When selling your house you have to disclosure to the buyer all known facts that affect the value of the property. The document used for this asks for things such as rental restrictions, if the home has been remodeled, instances of mold, existence of cast iron pipes, etc.
The laws vary from one state to another and if you have questions about disclosure situations that are not included in the forms, consult a real estate lawyer who knows your state's disclosure law.
In general, anything that lowers the value of the property or anything that would affect the buyer's decision to purchase or the price and terms the buyer offers should be disclosed including:
- Natural hazards
- Flood plains
- Zoning changes
- Pollution – noise, air, ground, and water
- Fire hazards
There are some general questions for most states, but there are some region-specific, such as California and Nevada earthquakes and Hurricanes in Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia
Then there are special situations, including:
Sex offenders in the area, dangerous dogs such as pit bulls, perceived or real “haunted” status, death on the property, especially if caused by a gruesome murder (In some states, you are required to disclose if someone died on the property within the last three years.)
Other facts such as someone dying in the property of AIDS, you might not have to disclose since it may violate privacy and discrimination laws.
When filling out the disclosure forms, you will be required to fill them out yourself. It is NOT the job of the realtor and should only be filled by the seller of the property. Some Tips: Answer all questions to the best of your ability. Don’t sweat the small stuff, but make sure you disclose everything that you’d want to be disclosed to you if you were the buyer.
If you don’t know the answer to a question (such as the exact age of the roof if you’re not the original owner or the like), answer “Do Not Know.” But the fact of not having precise data about the defects that you know exist does not allow you to answer "I do not know" to all the questions. This will always raise a red flag.
About the author: Beatriz Rocha is a real estate professional affiliated with Coldwell Banker www.bearocha.com