Disclosure important during
By Louise Bolger
SUN STAFF WRITER
Selling real estate can be like playing
a game of chess. There are some things that you must disclose
and some that you have no mandate to disclose. And then theres
that fuzzy area in between where good judgment and just plain
common sense should take over.
The state of Florida has very specific disclosure laws when
it comes to selling residential property. Sellers must provide
a sellers disclosure statement to buyers of their property.
The form is signed and dated by the buyer or buyers and becomes
part of the permanent record of the transaction.
The sellers disclosure is designed to disclose to a
buyer all known facts that materially and adversely affect
the value of the property that are not readily observable.
The disclosure is the sellers knowledge of the condition
of the property as of the date signed by the seller. It is
not the intention of the state to use this disclosure as a
substitute for an inspection of the property.
Some of the questions and information on the disclosure form
are as follows:
Is the seller aware of land fill, earth movement, settling,
etc.? Is the property in an earthquake or flood zone? Are
there drainage problems? Are there encroachments or boundary
What is the age of roof and has it ever leaked or had repairs?
Does the seller have knowledge of active or past damage to
the property by termites, dry rot or pests?
Are you aware of any movement, shifting, deterioration or
other problems with walls or foundation? Is there a crawl
space and sump pump?
Are there any additions or structural changes and were necessary
permits and approvals obtained?
Is drinking water public or well? What is the type of sewage
system, and the date when it was last serviced? Have there
been leaks or backups?
What type of air conditioning and heat system is used? Are
there problems with the electrical system? List the condition
of equipment and appliances.
Are you aware of any proposed changes to your neighborhood
that could affect the desirability of your property? Are there
underground tanks or toxic substances present on the property?
Condominiums and homeowners associations must also disclose
any problems associated with the common areas, potential increases
in assessments or fees and existing or threatened legal action.
By now youre probably thinking, Whats left
not to disclose? You dont have to disclose your
reason or motivation for moving and neither should your real
estate broker without your permission. If a buyer perceives
a strong motivation to sell or a hardship it could be a negative
influence on the negotiating process. If one of the reasons
youre selling is because the house next door just sold
to buyers who plan on renting it, you have no obligation to
disclose this fact. A rental property is not considered a
nuisance. However, if the buyer asks if there are any nearby
rental properties, then you must disclose.
Most sellers are honest and try to do the right thing, and
most buyers will try to honestly negotiate. But moving around
the chess board of real estate is tricky, so choose your moves
carefully, be honest and stay out of the fuzzy zone.