D is for disclosures

“D” is for Disclosures

In Buyers, First-Time Buyers, Homeowners, Real Estate Advice by Doug Phelps

This post is part of an ongoing series, “ABC’s of Real Estate.” Stay tuned for more posts as I run through the a-z of real estate and provide helpful tips for home buyers and sellers alike.

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If you have any experience with buying or selling a home, the word “disclosures” might come with a certain level of worry. But home disclosures are in place to protect all parties involved and aren’t as scary as they sound.

What are disclosures?

Home disclosures include any potential problems that could affect the value of the property. Sellers provide buyers a property disclosure statement that includes anything that might adversely affect the value of the property.

Colorado disclosure law requires sellers to disclose the following:

  • Whether the property may be in a special taxing district
  • Whether a buyer will be required to become part of an HOA or other community and pay fees
  • If the home has ever been used a meth lab
  • If the water in the home is drinkable
  • If there are any transportation projects that might affect the home

Additionally, federal law requires you to make a lead paint disclosure on homes built prior to 1978.

Further, the Colorado Real Estate Commission has created a standard property disclosure form that addresses things like structural and roof damage, electrical issues, sewer and water issues, environmental concerns and an array of other options.

The property disclosure statement is usually provided after a seller’s offer has been accepted.

Disclosures from the seller perspective

As the seller, you might feel like you have to go looking for every little problem in your house for fear of missing something and getting into trouble later on. But keep in mind that sellers are only required to make house disclosures for problems they have current actual knowledge about.

It is advisable to hire an inspector to help you disclose important items. That way, if a buyer came back to you on something you didn’t disclose, you’d have the inspection report showing that you were unaware of the problem.

It’s also important to note that while you have to disclose items, you do not necessarily repair them. Just keep in mind that the issues in your disclosures could affect the valuation of your property. In this case, it may be worth it to make fixes where appropriate.

Your real estate agent can help you determine exactly what to disclose.

Disclosures from the buyer perspective

As the buyer, the house disclosure document is a chance to learn about the history of your new home and the previous owners’ experience with it. The seller may disclose a wide variety of potential problems that could be issues for you as the future homeowner.

Many sellers will disclose any improvements or renovations they have been made to the house. By cross-checking the seller’s disclosures with the city building permit and zoning reports, you might be able to discover whether or not any of the work done in your new home occurred without a permit.

It is important to note that in Colorado, a buyer acknowledges that a seller conveys a property to a buyer in an “As Is” condition, “Where Is” and “With All Faults.” Your real estate agent can help you to determine the severity of anything disclosed.