What Are Home Sellers Required to Disclose to Buyers?

What Are Seller's Required to Tell Buyers at the Time of Sale?Homes have a tendency to be viewed as relatively stable structures, but the truth is more complex than that. The structure is affected by any number of forces that surround it, including those that are both natural and man-made. Most sellers are aware of the quirks of their home after living in it for so long. They know the bathroom window sticks about halfway up, and that the attic smells during the summer but not during the winter. So the question becomes: just how many details is a Palm Springs home seller required to share? We'll look at what the rules say and the benefits of being honest.

For informational purposes only. Always consult with an attorney, tax, or financial advisor before proceeding with any real estate transaction.

State Laws

According to these Northern Virginia Realtors, each state dictates what a seller is supposed to tell the would-be buyers. This is partially because different states face different threats (e.g., hurricanes are only relevant in coastal areas, etc.) and partially because each state has its own thoughts on what home buyers need to know.

In general, the laws address the most hazardous conditions, such as the presence of asbestos, lead, termites, and malfunctioning wires. Sellers who have taken steps to eradicate the problem may believe there's no need to mention the damages, but they're still required to disclose the matter to the buyer. They need to provide information about the repairs that were done, so buyers can make up their own minds about the quality and extent of the work.

The Point of an Inspection

Sellers may be confused about their disclosure requirements. After all, what is the point of an inspection if the seller fills the buyer in on everything? But an inspection is not a substitute for disclosure, which is why the buyers can still sue the seller even in the case of a full inspection. It's just one reason why real estate agents encourage total honesty, so there are no surprises for either party down the line.

The Facts of the Matter

Most sellers have likely already considered that accusations can be difficult for a buyer to prove. If the buyer wants to take legal action, they have to both discover the flaw, prove that it existed before they moved in, and show that the previous homeowners knew about it and did nothing. But even if this is the case, the buyer can still take up an inordinate amount of time from a seller if they choose to sell. Proactively listing all known defects about the house can inspire confidence in buyers who don't want the wool pulled over their eyes.

Selling As-Is

There are few facts to know before selling a home as-is:

  • As-is allows sellers to sell the home without making repairs or concessions to the buyers.
  • It's recommended for homes with serious structural problems and hazardous conditions.
  • State laws may still require some degree of disclosure, and sellers are required to be honest when asked directly about the property.
  • Conventional buyers are often turned off by as-is homes, and real estate agents will advise clients to stay away from these properties.
  • Sellers may take a loss on their home by primarily attracting home flippers or DIY buyers.

Sellers don't need to know every square inch of their property to give the buyers an idea of what they're getting into. It's all about being forthcoming and as honest as possible from the first open house to the final day of closing.

For informational purposes only. Always consult with an attorney, tax, or financial advisor before proceeding with any real estate transaction.

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