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• Feb. 24, 2009 - Do I HAVE to disclose my house issues?

Hello all!

I hope this finds you all doing well! Well, I will get right to the point today...FULL DISCLOSURE is a must when it comes to selling your house. But what exactly, does FULL DISCLOSURE mean?...

Well, technically, we don't have to disclose crappy neighbors as a reason for selling our house (or do we?!) BUT, as a seller, if you've had burst pipes in your home, or a leaky roof, walls that spontaneously opened up with new holes, or a basement that is actually a pool in the spring, EVEN IF YOU HAVE TAKEN STEPS to repair these, should be disclosed when you sell the property. Also, if you've made updates, upgrades or major improvements to the property, it is best to disclose these as well.

When you list your home, your listing agent should have a seller's disclosure for you to fill out--whether you've lived in the home or not, I'm sure you would be aware of any issues in which you had to fix--so disclose them. Why? To avoid future litigation issues.

I'll tell you of close friends that bought a house with a finished basement--the sellers had finished the basement and claimed everything was up to code. After the closing AND beginning work to modify the basement in to an apartment, they found that permits were never pulled for the upgrade work already done, and the plumbing was too close to the walls according to the local codes. The sellers claimed they didn't do that work--so it turned in to a "he said, she said" thing because nothing was in writing. Then when my friends started pulling down drywall as they ensured everything was up to code, found the drywall stamped with the year it was made...which proved the sellers had done the work--and not up to code. The sellers then had to pay to bring things up to the CURRENT code requirements.

Could this have been prevented? Maybe--they did get a home inspection, but the inspector didn't identify that these could be code violations, or an issue. Was it his responsibility? That depends on the state requirements for his licencing and what he is responsible for. In this case, he was not.

The sellers could have prevented the ENTIRE issue, though, prior to selling, by pulling the required permits before getting the work done and getting the required inspections to ensure they were up to code. It would have saved everyone a LOT of heartache.

In another instance, I had a buyer ready to buy a house, really liked the outside and the yard and called me to view the inside. When I called the listing agent to show the home, she informed me that the seller had built a garage on to the house without getting the required permits pulled...and as it turned out, he built his new garage on his neighbors property. As soon as my buyer heard about this, they didn't want to even deal with someone that couldn't follow the rules. I didn't follow up on the house, but that sellers options at the time were to take down the garage (lowering the value of his property), request a variance in the building--not easy to get when no permit was pulled to begin with, or buy the land from his neighbor. This seller could have prevented issues by pulling required permits.

SO--do you HAVE to disclose changes, or issues when it comes to selling your home? Well, gee, Wally, I guess you don't HAVE to, but golly, would it be the right thing to do? Wouldja really went to deal with all the potential litigation and lose any profits you might have gotten from selling the house?

But what about those crappy neighbors? Well--maybe they'll talk their friends (if they have any, that is) in to buying the house and they can live next door in harmony!

Until next time!

Valerie Sullivan
Realtor, GRI, e-Pro
Valerie@ValerieSullivan.net
www.ValerieSullivan.net

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