What's the Purpose of a Seller's Disclosure

There are quite a few things to bring to the table when you are selling your home. Working with a professional real estate agent from CENTURY 21 North East is a great way to keep a seller organized and ensure the paperwork is addressed correctly and submitted in a timely manner. A seller’s disclosure is but one of those very important documents you will bring to the table. 

What is a Seller's Disclosure? 

A seller’s disclosure is simply a statement prepared by the current property owner relating the condition of the property to prospective buyers, detailing negative aspects. A seller’s disclosure is required by most, but not all, states. The requirements vary widely from state to state. California has one of the strictest sets of requirements, while Maryland has one of the least strict. Some states employ the “caveat emptor” rule, which puts the burden of discovery on the buyer (it is basically a buy “as-is”, or “buyer beware” rule). Real estate agents will be well versed in the disclosure laws for your state. The disclosure statement will give a buyer a good sense of the repairs, remodels, specific physical hazards, and sometimes problematic neighbors or even recent deaths in the home (or if the house is suspected to be haunted). The buyer can confidently make an offer on your home factoring in the items on the disclosure statement you prepare in good faith. 

There are two times a seller’s disclosure statement can be provided. A seller can choose to make the disclosure available before listing the home. This way all prospective buyers will be well aware of any defects or negative aspects before moving forward with an offer. Alternatively, a seller can choose to wait to provide a disclosure after accepting an offer. They will then provide the statement to the buyer in a time frame designated by state law, usually three to five days. It often will be given to the buyer at the same time as the home inspection process, but it is not a substitute for the inspection. 

Why is a Seller’s Disclosure Important? 

A seller’s disclosure is very important to the seller. The disclosure serves as a legal document that will protect the seller in the event of future lawsuits. Buyers can seek damages from health hazards on items that were deliberately omitted, where a seller might be required to pay medical bills. A buyer can also seek damages from defects in the home that were deliberately omitted, where a seller might be required to pay for repairs. It is important, and in the best interest of the seller, to be completely honest and provide a comprehensive home repair history along with any negative aspects they are aware of specific to the property and the immediate area. It is important to review your prepared document with a real estate agent or real estate attorney. They are well versed in the laws of every state and will help ensure your document will protect you in the long run. 

The real estate professionals at CENTURY 21 North East look forward to working with you whether you are selling your home or looking to buy a home in ConnecticutMaineMassachusettsNew Hampshire, or Rhode Island. We work efficiently and effectively on your behalf to make your New England real estate transactions stress free and timely. Contact us today!

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