In Washington State sellers are required to provide to the buyers a Seller’s Disclosure Statement (Form-17), here are 5 things you should know about real estate disclosures.
What is a Disclosure?
It’s a statement that seller provides to the buyer and is an opportunity for the buyers to learn as much as possible about the property. It is an opportunity for the sellers to disclose anything that might impact the value of the home. In Washington State it is common to provide the disclosure to the buyers even before they receive the offer.
How is the Disclosure made to Buyers?
Disclosure laws vary from state to state. In Washington State we use the Form-17 to provide seller’s disclosure. Form-17 is a six page questionnaire that the sellers complete and sign that the information provided is correct.
What do the Sellers disclose to potential buyers?
Any changes, improvements, upgrades, major repairs have to be disclosed. Any work done without proper permitting should be disclosed. Any issues with the property, such as pests, neighborhood nuisances, defects, defected appliances, etc. Failure to disclose may result in messy disputes or major law suits after the sale of the property. If you or your real estate agent discovers a material fact that is not listed in the disclosure form, he/she has an obligation to disclose the material fact to the buyer and selling agent.
Is a Disclosure the same as an Inspection?
No. The Disclosure is just a statement given to the buyer by the seller documenting their knowledge of the property. During the home inspection some issues might be discovered by the buyer’s home inspector that are unknown to the seller. Buyer might request the Seller to fix some of the issues on the Inspection Report.
When does the buyer usually receive a seller’s disclosure statement?
In our state is common to upload the Form-17 to NWMLS (Northwest Multiple Listing Service) as soon as the property is listed. This makes it accessible to every real estate agent to provide to their clients. Buyers are required to read the statement carefully, ask questions and then sign it off.
Are there any other Disclosures?
Yes, based on the property, seller might be required to provide other disclosures, such as Lead Based Paint Disclosure, FIRPTA, etc.
Truthful and Full Disclosure upfront is the best way to go. This gives a piece of mind to the buyer and prospects the seller from potential liabilities.