on their membership that a prospective buyer might or might not find acceptable. You also need to know about the HOA’s financial health and provide this information to the buyer so they can make an informed purchasing decision.
- Repairs. If your home has major structural issues, you obviously have to disclose them to a potential seller. In addition to repairs that need to be made, you must also disclose repairs that have been completed. Buyers need to know the home’s repair history to have their home inspectors pay extra attention to problem areas so that they’re aware of probable future issues. You may also want to disclose electrical or plumbing repairs and any other problems you would want to know about if you were going to buy the home and live in it.
- Federal seller’s disclosure requirement. If your home was built before 1978, federal law requires that you disclose that the property may produce exposure to lead from lead-based paint. It was federally banned for consumer use during that year. Sellers of homes built before 1978 must also provide buyers with an EPA pamphlet titled, “Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home.” Then they must give buyers 10 days to conduct a paint inspection or risk assessment for lead-based paint, and include a “lead warning statement” in the contract.
The key thing to remember about disclosures is that when you’re in doubt, disclose. Failing to disclose something you were aware of beforehand could lead to a messy legal situation.
If you have any questions about what you need to disclose when selling your home or anything else related to real estate, don’t hesitate to reach out via phone or email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.