There are so many things to disclose when selling your house, making selling your home difficult even if in the best of times. There are many difficulties that can arise in a home sale, so in order to get a good price it’s no surprise that sellers want to make their property look as good as possible. In California, there are strict rules about what facts you have to disclose to the buyers of your home. Failing to reveal facts about your house could expose you to a non-disclosure law suit. The lawyers at Schorr Law are here to help you solve and avoid these problems, so please keep reading for some of the top things to disclose when selling your house.
Five Things to Disclose When Selling Your House
1. THE FORM. Every person who sells real estate in California must complete and provide the buyer with a required form. This form is commonly called the “Transfer Disclosure Statement.” When filling out the disclosure statement you will tell your buyer all sorts of information about the property: the age of the roof, whether the property is attached to public sewer system, or even if there are noise problems in the neighborhood. It is important to fill your form out truthfully and completely or you might find yourself being sued by an angry buyer who belatedly discovers that sticky garage door you never got around to fixing.
2. PROPERTY TAXES: When you sell a home in California the local assessor will reassess its value and the taxes on the property will change. As a result, you do not have to tell your buyer what you are paying in taxes at the time of the purchase. However, you do have to provide the buyer with a document that includes particular language telling them that they may be subject to a supplemental tax assessment. The requirements for the disclosure are set out in the California Civil Code Section 1102.6c.
3. TOXIC SUBSTANCES: Filling out the Transfer Disclosure Statement is not the end of your obligation to disclose things to your buyer. You are also required to tell the buyers about any material defect that could harm the value of the property that is not readily apparent to the buyer. That means that if you know about a harmful substance in your house such as lead paint or asbestos you have to disclose it. Some of these substances require particular disclosures in order to comply with the law, so be sure to check with your realtor to make certain you are in compliance.
4. DEATH AT THE PROPERTY. In California, sellers must tell the buyer if a death in the home has occurred anytime in the past three years. This includes death by most natural causes (certain types of deaths, like those from AIDS, cannot be disclosed). If a buyer comes out and asks about a death that occurred at any time, even longer than three years ago, the seller is required to provide a truthful response.
5. THE WATER HEATER STRAP. California has earthquakes, and a surprising amount of damage can be done by a water heater tipping over when the ground shakes. Electrical shorts can start fires, hot water can damage your property, and even the falling tank itself can cause damage. As a result, any seller of real estate that contains a water heater must certify to the buyer that the water heater has been braced, anchored or strapped to resist falling due to earthquake motion. The certification is often part of the Purchase and Sale Agreement or the Homeowner’s Guide to Earthquake Safety that your realtor should provide to the buyer.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of seller’s disclosure obligations – there are many more items that a seller must disclose that are not covered in this summary blog post. Buying or selling property in Los Angeles, California can be a tricky business. If you are having problems because someone has failed to disclose something during a purchase, give Schorr Law a call. We are experienced real estate attorneys who can help you find a solution to your problems.
By Andrew Benard, esq.