Demystifying the Disclosure Process
The process of disclosure can be confusing. Often, different agents will tell you different things that need to be included. Be sure to know all of the federal and state disclosure laws when selling your home. Laws covering many issues like death on the property, to lead paint can be mystifying and hard to navigate. If you have any issues compiling your disclosures, be sure to consult with a real estate attorney who will be able to guide you through the process with the unique knowledge of California's disclosure laws.
Generally, a disclosure should point out anything that lowers the perceived value of the property being sold. Anything that would potentially affect a buyer's choice to buy, pricing or terms should absolutely be clearly disclosed including the following:
- Natural hazards
- Flood plains
- Zoning changes
- Pollution – noise, air, ground and water
- Fire hazards
Many states have disclosures that relate directly to the area. Here are some California region specific disclosures:
Special Disclosure Situations are as follows:
- Any registered sex offenders in the area
- Dangerous dogs in the neighborhood (i.e., pit bulls)
- Real or perceived paranormal activity as a haunted property
- Death on the property, especially if caused by intentional violence. (In some states, you are required to disclose if someone died on the property within the last three years.)
Disclosure forms are to be filled out by yourself at the proper time in the selling process. In some cases, an agent may offer to write the disclosure for you, but in reality, this is your responsibility.
- Answer all questions to the best of your ability.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff, but make sure you disclose everything that you’d want disclosed to you if you were the buyer.
- Answer “Do Not Know" to questions you don't have the answer to, however do not over use this and try to have accurate facts about defects so as not to raise red flags.
By using honesty, fairness and common sense your disclosure will come out perfectly. For more help with your California disclosure please reference the Disclosures in Real Property Transactions PDF from the CalBRE Website