The Importance of Residential Property Disclosure Forms

A Residential Property Disclosure Form is a statement of the conditions concerning the property that are known by the seller. This document is intended to provide the buyer with a list of potential problems and defects that may affect the property. This form, however, is not a substitution for inspections. The seller is required, by law, to go through this form and disclose any such issues they have knowledge of. These issues range from wood destroying insects to zoning code violations.

Whether you are purchasing or selling a property, this document is one that you will want filled out accurately. It is in the buyer’s best interest to be aware of any issues with the property prior to purchase. Similarly, it is in the seller’s best interest to disclose any issues with the property to avoid any claims against them by the buyer.

As the purchaser you want to be aware of any defects with the property prior to purchasing, that is why inspections are so helpful. The Disclosure Form states that: “THIS FORM IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR ANY INSPECTIONS. POTENTIAL PURCHASERS ARE ENCOURAGED TO OBTAIN THEIR OWN PROFESSIONAL INSPECTION(S).”

Think of this disclosure as extra protection. Suppose the sellers mark on this form that there are no zoning violations on the property. If you later move in and get notice of such a violation you may be able to hold the seller responsible to fix the violation. Had the seller marked on the form that there was a violation, they may not be responsible to you because they gave you notice. If the seller did not disclose the violation you could have to opportunity to seek remedies prior to closing. Being aware of the problem prior to moving in allows you as the purchaser to decide how to handle things prior to moving in.

As the seller, it is in your best interest to disclose all that you know prior to sale. If you are dishonest on this form or misrepresent the condition to induce the buyer to purchase the property you could be liable for damages. If the buyer files suit against you, you want to have this form filled out accurately to protect you.

Whether purchasing or selling, a Residential Property Disclosure Form is a good resource to have by your side. Buyers should take the time to look over this form before closing. Take the time to review what the seller has disclosed to you and be cautious of these items. Sellers should double check the form for accuracy. Failing to disclose something could leave the seller at the end of a costly lawsuit that could have been avoided.

If you have any questions about Residential Property Disclosure Forms, contact our office to speak with any experienced attorney about your rights and obligations.