Blog Post

Understanding the Importance of Disclosures in Real Estate

Disclosures are a crucial aspect of the home-selling process. Though the disclosure form may appear lengthy and complex, it is essential to complete it accurately. Failure to disclose certain issues or providing false information can lead to legal repercussions, even after the sale is finalized.

Compliance with Laws

Adhering to federal, state, and local disclosure laws is mandatory. While federal requirements are minimal, one significant federal mandate is the disclosure of lead paint. Homes built before 1978 must disclose any known presence of lead paint and provide prospective buyers with an EPA pamphlet.

State and local disclosure laws vary significantly, but commonly required disclosures include:

  • Pest infestations
  • Water infiltration
  • Mold Issues
  • Smoke damage
  • Foundation and Structural Integrity
  • Environmental hazards
  • Death in the home

Written Disclosures

All disclosures must be provided in writing to potential buyers. Verbal disclosures, regardless of their thoroughness, are not legally sufficient.

Patent vs. Latent Defects

When completing a disclosure form, you may encounter the terms “patent” and “latent.” A patent defect is visible and generally does not require disclosure. In contrast, a latent defect is hidden and must be disclosed.

Addressing Remediated Issues

In most instances, even if a problem has been fully resolved, it must still be disclosed as part of the property’s history.

The Role of REALTORS®

Engaging a qualified local REALTOR® can significantly reduce the risk of errors during the disclosure process. REALTORS® can assist in identifying what needs to be disclosed, determining when it is appropriate to indicate that you are unaware of certain information, and more. Give us a call and we would be happy to answer any questions.


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