A common question that we receive from clients is whether or not they need to fill out a seller’s disclosure form for the property they are selling. The answer to this question is that the form does not technically need to be filled out, however we strongly advise doing so. For starters, it should be noted that most state disclosure requirements provide that sellers must inform buyers of defects that the seller knows about. In Florida, a seller’s disclosure form is not technically required however Florida law does require seller’s and their real estate agent’s to disclose any significant property defects that may not be easily apparent to the buyer. To make this process easier for seller’s in Florida, the Florida Association of Realtors has created a “Seller’s Property Disclosure Form“, although there is no statutory requirement to use this form.
What are material defects?
Material defects are issues with a property that would likely impact the value, health, safety, and costs associated with a property. As mentioned above, these defects are typically not apparent to the home buyer and could result in significant costs and safety risks. Some common examples of material defects could be faulty electrical wiring, a crack in the home’s foundation, a roof leak, or a failing sewer line underneath the home. Although some of these items could potentially be discovered during a home inspection, oftentimes they are not. For example, a slight roof leak may only be apparent if it has rained recently. Furthermore, plumbing may appear to be functioning correctly during the inspection but it is not until it is truly being used by a family that issues arise.
Disclose, disclose, disclose
As a best practice, we recommend that sellers disclose all items that they are aware of with a home. This should also apply to items that may have been addressed and repaired already. For example, perhaps there was a roof leak last summer but you hired a roofing contractor to repair the roof. Although it is no longer leaking, it is important to document this repair in your disclosure. Furthermore, we also recommend utilizing the Seller’s Property Disclosure Form and filling it in as completely as possible. Ultimately, as a seller, you want to ensure that you minimize any risk of a disgruntled buyer coming back to you with a lawsuit resulting in significant time, headache, and expense.
As with anything in life, honesty is the best policy when it comes to selling your home. A common trap that sellers oftentimes fall into is that they believe if they disclose defects in the home, the buyer will cancel the contract. Although this is always a possibility, typically we see these items negotiated during the inspection process. Not to mention, fully disclosing all items in an honest manner will give the seller a peace of mind moving forward in the transaction.
Are you looking to buy or sell property in South Florida? We can help! Contact Natasha at Live South Florida Realty, Inc. today! Don’t forget to download our free Florida Home Search app for your mobile device as well.