What Sellers Should Tell Buyers

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted. Life took over and now blogging has moved back up on the priority scale.

I’ve been taking a series of real estate classes this month and the best one was on our REALTOR® Code of Ethics and Contracts. One of the issues we talked about was what sellers should tell buyers.

Maryland law says that sellers must divulge “material facts”. This is loosely defined as anything that isn’t readily apparent about the property that could, if known, cause the buyer to make a different decision. For instance, if you the seller know that there is a substantial structural crack in the basement (behind all the boxes that have been stacked there), then the you should disclose the existence of that crack to potential buyers. If the crack is out in the open, for all to see, then there is no need to disclose it.

However, I learned a new twist that makes lots of sense to me — disclose whatever the neighbors are going to talk about after settlement. Here’s the example: Buyer moves in and the plumbing backs up. Buyer calls the plumber and, while the truck is in the driveway, the neighbor saunters over and says, “I was wondering how long it would take for the plumber to show up! The old owners had a plumber here at least once a month!”.

So do the right thing — disclose the true condition of the property. It’s better to lose a buyer now than to have a huge lawsuit later.

© 2006 Susan Pruden.

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