Sellers of real estate must disclose any material defect in the condition of the property. A material defect is anything that could effect the value or desirability of the property. Generally, you only must disclose facts that are within your knowledge, as there is no duty to inspect the property to discover unknown defects.
However, there are some problems you may be responsible for whether you know about it or not. If you are unsure of whether a defect must be disclosed, it is usually a good idea to go ahead and disclose it. It is illegal to fraudulently conceal major physical defects.
States are requring more and more disclosure upon sale, and every state has different "mandatory disclosure laws" which will dictate what must be disclosed. Additionally, most states have special disclosure forms the seller must complete and the buyer should acknowledge receipt of.
Common defects that must be disclosed include:
- Leaks in roofs or walls
- Existing mold or mildew
- Termite damage
- Plumbing problems
- Lead or asbestos
- Faulty equipment
- Neighborhood nuisances
Real estate transactions can be complex and laws vary from state to state. A real estate attorney can answer your questions and help you with the disclosure process. Additionally, an attorney can help guide you through the sale and protect you from liability.