Selling Your Home? Here Are Four Things You May Be Legally Required To Disclose

Does your home have a few dirty little secrets? Maybe you thought you'd keep them to yourself because otherwise you might not be able to find a buyer. That's not such a good idea, and in fact, it can even be criminal. Below are four things that must be disclosed to potential home buyers.

Disclosure #1: Damages You're Aware Of

While the extent to which you must disclose will depend on your state, most states require that sellers inform buyers about any issues with the home that the seller knows about. Mold, mildew, damage caused by pests, etc. must all be disclosed if the seller knows they exist. Failure to do so could result in a major financial loss.

While not required, you may want to hire an inspector to go over your home and come up with a detailed list of problems. While this may bring some new things to light that you now must disclose, it can also keep you safe in the future if the new owners claim a damage that wasn't there before. Without proof, you may have to cover the cost of fixing the issue.

Disclosure #2: Death in the Home

Similar to damages, the fatal circumstances that require disclosure will depend on the state in which the home is located. California, for example, only requires disclosure of deaths that occurred within the past three years.

Other considerations that will affect whether the death needs to be disclosed or not are the circumstances. Was the death a result of the home's infrastructure? If so, even if the problem has since been resolved, you'll almost certainly need to disclose.

Disclosure #3: Lead Paint

If your home was built before 1978, you're required to disclose to the buyers that there is a good chance the home contains lead paint within it. As the seller, you must provide them with an EPA-approved pamphlet, Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home, and provide them with a 10-day period in which to perform a paint inspection. The buyers can waive the inspection. This is a federal regulation that must be followed.

Disclosure #4: Risks of Environmental Disasters

If the home you're selling is in an area prone to natural disasters, your state may require you to inform potential buyers of this. While most buyers will have done thorough research on the area, it's still important to point out the environmental dangers and the extent to which they could affect the home.

If you live in an area prone to flash floods, for example, it's important that you mention this, as well as any damage the home obtained as a result of them, such as water damage.

If you're selling your home with the help of a real estate agent, it's still a good idea to do your own research on required disclosures. If your home is for sale by owner, contact a real estate lawyer. They will be able to clearly outline the responsibilities you have in your state as a seller. Failure to improperly disclose could make the contract void and could even lead to a court battle. For more information, contact a firm such as Schulze Howard & Cox.