Featured image

Finance

What Elements Should the Seller Disclose to the Potential Buyer?

In the United States, buying and selling real estate follows strict rules. One of the essential elements of these transactions is a document known as the “disclosure document.” This document is important for each of the stakeholders in the context of the sale of real estate, as it provides essential information that enables them to act with full knowledge of the facts.

By Maryline Lacorre 9 Feb 2021

The property disclosure document

In general, the disclosure document provides all of the details about the condition of a property that could negatively affect its value. Any concealment of material or attempt to conceal material may result in a criminal conviction. Furthermore, the sale of real estate “as is” does not generally relieve the seller of his obligation to disclose. The rules relating to the disclosure document concern any owner wishing to sell real estate, but more particularly those who convert homes and bet on short-term transactions.

Information inside the disclosure document

Environmental

If the property for sale presents an increased risk of damage due to a natural disaster or if it has been or could be contaminated by the environment, the seller is obliged to communicate this information to the buyer. For instance, the federal government requires the notification of the presence of lead-based paint on any property built before 1978. 

Repairs

To enable the buyer to examine the areas that have been repaired, sellers should present the repairs in the disclosure document. For property equipped, Florida law requires swimming pools, hot tubs, and spas that received a certificate of completion on or after October 1, 2000, to have at least one safety feature as specified by Section 515.27, Florida Statutes.

Water damage

Water is often an insidious problem that can affect the structure of a home and even the health of its inhabitants. Thus, the seller of real estate in the United States must disclose any past or present water leaks or water damage.

Homeowners association

If the real estate property is governed by a Homeowners Association (HOA), this should be noted. The seller must be able to provide information about the financial health of the HOA to the buyer so that the buyer can make an informed purchase decision. He must add information about the membership, shared driveways/fences, and any other relevant information.

Other information

Other items that may be part of the information document include data on the neighborhood surrounding the property. Indeed, if the latter is in a particular historic district, it could affect the ability of the new owner to carry out repairs and modifications. Ultimately, these difficulties could translate into higher costs, to be taken into account when negotiating. A seller also has to disclose information relating to drainage or grading issues, zoning, pending litigation, unlicensed alterations, and easement boundary disputes. 

The disclosure document is important when buying real estate in the United States. Sellers need to share certain information with potential buyers. In addition to moral reasons, it is important to avoid the expense and hassle of a possible lawsuit after the sale.

Most read articles

Subscribe to the newsletter now