What is a Seller’s Disclosure?
In Texas, providing a Seller’s Disclosure of property condition to a buyer is a legal statutory requirement for the sale of pre-owned single family homes.
The purpose of the Seller’s Disclosure is to make it clear what appliances, equipment, and features exist on the property; whether or not these items are working; if the seller knows of any defects or malfunctions in critical systems; if certain red-flag events like termite treatment, previous fires, foundation repair, or flooding have occurred; the need for repairs; and the existence of un-permitted additions, unpaid HOA fees, violations of deed restrictions, lawsuits, or conditions that “materially affect the health or safety of an individual.
Both Seller and Buyer are protected by the Sellers Disclosure. The Buyer is aware of these things and the Seller is protected from any future liability if a defect is discovered and was disclosed.
Willfully concealing property defects is engaging in criminal fraudulent inducement. Also both parties must understand a defect that has been repaired is no longer a defect. Some level of judgement applies to revealing past repairs that might be perceived as an indication of future required repairs. Notably fire, wood destroying insects, foundation, and underground plumbing repairs fall in this category.
Understand there is no such thing as “sold as-is” to minimize the duty to disclose. Whether the seller has lived in the home or not a Seller’s Disclosure must be provided. There are exceptions for financial institutions, new construction, and multi-family homes such as duplexes.
For Buyers, a Seller’s Disclosure does not preclude the need for a thorough inspection and can provide guidance of items of inspection that need more attention.
For Sellers, a Seller’s Disclosure is not only a form of legal protection it is a selling document as well. Use it to show when critical systems have been replaced and highlight the quality of the replacement item and existing warranties.
This video from the MetroTex Association of Realtors® helps explain why and how to use the Seller’s Disclosure form. There are different versions of the form each with at least the legal minimum required disclosures.
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