When it comes to selling your home, honesty is always the best policy. As a seller, it can be tricky to navigate what exactly you need to disclose to the buyer about your home. Our rule of thumb is, if you’re not sure, you probably should disclose it.
Any experienced real estate agent will let you know exactly what you should disclose. However, for your own good, here are 5 things sellers are legally required to disclose to the buyer of their home.
1. Lead Paint
This item is a MUST when it comes to being upfront with potential buyers. If your home was built before 1978, each party in a transaction needs to sign a lead paint disclosure. This is a federal law and applies to every state. It doesn’t matter if you think the lead paint has been removed or not, it still needs to be disclosed.
2. Pest Infestation
Whether it’s snakes, mice, bats, or termites, in most states, sellers are required by law to disclose any sort of pest infestation or issue.
3. Emotional Defects
Depending on where you are selling your home, you may be required to disclose what is called “emotional defects” about a home — specifically, if a murder, suicide, or violent crime. In California, Civil Code 1710.2 requires that any death on a property does not need to be disclosed if it occurred more than three years prior to the sale of the home. However, if a buyer asks, this same statute requires the seller to disclose any death on the property more than 3 years old.
4. Property Drainage Issues
Settling, flooding, drainage, or grading problems should most definitely be disclosed to a potential buyer. It is always best to disclose major or unusual issues even if you believe the issue has been resolved. You could potentially save yourself thousands of dollars in legal fees!
5. Boundary Issues or Neighbor Disputes
It may not seem like a big deal that your fence is 1 foot inside your neighbor’s property line, or that your neighbors have built a treehouse for their kids that large Oak tree located in the center of your property line, but it can affect a new owner down the road. Disclose everything upfront to avoid headaches and legal battles down the road.
While this list is not exhaustive, it’s good to be aware of some of the things sellers are legally required to disclose. Always double check with your real estate agent and/or experienced lawyer to answer any of your questions!