Disclosure: It’s The Law

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When selling your home there is a laundry list of things to be done. From pricing to staging to open houses, there is a lot to prepare for. However, an important piece of selling your home is often one that is overlooked, that is the disclosure of any flaws or defects to potential buyers. Not only is it important, but in many states it is legally required.    

So what exactly are you suppose to disclose? Most states require disclosure of any œmaterial facts, that is anything that may affect the buyer™s decision or price offer. Some examples of material facts include the age of property components and systems, leaky roof or cracked foundation and information about future developments that might affect the property, such as planned roadways, etc. If you are questioning whether to disclose something, it™s usually safest just to do so. A buyer who proves you knowingly withheld material facts about your property can claim damages suffered or demand price concessions.

Disclosure laws vary from state to state and in some cases you may be legally bound to disclose information about crimes that may have occurred at the property, seismic activity, or notification to buyers about the proximity of a registered sex offender. Check with your Realtor for disclosure requirements specific to your area.

After  you have spoken with your Realtor and/or attorney and created a list of disclosures, it is a good idea to put everything down in writing. Most states require the use of special disclosure forms (Ohio is one of those states). After  reviewing  the form, the buyer should acknowledge receipt of the disclosure by signing and dating it at the bottom. It’s a good idea to collect the signed form from the buyer as soon as possible as the purchase contract can be rescinded at anytime up until this occurs and prior to the closing.

The most important thing to consider when disclosing material facts is that anything questionable will more than likely be questioned. It™s a good idea to think about what you would want to know about your new home and use that as a guide for what to disclose to your potential buyers. It™s also not a bad idea to remember that there is the potential of legal recourse for anything you fail to disclose and it™s clear you were aware of.  

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