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Avoiding Law Suits in Selling Your Home

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Once a property owner decides to sell their home they’ll have a lot on their hands with things to do before and during the sale. In preparations to sell they’ll need to clean, possibly perform some fix-ups or painting, conduct some inspections, and stage the home for tours, all of this will also be taking up their time. Looking for their new home and preparing to pack and re-locate will also be a time consumer.

Taking into account all of this a seller must also consider and allocate time for the preparation of a comprehensive disclosure statement and they should enlist the help of a professional real estate agent or lawyer.
Selling a property can be fraught with many hassles and consume a lot of the seller’s time and resources, especially with the markets favoring buyers in most areas across America. A seller should not let the frustrations associated with this scenario push them into making promises or statements regarding their for sale property that could come back to haunt them, and possibly put them in front of a judge.

Although a seller’s disclosure requirements may contrast from state to state they are required in most jurisdictions now and refer to what is commonly known as the disclosure of known material facts. A material fact is (1) one that might alter a person's decision to buy a property or change the terms and price a buyer is willing to accept; (2)a fact so important to a contract that withholding it would alter the terms of the contract or void it altogether, or (3)  information about a piece of property that could affect its salability and might change an individual's decision to purchase.

Sellers are advised to discuss their disclosure obligations with a qualified real estate lawyer or agent before they start to market and offer their property for sale because numerous claims filed against sellers are associated to disclosures that were not properly conveyed to the buyers before closing.

During the boom of the late ‘90s and early 2000s the housing market was a seller’s market, and buyers were in such a rush to purchase before a property was taken off the market or the price escalated, that many often overlooked the disclosure statements and were content to rush into the home they wanted. With the recent drop in home prices and market values, and more importantly the market shifting to the buyer’s advantage, many buyers are now looking very closely at the disclosure statements. Many are making claims against sellers who they feel were not totally above board in their sales discussions, on their websites, or in their brochures and disclosure statements.

California happens to be a state that has very strict rules regarding disclosures and they have mandated forms that sellers must use in order to provide buyers with thorough explanations of present and past issues of concern. Sellers should not look at the task of completing a disclosure statement as petty or bothersome because the lack of a good one can be a much bigger hassle and could cost them in the future should a claim be filed against them by the buyer.

Sellers should also take care when compiling their disclosure statement, and afterward they should have it reviewed by a professional real estate agent or their real estate attorney. While looking towards the future and the possibility of a case being filed against the seller, having a thorough and well written disclosure can influence favorably the judge’s opinion of the seller and their intent.

A seller’s agent or attorney should have samples of disclosures and reviewing these documents with a professional can help them to better understand the process and which aspects should be addressed. As sellers go about preparations for selling their property they need to keep a running list of any and all issues that may need to be disclosed. If a seller has to decide if a particular issue needs to be included, it probably does, and a professional can properly advise a home owner on these matters.

Many sellers are afraid that total disclosure of some facts could either lower the asking price or kill a sale altogether. This is a valid concern but if the issues are large they will not go away or be swept under the rug so it makes sense to get over that hurdle and be forthright with a disclosure statement. Sure, many prospects could walk away and never make an offer, but it is better than selling a home and having the problem come back to haunt the seller.


With most things in life and especially business, timing is of great importance. The proper time for a seller to present their disclosure statement and the associated inspection reports and surveys is before the buyer makes an offer. This way you minimize the chance that the buyers will try to renegotiate the contract price after they complete their inspections. Buyers value candid and comprehensive disclosures. If they don't have the advantage of reviewing this information before they make an offer that may cause them to withdraw after they’re in contract and they find out about the defects.

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