“Full Disclosure” When You Sell Your Home Means You Need To Disclose Every Single Thing

The time has come to sell your home–you have a million details to think about. But before any transaction can be finalized, take note: California law requires you to provide full disclosure of anything and everything in your house or on your property that is not in working order. This is serious business and it includes:

  • Any physical defects in the fixtures, appliances, or features of the property;
  • Structural or site hazards, noncompliance with building codes or permits, and any environmental hazards;
  • Any issues of concern in the surrounding neighborhood; and
  • Any factor that would prevent the buyer from using or simply enjoying the property

California is clear about liability laws

If you fail to reveal an issue or defect which could impact the desirability or value of  the property, there are consequences. California law is quite specific about this—you and your real estate agent could run right into liability issues. In fact, your failure to disclose material information concerning real estate is considered fraud and carries with it a three-year statute of limitations.  This means the buyers have three years to sue you if you failed to fully disclose issues or defects in your home before you sold it.

Sellers are legally responsible to buyers

In California, a seller cannot just list a property ‘as-is’ and be done with it. The seller must provide the buyers with a Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement (TDS). If the TDS is not presented to the buyer before transaction closes, the buyer has a legal right and three days to cancel the real estate contract to buy your home.

Brutal honesty is required. Be thorough. Have you forgotten about previous damage to your home that has already been repaired? To be safe and to avoid any allegations of misrepresentation, deceit, or fraud, you must disclose everything, past and present, from cracks in the foundations and plumbing problems to appliances that are not fully functioning. Other important disclosures include:

  • Any additions or improvements made to the home;
  • Mold and mildew problems;
  • Neighborhood noise or consistent odor; and
  • A death on the property within three previous years

Take the time to read the rules:

This link will take you to a booklet which explains disclosure requirements in California. It is written specifically for individuals who will be involved with a real property transaction—homeowners and agents. A form is included to help you identify what disclosures are required in selling your home . As a final note, referenced codes and regulations are subject to change—make sure you are relying on the most current information.

Know Your Rights. Protect Yourself.

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Mary Catherine Wiederhold

Real Estate Attorney
1458 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA 94109

Mary Catherine Wiederhold
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