All About Seller’s Disclosures
Sellers want to sell “as is” and buyers want to know everything that has ever happened on the property. Sellers are required to disclose any problems and buyers need to know what they are buying—no matter what! The end goal is a happy buyer who knows the good and the bad of the property and a seller who can rest soundly at night knowing he sold a home with no dirty secrets.
What do you have to tell? – The Texas Association of REALTORS® Seller’s Disclosure Notice is 5 pages and covers an array of items—from the age of the roof to the type of water heater. However, some disclosures are more complicated than just marking a box on the form. Specialty disclosure items such as violent deaths on the property, hauntings, environmental issues and previous drug manufacturing all have specific guidelines to follow in order to make sure you properly disclose. It’s would be difficult to go into every possibility, but as a general rule, even if you don’t have to, you should disclose it! There is not a good secret when it comes to selling your property. As a seller, you want to be the source of the disclosure and avoid any potential litigation. It is pretty much a guarantee that whatever your secret is won’t stay quiet forever. It will come out eventually—probably when a nosy neighbor knocks on the door with a plate of cookies to welcome the new buyers to the area. Best advice—don’t do it! Share what you know and protect yourself from legal problems by being honest about all issues.
But…I don’t want to scare anyone away! Do I have to?! – As a seller, you are legally required to provide a property disclosure. The Texas Property Code sets guidelines on who, when and what must be disclosed. All single-family residential sales must include a seller’s disclosure, with a few exceptions. Foreclosures, estate property and new constructions are not required to provide seller’s disclosures. Notice that a “For Sale by Owner” transaction is NOT exempt from the disclosure requirement, even if there is no Agent involved. Generally speaking, most residential sales require a disclosure notice.
The bottom line when it comes to disclosure is very simple—disclose, disclose, disclose. It truly can’t be stressed enough. Many sellers worry about scaring buyers away with full transparent disclosure. Well, quite honestly, you might—and that is okay! The truth is the truth and honesty is always the best policy. Disclosure forms are sort of like an overview of the property. It is not all bad! The forms give the buyer general information on the structural and mechanical systems and also notifies them if there are any issues. Don’t assume this is a bad thing—it’s only bad if you try to hide it! Every house has issues—even a brand new house. Disclosing the facts will protect you. After all, keeping a secret is much harder than just sharing it!
Lisa E. Priest is a local Broker/REALTOR® and Property Manager with Picket Fence Realty, Inc. You can reach her via phone or text at 903-948-3343 or read more at BuyPalestine.com.