The steps to selling a house can become a complicated process, especially when you are worried about keeping everything legal. However, the types of disclosure will vary among state to state on what is required, so ask your real estate agent or contact your local real estate lawyer about what is needed. However, there are a few documents that are the most common. Even if it is not required, consider disclosing such information anyway so that you have your bases covered and a buyer cannot sue you later for lack of knowledge.
Some states will require you to make a disclosure report that says what types of repairs you know are needed on the home. Most of the disclosure reports are a questionnaire that has a list of possible defects and you can answer either yes, no, or I don’t know. It will be different from one area to another but it will usually include things like cracks in the foundation, leaking issues, ceiling or roof problems, HVAC system issues, and if the home is considered to be in a floodplain.
When you are selling your home, consider doing a home inspection report because you will be able to see the defects your home has incurred by a professional. It is true, you are required to show this report to prospective buyers, especially if you have not made such repairs. But listing several “I don’t know” answers to the disclosure will allow buyers to negotiate your asking price when they do a home inspection report of their own.
If your home was built before 1978 you are required by federal law to make a disclosure about the home and if it had lead based paint, and if so if it had been removed since it was used. Most of the time there will be a 10 day grace period, in which, the new buyer will have their change to do an inspection on the home. The buyer can sign away that right, but it has to be done in writing, this will normally occur if you are trying to have a fast home sale. Even if your home was sold after 1978 it is still a good idea for you to include the paperwork in your forms when selling the house.
This can be a tricky situation depending upon how the person had died. Some home buyers do not care whether a death occurred on the property, and for historical, vast properties, deaths seem rather natural. However, others do not want to purchase a home that is potentially haunted, and they would want to know the details of recent deaths, curious hauntings, or gruesome or violent acts that occurred within the property boundaries. Be careful when sharing such information, though. Federal law requires that some medical conditions such as AIDS be deemed as private information, so you may be stepping on discriminatory laws when offering such information. Thus, when you know that death or violence has occurred, be sure to talk with your lawyer on what details can or should be reported.
Rumors and Truth
On one hand, it is better to be safe than sorry in disclosing information. But on the other hand, you would hate to scare off buyers with all the terrible things that may have supposedly been said about your home and your neighborhood. In such cases, it’s best to be in the buyer’s shoes and make it easy for them to make their own judgments about your home. When they ask about the crime rate, give them a link to your local police records. When they ask about noise, invite them to come back during a busy time. Be truthful, but state it is your opinion when commenting about the home’s safety and condition and that you could be wrong. Buyers appreciate honest answers and only go on trial when they feel that they had been conned about the home sale.