Understanding Sellers Disclosures

The home buying process involves patience, planning, and asking plenty of questions. Buyers must be very intentional about the questions they ask about the home they are interested in. Knowing as much about the property as they can will help them make a confident and informed home buying decision. But the buyer is not the only one responsible for making sure they have all of the information they need. Sellers are required to provide a seller’s disclosure when selling their home. Here is everything you need to know about seller’s disclosures and how they impact both the seller and the buyer.

What Is A Seller’s Disclosure?

A seller’s disclosure is a combination of documents, usually put together by a real estate professional or lawyer, that are given to the seller during the home-selling process. These documents give the seller a space to document everything they know about the home and their experience there that could impact the value of the home.

These are typically yes or no questions that range from “has there ever been flooding in the home?” to “is there paranormal activity in the home?” This document is given to the buyer to review before closing on the home.

For Sellers: How To Make A Disclosure

The laws that determine how a seller makes a disclosure and what they are obligated to disclose vary from state to state. California has some of the strictest seller disclosure laws, while in South Carolina if both parties agree to forgo the seller’s disclosure, the law does not require one to be completed.

A seller’s disclosure can usually be completed electronically. It will ask the owner to disclose everything they know about the property including:

  • Water supply and sewage
  • Roof, walls, foundation, basement
  • Plumbing
  • Electric and heating
  • Termites and pests
  • Building codes and zoning laws and
  • The use of lead-based paint

Once completed, these documents are handed over to the buyer for review.

For Buyers: How To Interpret A Disclosure

The time period in which a buyer receives the seller’s disclosure varies from state to state. Some places require the seller to provide the disclosure before the buyer makes an offer, while others require it right before closing and after an offer is made. It is recommended to work with a real estate professional who can help you understand the terms of the disclosure and advise you on the right follow-up questions to ask.

If there are major issues disclosed and you change your mind about making an offer, you are allowed to withdraw your offer based on the findings.

Consequences Of An Incomplete Disclosure

It can be tempting for sellers to intentionally leave issues off of the disclosure that they feel will negatively impact the value of the home. However, this omission could have serious and long-term consequences. Most buyers will schedule an inspection to be done on the home before they buy. If they come across a major issue that the seller did not report, they may quickly lose trust in the seller.

Another reason to be honest on a seller’s disclosure is because if an omission is revealed, the buyer could take the seller to court to cover the costs of the repairs AND court fees.

Being honest up front protects the seller as well. Sellers that are honest on their disclosure protect themselves from buyers who come back months to sue the seller for defects they found in the home. When it comes to selling real estate, honesty is always the best policy.

Have Questions About Buying Or Selling A Home?

Jimmy Carroll has been helping families buy and sell real estate in the Isle of Palms, SC area for over 40 years. If you need assistance buying or selling a home, contact Jimmy Carroll Realty today!