What is a Seller's Disclosure Form?
Whenever a homeowner decides to list and sell their property they will need to fill out a seller's disclosure form. This form will layout anything and everything that the homeowner or seller knows about the home as far as remodels, permits, damage, or additions. It informs the buyer of anything that they may not be aware of such as a leaky roof, damage to the foundation, or permitted or even unpermitted work. This form can be requested prior to an offer so that the buyer can understand a little bit more about the property without having to pay for a home inspection just yet.
What is the seller's disclosure form cover?
The seller's disclosure form requires the seller of any property to complete the form to the best of their knowledge stating whether or not the home is ever been sold before, if the seller has occupied the property if the sale is transferred from a governmental agency and other details on the title.
The seller is required to the best of their ability to answer honestly and truthfully. Buyers are given five days from the seller's delivery of the seller's disclosure form to revoke their offer by delivering buyers separate signed written statements to the seller disapproving of the statement. This can be avoided if the buyer chooses to waive the right prior to entering into a purchase and sale agreement.
The form asks the seller if they have legal right to sell the property if there are any easements or boundary agreements, encroachments or limitations of access, joint maintenance or governmental studies or anything that would affect the property in the hands of the new buyer. It discusses zoning violations, covenants, conditions, and restrictions with an HOA, and if there are any issues with springs or wells in the area. It discusses irrigation and outdoor sprinkler systems, sewage systems, insulation, the integrity of the structures such as smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, building permits, additions, remodels, roof leaks, and any systems and fixtures such as HVAC, water heater, and plumbing systems, certain appliances and of course, the basics such as lead paint and asbestos.
What if the seller doesn't know these answers?
Depending on the age of the home, the seller is probably not going to know everything about the home, especially if they are not the only owner over the life of the property. They have to answer to the best of their ability. If the home was built prior to 1978, chances are somewhere under all that paint is lead-based paint, but unless your children are chewing on paint chips, it shouldn't affect future homeowners. If the future homeowner decides to take out a popcorn ceiling, mess with the asbestos, or strip the walls, then there could be an issue but if the seller does not know for sure that there is asbestos or lead paint in the home, they cannot answer honestly and there is an option for that. Sellers can simply state that they don't know certain features about the home, which is perfectly legal.
What about death or hauntings?
Paranormal activity is actually a protected feature under the Oregon state law. This means that if the prior homeowner feels that their property was haunted, they don't have to disclose that to the future owner. However, if there were illegal activities such as a meth lab or other issues going on in the home, that must be disclosed.
All of these details can be clarified as well with the listing agent and seller prior to closing so it's important to ask any questions you may have about the property that the seller could potentially answer.
If you'd like to see a seller's disclosure form, feel free to let me know! If you have any questions I'd be happy to help answer them so you feel confident about your purchase and sale.