Legal Disclosures Home Sellers Should Be Aware Of

Selling a home is not quite a simple process of putting your home up for sale and then closing a deal with a buyer. It requires careful preparation on the part of the seller to ensure that all legal responsibilities are addressed to avoid any future complications.

Working through the legal aspects and paperwork is often tedious, especially if a seller is handling these matters independently. The services of a property settlement lawyer demystify every step while ensuring that you have all the information you need for the property transfer.

Still, it remains a seller's responsibility to understand what must be prepared beforehand. Requirements usually vary per state, but these are basics that every home seller must know before turning over a property.

Property Disclosures

It must be reiterated that laws vary from state to state. However, as a seller, it is wise to disclose any known conditions of the property to avoid issues that lead to lawsuits.

Repair and Damage History

Sellers must know the history of repairs that they have made in their home. These repairs could affect the overall structural integrity of the property being sold, so they should be inspected pre-selling.

Aside from repair history, home buyers will want to know the damage that the home has sustained. These are necessary to determine structural issues and health hazards, if any.

Always check against state laws to protect yourself from disagreements regarding home damages you may have been unaware of before selling. Sellers may also opt to have their home professionally inspected before putting up a listing. This allows you to make necessary repairs beforehand.

Before closing a deal, home buyers also typically employ a home inspector who examines the home's condition. From structural issues to safety risks, an inspector looks for defects in the home's interior and exterior areas.

When all known property conditions are laid on the table, the negotiation and closing process becomes easier.

Safety Hazards

There are occasions when the location of a property and the materials used in its building have significant bearings on its safety hazards. Federal law states that buyers are entitled to information about lead hazards present in homes built before 1978.

Safety hazards also include previous leakage or exposure of the home to toxic substances such as fuel, insecticides, construction materials such as paints and varnishes, and similar products. Home inspectors can also check for the presence of asbestos, radon, and other hazardous substances.

The risks of natural disasters in a particular location also matter in several states. Homes being located in seismic hazard zones, for example, must be brought to the awareness of home buyers. Earthquake-prone areas are also more susceptible to landslides and liquefaction, or the act of soil becoming unstable due to seismic movements.

Homeowners' Association Documents

This is not usually top of mind when preparing disclosures, but sellers should also turn over homeowners' association documents to the new homeowners.

Knowledge of HOA rules and regulations helps a buyer understand any agreements, fees, and restrictions they have with the association when they begin living in the property. When these are explicitly stated, home buyers will have little to no problem transitioning into their newly purchased homes. They will be prepared for any monthly dues and conditions for compliance.

How to Prepare a Disclosure Form

States usually require sellers to detail their disclosures in a pre-prepared form that you only need to fill out. Other states, on the other hand, allow more freedom in how to prepare property disclosures.

To ensure that you comply with legal requirements, seek your lawyer's assistance in accomplishing your statement, whether you have a form or not. Use simple, straightforward language to make conditions and defects clear for all parties involved. It may be an uncomfortable process to put your property's imperfections into writing, but honesty remains a must.

As a seller, thoroughness will work in your favor in the process of selling your home. Working with an inspector before listing your home makes you aware of any defects and potential problems you need to disclose with the buyer. A lawyer, on the other hand, assures compliance with laws and assists with paperwork.

By knowing all important details about your home and partnering with legal and real estate experts to guide you, you simplify the process and safeguard your reputation.

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Posted - 04/16/2021