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What information must you disclose when selling property?

California residents who are contemplating selling their home may be interested in the requirement that a seller has to disclose problems to the buyer. While the way the seller makes such disclosures and the detail involved varies from one state to another, in most states, the seller may not conceal what he or she knows to be problematic. In California, for instance, the disclosure is detailed. However, only the issues the seller is aware of normally has to be disclosed.

The seller may wish to hire an inspector to determine if problems exist such as termites. Doing this eliminates the chance a buyer will cite a breach of contract after the sale is made due to an existing problem with the structure. Once the seller is aware of a problem, he or she is obligated to disclose it. Although disclosure is mandated, fixing the problem is not.

One important disclosure concerns the prior use of lead-based paint in the building that is being sold. According to the 1992 Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act, if such paint was used in a house that was built before 1978, its existence must be disclosed. The buyer must be given 10 days in which to test the premises for lead paint. It is advisable for the disclosures to be written out and obtain both the buyer's and the seller's signature. This confirms the disclosures were made by the seller and received by the buyer.

When a seller fails to disclose information about a home, this lack of duty may interfere with a sale agreement. If the failure to disclose leads to future issues, the seller may end up in litigation. A real estate attorney can be of assistance in this regard.

Source: FindLaw, "Required Real Estate Disclosures When Selling Property", accessed on Feb. 24, 2015

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