Seller Disclosures When Selling a Home As Is

by : Kris Koonar

When you are all set to sell your home, it is essential to keep in mind that it is one of your legal and moral obligations to disclose all the problems affecting the desirability or the value of the property. Concealing major defects or problems fraudulently is considered illegal. Many states even require a proactive role from the sellers to produce written disclosures about the condition of their houses. This rule is applied not just to the regular sellers selling new or repaired houses, but also to all those who are selling a house 'as-is'. Any seller who fails to do so can face a legal claim that might cost them dearly.

A seller disclosure usually includes all the 'material' defects or problems existing in the property before presenting it to a potential buyer. Some of the primary items that must be added in a seller disclosure include the mention of electrical or plumbing defects and potential hazardous conditions hampering the safety concerns while staying in the house such as an asbestos insulation or an abandoned well. The sellers would also need to specifically mention about any encroachments or any alteration or addition done to the property without a building permit. If the house has fences that are placed beyond the property line, those also need to be mentioned in the seller disclosure document. Additionally, you may enquire about all legal aspects that need to be mentioned in the disclosure from your real estate agent and include them accordingly. Some states also require mentioning of any acts of violence or crime that have taken place in the property.

Damage caused by any natural calamities in the past or susceptibility to any damage in the future should be mentioned in the disclosure. The list of registered sex offenders in the area is also included among the mandatory disclosures.

Some state laws include the mention of deaths that have occurred within the last three years in the property, leaky roofs, and disturbing problems around the neighborhood such as dog barks during the night or blaring music from nearby houses. Environmental hazards can also be included to be on the safer side. While selling a house 'as-is', you need to mention all those items and fittings in the house that may need repairs or replacement.

It is usually not required to hire a home inspector to find out the problems; you can specify those that are within your personal knowledge. Nevertheless, you may hire a general contractor to help you in determining the major defects, which will help you in gaining the confidence of the buyers and assure them about the fairness of the deal.

It is important to note that some states perceive it as your responsibility to find out the defects and not turn a blind eye on the possibilities of a potential problem. Although you may initially get away with it, once the buyer finds out and faces problems, you may end up settling the matter in the court, compensating the buyer for your lack of responsibility.

It is advisable to put all the disclosures in a written format, even the smallest issue that you have discussed with the seller personally. In case of doubts and queries, ask your agent to help you with all the relevant information you need to provide in the disclosure form. Your agent can also help by providing you with a disclosure form. Disclosing the problems does not mean that you have to repair or mend them. It is just an honest confession on your part that may help in negotiating the prices and avoid future complications.