Friday, October 30, 2015

Will Your House... Haunt You?

It's Halloween and this week I would like to discuss the scariest part of real estate. 

The fear of the unknown.

Buying or selling a house is the bigget deal most people make in their lifetime. It can be very stressful - even when everything goes right. In real estate, everyone knows that honesty is the best policy.

Some people think that covering up a problem like a leak with a fresh coat of paint is a good way to show that the property is in good condition. If the leak was fixed, that may be enough to finish the job. Unfortunately sometimes there are unresolved issues that people try to hide.

Disclosures have become a very important part of any real estate transaction for that very reason.

What is a disclosure, you ask?

A Disclosure is the seller’s opportunity to be open about any issues with the property.

Types Of Issues

There are several types of issues that a seller should mention to potential buyers.

These can be something inside the house, like an existing problem, a re-occurring problem, or even a problem that has been fixed. 

The most common type of disclosure deals with physical issues related to structure, water or electricity. 

Sellers may also want to describe any renovations or upgrades that have been done. This is especially true for any un-permitted work.

The seller may wish to be transparent about any issues outside of the house as well. 

If there are noise issues from neighbors or a passing train, a smart seller will be open about it. 

If there are any disputes between immediate neighbors, it may be wise to note it.

The same is true for any major issue that could diminish the quality of life, for example if a neighboring property had been used for commercial purposes in the recent past. 

I have seen several condo projects built on sites that were former gas stations. As a buyer, I would definitely want to know about any possible subterranean fuel leaks and soil contamination!

Other disclosures may involve financial issues. The seller should disclose if they recently or will declare bankruptcy. The same would be prudent if there are any liens on the property.

The last major category relates to crime or death in the house. If there were any criminal activities on the property, such as drug dealing or manufacturing, it would be very difficult to hide the traces. Even if the property was scrubbed, chances are the owner would eventually find out from neighbors – or unwelcome visitors.

In the case of murder or even accidental death from illness or old age, a seller must disclose these events, especially if they happened within the last three years. 

Surprisingly, it is also important to disclose any suspicion of haunting!

The Logic

I must be crazy to describe problems with my house!

Why on earth would a seller want to say anything negative about their property? Wouldn’t that make it harder to sell???

If a seller is open about issues, then an interested buyer has the choice as to whether to continue with the offer. Buy telling them up front, all parties avoid the awkward situation of having the issue turn up during the inspection. 

If the issue may cause a buyer to back out, then it is probably best to save everyone’s time and move on to the next interested party.

If the seller is aware of the problem beforehand, the issue may not matter to them. On the other hand, if there is something that was not disclosed and is discovered during the inspection process, then the seller may assume the buyer is not honest about other things as well.

Some sellers think they can gamble, and that the seller or their inspector may not find the issue. While this is possible, it still leaves the seller open to a law suit later on if it is discovered they knew about the situation. Buyers usually have up to ten years to file a lawsuit.

What They Are

There are standard documents available where the owner may check off typical issues by answering Yes or No questions. In addition, sellers may usually add anything that is not mentioned on the forms.

It is important to note that these are legal documents and that every effort should be made to fill them out the best of the seller’s ability. These documents may be used in court.

How It’s Done

A seller may offer this document to any potential buyer. In most cases, the buyer receives the document once an offer has been made.

It is very important for the seller to have the buyer’s signed acknowledgement and to keep this document for as long as the state laws require.

When selling a house, it is always a good idea to make a clean break. By disclosing any known issues a seller can move on with their life without worrying about a potential lawsuit. Don't be haunted by a house you SOLD!!!

If you are putting your home on the market yourself, describing disclosures may be a very stressful time.  In addition, if selling during the holidays isn't something you wish to consider right now, we can help.

If you have come to the realization that it is time to move right now to have a better life, but your house isn’t ready for market, we can help. 

If you are juggling too many responsibilities to sell your house yourself this fall, then there are people who specialize in the sale of properties "as is" - usually within a week to resolve the situation quickly. 

Contact us for details.

Next time we will look at small spaces.

So thanks for reading my post. I'm so glad you're here! 

And I really look forward to getting into more great stuff in future posts -- so that you can 

Turn Your House To $OLD!

Feel free to ask me any questions through the contact info below. I would be very happy to help.

Linda  623-335-2662

Article Sources:

Lynda Bathory