The dreaded seller’s disclosure – it’s that pesky document that asks you umpteen questions. How many ceiling fans are in the property, what’s the make and model of each appliance, how old is the roof, A/C system and so forth. Really? Do you have to answer these questions and all of them? Well if you are selling your house, the answer is YES and you must answer to the best of your knowledge.
The seller’s disclosure is one of THE most important documents that a buyer closely scrutinizes prior to going under contract. If there are any blank questions or ambiguities, you are likely going to be asked for further clarification and it could delay or prevent a buyer from moving forward.
Here are 5 tips to help you overcome “disclosaphobia” and complete this document with ease:
1. Do Your Research
If you purchased your home within the recent past and had a home inspection, that document can be a useful reference as to the make, model and age of certain components in your home such as the A/C system, water heater, etc. Keep in mind that if you have replaced any of these items, then you will need to complete the disclosure reflective of that information.
2. Be Accurate
If you had a four point inspection for insurance purposes at the time of purchase, that could tell you the age and type of key components such as the roof, plumbing and electrical. Use this to help determine the present age when you are completing the disclosure.
3. Be Honest
Answer every question to the best of your knowledge. If there was something that happened such as a roof leak or water damage for example, provide as much information as possible. Buyers want to know when the issue occurred, the nature of the damage and what was done to repair or address the issue. If an insurance claim was filed, be sure to note that and what the outcome was as far as coverage. The claim could very well turn up when the new buyer works on obtaining insurance – better for the buyer to learn about it from the disclosure first. Attach any relevant paperwork as well such as receipts or invoices. Buyers need assurance that all adds up. Surprise is never a good thing in real estate.
4. Be Clear
Don’t leave a buyer guessing. Avoid vague answers or leaving questions blank. That only raises more questions for a buyer. If you don’t know or the question is not applicable to your kind of property, note that.
5. Set Expectations
The biggest challenge for disclosures arises when the party selling the property has never occupied it or only lived in it for a brief period of time. Be sure to clearly state what your occupancy situation was and to what extent if any, you have knowledge about the property. Setting proper expectations upfront in this regard with potential buyers is important.
If necessary, attach an additional explanation for anything that requires more information than what the form provides. Make sure all information is legible and will transmit clearly across a variety of mediums when printed, emailed, scanned or faxed.
In short, be thorough and provide information to the buyer that will give them confidence in their decision. Contrary to popular belief, buyers are not frustrated with too much disclosure, but rather not enough.