*I am not an attorney nor do I pretend to practice law. The following information is just that, information to get buyers and sellers to think about their home purchase or sale. Please consult your own qualified real estate attorney should you have questions concerning real estate law, disclosure law and/or your own personal situation.
Disclose, disclose, disclose, that’s what sellers and their agent(s) are required to do when a home is sold. From the seemingly innocent leaky faucet and barking dog next door, to more serious issues like mold or school attendance boundaries. If it affects the value or potential value of a property it must be disclosed. Disclosure is required by the seller, the listing agent(s), and the buyer’s agent(s) in most real estate transactions.
A seller’s agent should make sure the seller is aware of their obligation to disclose all material defects that may affect the value or potential value of the property. The seller’s agent also has a duty to complete a diligent physical inspection of the home and note items that may be of concern. If the seller’s agent is aware of any neighborhood issues that may affect the home’s value, those also should be documented.
A buyer’s agent should read the completed disclosure documents prior to giving them to a buyer. If the documents aren’t completed (which happens more than one would think), the documents should be sent back to the seller to complete. A buyer’s agent has a duty to complete a diligent physical inspection of the home and note items that may be of concern. If the agent is aware of any neighborhood issues that may affect the home’s value, those also should be documented.
The buyer’s obligation in the process is to read the disclosures, ask questions, have the home inspected and check things out for themselves. If a buyer is thinking of expanding the home, go to the city’s planning and building department and ask what is required. Your agent may have an idea, but your agent isn’t going to prevent you from building. The city can! What is the FAR (floor/area ratio), setbacks, height limitations and tree removal requirements? Is the home in the right school district? Is redistricting a possibility? Is there currently space in a particular grade level? Ask, don’t assume and try to get the answer in writing.
Too often buyers want their agents (or others) to weed out the issues that might be of concern to the buyer. Horse pucky! How does the agent (or anyone else for that matter) know what is going on in the inner recesses of a buyer’s mind? That obligation duty falls on the buyer. Buyers…Read all the disclosures, have the property fully inspected and check out everything that is a concern to you prior to removing your property condition contingency.
Note: In our most recent legal update, we were told of some new advisories coming within the next few months. Stay tuned.
*I’d like to think the law offices of Thief, Grief and Steal for providing the introductory disclosure to my disclosure post. Just kidding!