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What is a Property Disclosure?

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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 22 September 2016
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A property disclosure is a document that is completed by the seller of a home, and given to a potential buyer before he or she makes a decision regarding purchasing the home. It is a legal requirement in most states, and may not be completed by the real estate agent, but must be completed and signed by the seller. A property disclosure is a method of protecting the seller from a lawsuit, and is a way to protect the buyer from unknowingly buying a house that requires hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs.

A property disclosure and the laws associated with it may vary in different states, such as laws surrounding the use of lead paint in a house. In general, however, buyers are responsible for disclosing everything they are aware of regarding the state of the house. The disclosure will typically provide the age of the roof and the foundation, as well as any installed systems in the house such as an air conditioning system or heating system. The age of the siding and the type should be disclosed as well.

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In addition to this basic information regarding the age of the items on the structure, it is the responsibility of the seller to disclose any additional relevant information in a property disclosure. For instance, if there are certain pipes that leak, the buyer should disclose this. If the basement is wet at any time during the year, this should be included. Any repairs that were done on the house should be listed as well.

In areas of the country where natural disasters are a concern, the buyer should include any damage that the house has sustained due to flooding, tornadoes, earthquakes, or other natural disasters. Some states may also require buyers to share information regarding noise or air pollution, such as if there is an airport nearby, or a power plant, for example. These are just a few of the potential questions that may be included on a property disclosure.

Another issue that should be included on a property disclosure is any deaths that occurred in the house. Some disclosures only require deaths that occurred in the past three years, while others go back further. When in doubt, it is generally always better to include any information on the disclosure to avoid any potential lawsuits in the future. A lawyer or realtor should be able to answer any questions regarding the property disclosure.

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