When selling a home, there are a lot of steps to take to get to the point of completion. One of the biggest is disclosing information on the property that the next owner should be aware of. Follow your state’s laws in order to avoid liability lawsuits and keep everything out in the open.
Lead Paint – This is a national law that applies to every state. If your home is older than 1978, a lead paint disclosure needs to be signed by all parties in the transaction. If you are not aware of any lead paint issues, this act does not require you to investigate to find out. The buyer simply needs to be made aware of the possibility.
Property Damage – Any material issues that you know of need to be reported. If there are any leaks, any drainage issues, structural damage, these will all need to be reported. The same goes for any major repairs that were made in the past. You will be asked about certain details on the disclosure form such as the roof and the septic or sewer system. Basically, if you can think of it, you should have it listed. It is better to over-disclose than to withhold information that may cause a problem further down the road.
Stigmatized Property – Although the law states you should disclose everything you are aware of, you are not generally obligated to disclose any past events that would stigmatize the property. A stigmatized property is one where a homicide, suicide, or violent crime has been committed on site at some point in the past. Consider being open about this, however, as most buyers will find out about the house’s history from the neighbors. It is never good to look like you were hiding anything from the buyer.
Remember that it is important to be honest with the information of your property. If an issue is found during an inspection or after the new buyer moves in, you could be held reliable in a lawsuit for not disclosing it.
The disclosure process may sound stressful, but being as honest and meticulous as possible will help you get through it. Soon you will be one step closer to finishing the transaction and closing the sale on the house.