In California, the premise of disclosure laws is that sellers must reveal anything that could influence a buyer’s decision to purchase a home. That’s a sweeping premise! And if sellers fall short, a lawsuit could result. In fact, noncompliance with disclosure laws is a leading trigger of real estate lawsuits.
Nothing’s worse than lying awake in your new home, worrying that the sale of your previous home could bring on a lawsuit. Understanding the truth about disclosure laws will give you peace of mind. Do you believe any of the following myths?
There Are Just a Few Disclosure Laws Covering Obvious Problems
Disclosure laws cover issues you’d expect, such as mold, leaky roofs, and compromised foundations. But they also address less apparent issues. You must reveal facts about radon gas, hidden water damage, urea formaldehyde, the home’s siding, HVAC, electrical, and water systems, and much more.
Disclosure Laws Are the Same Everywhere
Disclosure laws vary from state to state, and sometimes even by city. Some of Santa Cruz County's disclosure laws address some unique concerns. Here’s a partial list:
- Endangered species on the property
- Blow sand, which can impact a home’s exterior
- Coastal zone information
- Tsunami hazards
- Plumbing that doesn’t meet water efficiency standards
Disclosure Laws Apply Only to Physical Features of My House
A home inspection helps with disclosure law requirements. But revealing a home’s physical flaws isn’t enough. Non-physical issues go on the table, too.
As the seller, for example, you must inform potential buyers about the neighbor who revs up his Harley motorcycle outside your bedroom window at 5 a.m. You must tell them about the endless traffic that winds past your yard every summer. If your property is subject to a Homeowners Association, you must reveal its bylaws. You must even speak up if you think you have a resident ghost!
I Won’t Be Held Liable for Issues I Didn’t Know About
Ignorance is not considered an excuse for failing to meet disclosure laws. A buyer can sue after escrow closes, for issues you were unaware of. To prevent this situation, inspect your property inside and out with your realtor, noting anything that could raise a red flag. Check out possible problems thoroughly. And disclose everything you think a buyer would want to know. When in doubt, disclose.
If I Sell My Home “As Is” I Don’t Have to Worry about Disclosure Laws
Selling your home “as is” simply means everyone agrees that the home will transfer ownership in its current state. The seller will make no repairs. However, as the seller you’re legally obligated to tell the buyer about any repairs that will be needed.
Your listing agent will provide the forms and information you need to put together a disclosure packet that protects you and satisfies the buyer. The couple of hours you invest in the process will give you peace of mind.
Are you wondering what to reveal about your property? We’re here to help! Call us at (831)818-4321, or contact us here.