Homebuying 101: Real Estate Disclosures

When you’re ready to hit the open house trail, you should do more than just look at the online listing and tour the home in-person. You should also ask your agent for the real estate disclosures for the property.

Simply put, real estate disclosures provide homebuyers an opportunity to learn as much as possible about the property and the seller’s time in it. Sellers are required to document any current or past defects that they are aware of.

Why is Disclosure So Important?

Full disclosure provides the homebuyer with information that can influence if it really is a good fit for their needs and assist with price negotiations. They are also intended to provide protection for sellers by giving an opportunity to share items that could impact the current or future value of the property. Disclosures can range mold or pest issues, water damage, leaky windows, to remodeling work completed with or without a permit.

Common Hazards and Defects

Some of the more common disclosures include known material defects involving:

  • Lead-based paint (if built prior to 1978)
  • Termite, pest or mold issues
  • Structural defects (roof or foundation)
  • Sewer and plumbing issues
  • Natural hazards
  • Any other relevant house or neighborhood issues

How are Items Disclosed?

Disclosures are typically documented in writing, using a standard form issued by the state. This form is completed by the sellers and shared with prospective buyers. Buyers must review and then sign off on all disclosures and can ask questions if they would like additional information.

If you’re serious about putting an offer on the property, take time to review each of these disclosures and ask your real estate agent for clarification on any points that you don’t understand. It’s imperative to do so before submitting an offer so you know exactly what you might be walking into with your new home. Doing so will help you assess your offer price, but also be aware of any upcoming maintenance that might need to be conducted before or after you move in.

For more information on the home buying process and how you can be prepared, contact one of our experienced local home loan consultants.

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