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Everyone knows that selling a home involves lots of paperwork and each year the amount required or recommended seems to continue to grow – but what do you know about seller disclosures?  Dozens of pages and signatures and what seems like hundreds of questions now delve into every aspect of home ownership. Buyer beware has been replaced by seller beware of what you say or don’t say.  It’s not just “Does the roof leak?” or “Do you have permits for that addition?” or “Is anything broken?”

Many home sellers are surprised to see open-ended questions pop up that they have to answer covering issues regarding repairs or events barely remembered from years or decades before.  It seems crazy to have to explain what happened during the time before you bought your home or even before the home was built. Here are some of the questions that most often have a home seller saying “I have to disclose all of that?” Are you aware of these necessary seller disclosures?

  1. Any alterations, modification, remodeling, replacements or material repairs on the property.
  2. The release of an illegal or controlled substance on or beneath the property.
  3. An order from a government health official identifying the property as being contaminated by methamphetamine.
  4. Any renovations of lead based paint surfaces completed in compliance with the EPA lead base paint renovation rule.
  5. Past or present odors, urine, feces, discoloration, stains, spots or damage from pets.
  6. Diseases or infestations affecting trees, plants or vegetation on or near the property.
  7. Any occupant of the Property smoking on or in the Property.
  8. Fill (compacted or otherwise) on the property or any portion thereof.
  9. Financial relief or assistance or settlement, sought or received by past or present owners of the Property, due to any actual or alleged damage.

It is often said that you should disclose anything that you would want to know if you were buying a home.  When the question comes up “do I need to disclose…”, the best answer is almost always yes. Many of the disclosures are used throughout the state and are provided by the California Association of Realtors. The state of California is very specific about certain things that need to be disclosed, and the majority of lawsuits involve a home buyer suing the home seller, with lack of disclosure often cited.

This guest post was written by First Team Real Estate Agent Jim Salem. Jim has been working with First Team consulting residential real estate buyers and sellers since 1991. Currently Jim works out of the Anaheim Hills branch office.