Unless you’re selling a brand new home, no house is really perfect. No matter how fantastic we are at taking care of our home, normal wear and tear along with other issues will arise as time goes by.
It’s often tempting to sweep this issues under the rug when your house is on the market. However, homeowners are legally required to disclose known problems with their property.
But what classifies as a “known issue”? Does it include every little imperfection or issue found on your inspection report?
This is a gray area that varies from state-to-state. Learn more about what’s legally obligated and what’s up to your discretion below.
Do I Really Need to Provide an Inspection Report to Buyers?
Most real estate transactions require sellers to disclose known issues regarding the home prior to completing a transaction. Withholding important inspection concerns from potential buyers can lead to serious legal disputes later on down the road.
That’s why you need to be transparent about the condition of the home. It’s your legal duty as a seller to disclose this information, even if it means losing profit off of the sale.
For those new to selling real estate, here’s a sample inspection report that will give you a clear idea of what a residential inspection will cover. It evaluates the general structural integrity from foundation to roof, typically through a visual inspection.
When Is the Best Time to Do a Home Inspection?
Buyers can request an inspection prior to purchase. However, it’s wise to have your home inspected prior to putting it on the market. This can reveal problems you may not have known about before so you can fix them prior to putting your home on the market.
Fixing known issues may or may not improve your profit depending on what the cost is to remedy the issue versus your home’s market value. However, safety hazards are likely going to be requested before the home is sold, anyway, so it’s best to fix them ahead of time.
If you wait until a sale is being negotiated before you have your home inspected, a problem you were previously unaware of may put a halt to the real estate transaction.
Understanding What You’re Obligated to Disclose
You may be surprised to find what kind of details states require sellers to disclose, from simple roof leaks to suspected hauntings. Below are a few of the most common issues homeowners are expected to be 100% clear about prior to a sale:
Suspected Hauntings Within the Home or Deaths on the Property
Does the property your selling have instances of paranormal activity? How about a resident ghost, friendly or not? Whether you’re a firm believer in Casper or not, many states require suspicion of haunting be revealed to buyers prior to making the purchase.
Likewise, if anyone has ever died within the home or on the property whether peacefully or through some tragic act such as murder, you have to pipe up. Many state laws require this information to be disclosed to interested parties looking to buy the property.
Roofing Issues, Including Repair or Replacement Needs
There is nothing cheap about having to replace a roof. That’s why many states require you to be honest about any roof leaks or problems that may require a repair or a replacement.
Not doing so can not only disappoint your buyer but also create a dangerous home environment. The same goes for foundation cracks, sinking concerns, or signs of structural damage.
Use of Lead-Based Paint or Other Toxic Materials
If your home or property contains hazardous materials, such as:
- Lead Paint
- Urea Formaldehyde
You must report these to the buyer. Not doing so can endanger their health and goes against federal law. You also may be forced to make the buyer aware of certain local hazards, such as waste, toxic contaminants in the area or water, and even hazardous waste sites.
Water Damage Within the Home
Water damage may seem like an everyday problem and sometimes even a minor one. Yet any form of water damage you are aware of within the home should be disclosed to buyers ready to negotiate its purchase.
Never assume or cover up water damage. Even if the leak stops, it can facilitate the growth of toxic mold. Also, water damage that occurred in the past can leave behind unseen damage that compromises your home’s integrity.
Any Existing or Potential Title Issues
Titles aren’t something you ever want to be unsure about. At the end of the day, it defines who truly owns the property. If there are any legal issues regarding your title, such as the need for a third party or additional owners’ approval.
Be Clear About Noise Pollution
We often don’t think about noise being an important detail of our home. Yet if you live near a highway, airport, or noisy environment, it can heavily impact the buyer’s quality of life.
Always be honest about the noise level within the home and on the property. Some buyers won’t mind whereas others will find certain levels of noise to be a deal breaker.
However, they need to be the one to make that choice, not you.
Keep in mind disclosure laws vary from state-to-state. If you’re in doubt over what qualifies as a major defect, ask your realtor. He or she should be able to clarify what you’re obligated to share.
While some states only require verbal disclosure, we highly suggest you document any home defects. This can help protect you should a buyer challenge whether or not he or she was made aware of specific home issues prior to purchase.
Schedule a Residential Inspection for Your Home
Are you selling a house in Northeast Ohio? If so, get your inspection report through Class Home Inspection. We use an ASHI Associate Home Inspector to perform your inspection and provide an accurate and professional report at an affordable price.
Contact us today to schedule your residential inspection. We provide services to residents in Cleveland, Perry, Ashtabula, Conneaut, Madison, Geneva, Jefferson, Mentor, Andover, and Willoughby.