When you are trying to sell your house you carefully prepare, doing everything you can to make the house look as good as possible. You want buyers to fall in love with it. So, when it comes time to fill out the Seller’s Disclosure you might feel conflicted.
If you want buyers to want to buy your house why would you let them know all the things that could be wrong with it?
The answer is simple: you want to avoid any legal trouble.
Sellers can be held liable for hiding problems that the house has. For this reason, here are some basic rules that you should follow when it comes to your Seller’s Disclosure.
Most homeowners know that the big things need to be disclosed, but what about the little things? For example, many home sellers think things like leaky windows don’t need to be disclosed, but they are wrong.
Just because you have gotten used to living with things that need minor repairs does not mean that other people will feel the same way.
When in doubt, disclose the problem.
Don’t forget to include recent repairs that you have made. If you leave these out and it turns out that there is a problem with the repair, you could be held liable.
Providing buyers with a copy of any inspection reports that you have is a good way to ensure that buyers can’t claim they didn’t know about a problem. Providing too much information is a much safer way to avoid legal troubles versus carefully trying to decide what information you can get away with not sharing.
Disclosing problems from the start can actually help you during the closing process. If a buyer finds a problem they didn’t know about during their inspection they are more likely to try to negotiate the price down further.
If you don’t know about a problem then you cannot be held liable for it. So, don’t worry if a problem is turned up in the future that you had no knowledge of.
Make sure you disclose what you do know, but don’t worry about trying to find every problem that could potentially be there.
If you don’t know the answer to some of the questions on the Seller’s Disclosure then leave it blank. If you try to guess or come up with estimates on questions the buyer can come back saying that you lied on the report or were purposefully trying to mislead them.
If you are listing the square footage of the house make sure to indicate which method you used to calculate it. There are actually several different ways to determine square footage and each one comes out with a slightly different answer.
When completing disclosures always include all of the information that you know. Buyers like to be in the know and will be less likely to back out of a deal when they believe you are being honest with them. If the inspection finds major problems you did not disclose you will lose the trust of the buyer and possibly the sale altogether.