Photo by Angela Schmeidel Randall, acquired via Flickr.com

Disclosure: What, Why, and How

Posted November 27th, 2014 under pitfalls, say what?, renovations and repairs, smart selling.

When you sell your home, you are required to tell any potential buyers everything you know about defects in the property. This is called disclosure.

Disclosure allows the buyer to make an informed decision about the value of the property and whether they wish to purchase it.

If you fail to tell the buyer about a defect, this is called non-disclosure and can lead to a costly and time-consuming lawsuit.

Most sellers have no problem with the overall idea of disclosure, but there are some gray areas you may not have thought of.

What Should You Disclose?

You should disclose any defect you know about that has required a significant repair, or may need one in future.

This includes defects that have been repaired and are no longer a problem. For example, if you experienced water damage when you first moved in, but through re-grading and improved drainage you fixed the problem, you still need to disclose the original damage.

It also includes repairs you've done yourself, regardless of who paid for them or whether or not you made any claims on your insurance.

You should also include any renovations you made that simultaneously addressed defects. For example, if you changed your living room to an open concept, and during the renovation you corrected a faulty support column, that should be disclosed.

Some Surprising Disclosures

You must disclose if a person has died within the home, as would affect the purchasing decision for certain buyers.

You must disclose if the property has a reputation for being haunted, regardless of whether you personally believe in ghosts or the supernatural. (Again, because it can affect a buyer's decision.)

You must also disclose if the home has been used in the past for drug production, even if all damage has been completely repaired and the repairs have been certified.

What if You Don't Disclose?

If you fail to disclose something, you can be sued. This can happen even after many years, and even if the home has been re-sold after you sold it.

Even if your non-disclosure was an innocent mistake, a judge may still ask you to pay the value of any repairs, so it's better to disclose everything when you sell.

In Summary

I recommend you disclose everything you can think of to your agent, then let them present the information to buyers in the best possible light.

Your agent can also help you by reminding you of possible flaws you might not have considered. This helps to ensure that nothing is overlooked.

Want to know more about disclosure? Just ask me, I'll be happy to help.

--Peter

Get monthly real estate advice in your inbox, free! privacy policy