The Dangers Of Non-Disclosure

If you’re trying to sell your house, you probably already know that you must, by law, disclose any problems associated with the property.  However, some sellers have a tendency to think that not pointing out the flaws in their home will bring them more money on the sale of their home.  And that may be true; however, there are many problems that could arise later on down the line due to non-disclosure of your homes past and present issues.

Non-disclosure lawsuits are on the rise.   Once upon a time it was a “buyer beware” market but not anymore.  Ask any realtor and they will tell you that non-disclosure ranks as one of their three biggest problems during the sale and after the sale.

Especially if the seller has made concentrated efforts to cover up the problematic issues.   Another thing to make note of is that after you have completed a repair, it must be documented.  If you complete a repair and it’s not documented, and issues arise down the road, you could still be held liable.

A seller must disclose anything that could affect the property’s value.  Things such as foundation problems, etc. and in some states you must also disclose any risk of natural disasters such as the home being in a flood plain or if there is a high risk of earthquakes.   Additionally, some states also require that you disclose neighborhood nuisances like a barking dog or any other type of noise nuisance.   The non-disclosure rule applies to everyone.  Even if you sell your house “as is” you still have to abide by the non-disclosure laws of your state.   Below are a list of items that should be included in your property disclosure report.  Some of these may vary from state to state.

• Completed repairs or repairs you were made aware of by the previous owners

• Past or present termite issues

• Any past or present water damage or moisture issues

• Mold

• Lead

• Natural hazards such as the risk of flooding, earthquakes and wildfires

• Past history that includes a notorious haunting or horrific events such as a murder, etc.

• A historical designation that limits remodeling

• Special zoning

• Environmental issues

When in doubt you should disclose.  However, just because you disclosed an issue, doesn’t necessarily mean you are obligated to fix the issue.  You can negotiate the repairs with the buyer as terms of the contract.  Or you could just include an “as is” clause in the contract for the repairs in question.

Talk to your realtor about everything in your home that needs to be disclosed.  Don’t ever keep information from your realtor.  He is there to help you.  Not disclosing important issues is serious business and could land you in a lawsuit later.  You will then have to pay for the repairs anyway.  So do yourself a favor and save everyone the time and trouble and be diligent about what your buyer needs to know.

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