Death, Flood, Suicide, Damage – Which one of these things do you have to disclose? Or do you have to disclose all of them?
The Seller’s Disclosure Form is a form that all homeowners must fill out to the best of their ability before listing a property. Even if the homeowner doesn’t live in the house, they must disclose as much information as they know about the house. There are usually three answers to all questions, Yes, No, I Don’t Know. For landlords and investors, many will check the box for
“I Don’t Know” because they literally don’t know. If they do know an answer to a question, they must respond.
Each state is slightly different on what they require sellers to disclose. In Washington DC, the seller of a condo or cooperative unit is to provide information only as to the sellers unit, and not to any common areas or elements outside of the unit. This could be very different when you are talking about a single-family house. Sellers must disclose structural conditions of the roof, fireplace, basement if applicable, walls and floors, insulation, windows, and heating and cooling systems within the property. Sellers disclosure forms will include any known defects of appliances or external and environmental issues or damage to the property.Sellers have to disclose if they have knowledge of any substances, materials, or environmental hazards such as underground storage tanks, asbestos,
Sellers have to disclose if they have knowledge of any substances, materials, or environmental hazards such as underground storage tanks, asbestos, lead-based paint, radon gas, formaldehyde, or contaminated soil affecting the property.
Sellers must disclose about any zoning violations or miss conforming uses of the property. For Washington DC, sellers must acknowledge if the property is a DC landmark included in a designated historic site or designated a historic property.
Sellers also must disclose if they have been cited for a violation of any historic preservation law during ownership. Easements must also be disclosed.
[Read More: How to Get More Buyers Interested in Your Home]
Disclosure forms are very similar in that the seller must disclose any damage, renovations or issues they have had with the main materials of the house including any wood destroying insects or pests. They also want to know if any improvements have required a permit.
However, when it comes to matters that don’t affect the structure or integrity of the house itself, you may not have to disclose those items. If the homeowners association or condo Association has levied a special assessment you may have to disclose that with the sale. However, things that you don’t have to disclose include whether or not you feel your house is haunted. Also, if someone has passed away in the house, this is usually not something you have to disclose.
On the flipside, if the house has a sort of stigma or perhaps the neighborhood has a certain character, buyers may ask whether a death occurred by suicide, drugs or murder. While you may not legally have to disclose that, you are required to answer questions honestly. So far as I know, only California requires that sellers disclose the fact that a death has occurred on the property but only within the past three years.
For more information on sellers disclosure forms and if you have a specific question on what you have to disclose please contact our office today.