“When selling your home, it’s always best to be upfront and honest with potential buyers,” recommends Mary Lynn Stone, President of Century 21 New Millennium. “Disclosing information about the condition of your home is not only the honorable thing to do, but will also help prevent a lawsuit, unexpected price negotiations or cold feet on the buyer’s end at the last minute,” Stone continues. In many states, there are laws that require a seller to fill out a form disclosing material facts—such as a home condition, legal status or the age of certain components—prior to selling. “Even if your state doesn’t require a written disclosure, many real estate laws require sellers to disclose any problems or pertinent information about their property,” Stone adds.
So when it comes to disclosing facts about your home, what exactly counts as “pertinent information?” The types of problems or information that qualify as material can range from tax details—such as property taxes paid annually—to damage from mold, mildew or insects; issues with a septic system, a buried oil tank; a leak in the roof or foundation; or information about property boundaries. “A seller should also disclose the age of important features that will need maintenance, such as the roof,” explains Stone.
While your agent may not be responsible for disclosing material facts about your property to potential buyers, they can be held accountable if they had knowledge of a problem—like a leak or termite infestation—that they failed to make known or tried to hide. “Agents are not expected to take on the role of a home inspector,” says Stone. “However, an agent should use their best judgment and bring up anything that seems suspicious with both the seller and buyer,” Stone recommends.
“The seller is not obligated to tell a buyer why they are putting their home up for sale,” says Stone. “However, failure to disclose a large issue may complicate or delay the sale, frustrating all parties involved.” If there is a problem with your property, it is a good idea to either get it fixed prior to sale or lower your asking price to cover any necessary renovations.
CENTURY 21 New Millennium. Smarter. Bolder. Faster.
CENTURY 21 New Millennium, www.c21nm.com, is a full service real estate brokerage company specializing in residential and luxury properties. The Virginia locations are in Alexandria, Centreville, Culpeper, Fredericksburg, Gainesville, McLean, Stafford, and Woodbridge. The Maryland offices are located in Annapolis, Dunkirk, La Plata, Lexington Park and Lusby. Its core services include: mortgage financing, investing, settlement services, property management, property insurance, global relocation assistance, and commercial real estate.