If you’re selling your home, a good realtor will make it look its best, inside and out, when they show it. You may not even recognize it when you see it on the local real estate websites! However, you know that some of those additional pieces of art they hung are covering up some cracks in the drywall, that the kitchen ceiling was repaired after an upstairs bathtub overflowed and that you have some roof damage from the last hurricane that you never got around to dealing with.
In short, you know there are flaws in your home. That’s to be expected. But which ones do you have to disclose to prospective buyers? All states have some type of seller disclosure form that home sellers need to fill out truthfully and completely. Here in Florida , It’s called the Seller’s Property Disclosure – Residential (SPDR) form. This is where sellers are required to list defects and other potential issues that can materially impact the value or livability of a home.
One Florida Supreme Court decision aptly described home sellers’ disclosure responsibilities this way: “[W]here the seller of a home knows of facts materially affecting the value of the property which are not readily observable and are not known to the buyer, the seller is under a duty to disclose them to the buyer.”
In addition to damage like we mentioned above, this can include things like the presence of radon, any pending code enforcement actions and even in some cases, the presence of endangered species on the land. In some states, sellers are required to disclose things that have occurred on the property, like homicides or suicides. In Florida , however, that’s not a requirement.
The best way to approach your SPDR is generally to be as complete and accurate as possible based on what you know, or should reasonably know, about your property. Your realtor can and should help you.
Some flaws aren’t the deal-killers you might fear they are. It’s better to be honest and have to knock some money off your asking price or make some repairs than to deal with a lawsuit later. If you are facing legal action from your home’s buyers or if you’re considering bringing a suit against the people who sold you your home, seek the guidance of an experienced real estate attorney.