What Is A Seller's Disclosure (And Why It’s Important)

If you’re looking to buy a new house, be prepared to handle a lot of paperwork. One piece of paperwork that’s particularly important is the seller's disclosure statement. It advises you of any potential issues with the home before you make the big move.

So what is a seller disclosure? And why is it so important? Read on to find out in our detailed guide to real estate disclosure.

What is A Seller's Disclosure?

A seller’s disclosure statement is a set of documents completed by the seller of a house, mentioning any identified issues with the property and any major renovation done during the time they owned the house. In most states, the seller has to provide this property disclosure within a few days of mutual acceptance. In turn, the purchaser has a specific number of days to appraise the house disclosure.

Generally, potential purchasers can ask their real estate agent for access to the seller's property disclosure before making an offer. But, when purchasing bank-owned houses, purchasers will not receive any disclosure statement because the bank doesn’t have to provide details about the condition of the house.

Why Do You Need A Seller's Disclosure?

The basic idea behind a seller disclosure form is to protect buyers from purchasing a property with undisclosed problems. However, the real estate disclosure is also extremely important for protecting the seller from possible lawsuits.

If you fail to disclose a problem you are already aware of and it later causes issues for the new buyer, you could be sued for the price of repairs or more. You could downplay some problems because you don’t see them as major complications, however, telling buyers about any issue up front is the best option.

In Pennsylvania, for example, every home seller is obligated to disclose all identified defects that could substantially affect the value of the property. Hiding or manipulating this information can be damaging to the seller as they can face serious legal repercussions.

How are Seller Disclosures Made?

Every state has a different disclosure law, which impacts the way seller disclosures are made. For example, Pennsylvania has very severe disclosure statement requirements, obligating sellers (and their agents) to complete or sign off on papers like a Natural Hazards Disclosure Statement, and even Megan’s Law Disclosures.

Wondering about the structure of disclosure statements? They come in the form of a boilerplate document that’s assembled by the local or state real estate association. In this statement, the seller answers a series of yes/no queries about their house and their experience of living in it.

Moreover, sellers also have to share any documented communication (such as with a neighbor, previous proprietors, or the agent) about a significant fault or item that could have a negative impact on value of the property.

What is in A Seller Disclosure?

The seller can include pretty much all the issues or enhancements that they know of concerning the property. For instance, they may include who worked on the property and whether the permits were pulled. Or, they may mention info on the kind of plumbing and electrical wiring the house has.

Nuances about the neighborhood may also be relevant, along with the working of the household appliances, roof leaks, and other such problems.

Think of a seller's disclosure as the seller’s opportunity to disclose anything that can negatively affect the monetary worth of the house or the living experience of the new owner.

Real Estate Disclosure vs. Home Inspection

The inspection and real estate disclosure process is a critical part of your home-buying experience.

Home inspection allows the buyer to fully inspect any property they intend to purchase. As a buyer, you should always do a full property inspection before proceeding with the purchase. The property inspector checks all systems and components from the rooftop to the basement. Often, a seller hires an inspector before going on the market and supplies the written report to the purchaser.

On the other hand, the real estate disclosure is something the seller gives to the buyer by documenting their knowledge of the property. Although it provides useful info, it is not a substitute for an assessment by an independent third party inspection. A thorough house inspection may disclose faults that the seller may not have been aware of.

Consult Main Line Homes

When it comes to the seller's disclosure, you’ll find plenty of misinformation out there. Therefore, it is important to consult a professional real estate service like Main Line Homes about your disclosure statement before making the home-buying decision. 

The house disclosure allows you to have a complete understanding of the condition of the property you are purchasing.

From your initial property search to the moment you get the keys to your new home, Main Line Homes will be there, guiding you through the process. We can even help connect you with mortgage professionals to get the best rates.

Thinking of buying or selling a home? Call 610-642-3744 or email Janis Peterson at janis@mainlinehomes.com to buy or sell your next home with our experienced real estate agents. Browse attractive homes for sale in Radnor, Wayne, Ardmore, and across the entire Main Line today!