Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Kentucky Seller Disclosures are Important

When is a seller's disclosure of property condition required (requirements of KRS 324.360)?
  • Sales and purchases involving single-family residential real estate dwellings in Kentucky if any person licensed receives compensation.
When is it NOT required?
  • Residential purchases of new homes if a warranty is offered
  • Sales of real estate at auction
  • A court supervised foreclosure

What You Must Know About The Seller's Disclosure
You should know what a seller's disclosure is if you are selling your Kentucky home, more so if you are buying one. If you are selling your home, you can refuse to complete and/or sign the disclosure, however put yourself in the buyer's shoes, would you buy the home? If you decide not to disclose what you know to be the physical problems of your house (now and while you've owned it), you will most likely not get the highest price. If you are the one buying a home, you should make it a point to obtain the seller's disclosure and learn how to make use of the information it contains to boost your position as home buyer and get a better deal.

What's in a Seller's Disclosure
Take a look at the following questions. Although they are by no means complete, these are the type of questions you will need to answer when completing your own seller's disclosure.
  • Are there any existing physical defects? If yes, what are they?
  • Does the basement leak? What is the condition of the basement?
  • Does the roof leak? What is the condition of the roof?
  • What is the source and condition of water supply?
  • What is the source and condition of sewage service?
  • Do you know if there are problems with your electrical wiring system?
  • Are you aware of any plumbing issues in the house that can possibly be hazardous to its new owners?
  • Has the house been altered without necessary building permits?
  • Is there anything else that the buyer should be concerned with when it comes to safety in the house?
  • Did the house suffer any damages from fire, flooding, hurricanes, etc?
  • Are there any parts of the house that must be repaired or replaced?

Remember that it is your responsibility as the home seller to disclose all the relevant information to the interested buyer. If you don't, you may find yourself in hot water for failing to disclosure. One scenario we see quite often is investors or landlords who leave the disclosures blank or draw lines through everything because they have never lived in the home. This is unacceptable. In almost all cases, repairs have been made and buyers should insist these be disclosed.

Importance of Seller's Disclosure to the Home Buyer
If you are buying a house, make sure to review and study the information contained in the seller's disclosure prior to signing the sales contract. Knowing more about the house you are buying will be a big help to confirm that you are not paying more than the real value of the property. For example, let's say you learn from the seller's disclosure that the roof leaks in many places. This means major repair or even a total replacement is needed. You should consider how much it will cost you to fix the roof because this will jack up the total costs of acquiring the home and making it habitable. You can even use that information as leverage and request the owner lower the selling price.

While the seller's disclosure will help you haggle for a lower price if the house has major deficiencies for which you must spend on later after buying the property, you should realize that there could still be a number of minor issues that may be undisclosed. Structural defects may not be included in the seller's disclosure if the owner is not aware of them. Therefore, it is in your best interest to hire a professional home inspector to check out the property you intend to buy.

Whether you're the buyer or the seller, you stand to benefit from knowing more about the seller's disclosure, good agents will be able to assist you with any questions you have.

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