Real Estate Disclosure: What’s Involved?

Posted on: September 10, 2013

Most states have put laws into place to protect buyers throughout the home buying process. One of the most important sets of laws deals with what a seller or a seller’s agent is required to tell you during the process. Disclosure laws are designed to prevent you from being taken advantage of by sellers, but they might not be as thorough as you believe. Here’s what you need to know about disclosure and what is involved:


Real Estate Agents: Seller’s Agent Disclosure

Most states have laws requiring a seller’s agent to point out to you that they’re working for the seller. When an agent is working for the seller, that agent’s job is to represent the seller’s interests. They’ll try to get the best deal for the seller, and may not be fully forthcoming to you as a buyer because their goal is to get the sale for the seller. This is why it’s important for you as a buyer to work with a buyer’s agent, or at least to be discrete about what you tell the seller’s agent – i.e. never tell them how much money you’re willing to spend!


Some states have laws regarding dual agency. In a dual agency state, a real estate agent – or someone else in the firm – can represent both the buyer and the seller. Find out if your state is a dual agency state, and what your rights are if you work with a dual agent.


Home Sellers: Required Disclosures

There are certain things that home sellers are required to disclose to potential buyers. For example, there’s a federal law that requires sellers to disclose to buyers if any lead paint has been used in the home. More specific disclosures vary from state to state, but in general, sellers are required to disclose anything that could affect the property’s value or desirability.


If sellers don’t disclose an important piece of info governed by the state’s disclosure laws, and a buyer finds himself out a ton of money to fix the issue, the buyer could pursue legal action against the seller for failure to disclose the issue. Check with a knowledgeable real estate agent to find out what sellers are required to disclose in your state.


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