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Could You Please Pass the… Property Disclosure Statements?!

Could You Please Pass the… Property Disclosure Statements?!

While you’re getting ready to pass the turkey, mashed potatoes and Grandma’s famous pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving, you may also be devising a plan on how you can get her to disclose that secret recipe to you. Ahh… if only the family recipe-sharing rules were similar to the home sale disclosure rules you’ll find in the real estate world.

Though Grandma may be keeping her secret stash of spices under wraps, sellers don’t have that luxury when they list their homes. In fact, by law, sellers must disclose every known material defect of their home, including many structural issues and other problems. Bet you’re wishing Grandma could be held to those same standards when it comes to her recipes right about now!

Here’s a property disclosure statement ingredient list that sellers must hand over to buyers before they both sign a sales agreement:

  • Date of the property’s last occupancy

  • Structural issues, including those with the roof, basement, foundation or walls

  • Condition of major home systems, including plumbing, electrical and HVAC, as well as the condition of any included appliances

  • Termite or other pest treatments

  • Presence of mold or any environmental hazards or contaminants

  • Remodeling projects or other renovations

  • Issues with the home’s title or homeowner’s insurance

  • _________________ (Space for sellers to disclose other known issues or material defects not otherwise listed)

That disclosure ingredient list was extensive; but, it doesn’t include a few things that may surprise some buyers… and sellers, too. These “ingredients” are not included on property disclosure statements in Pennsylvania:

  • Deaths in the home: This includes cases where someone may have passed away from natural causes or someone may have been murdered or committed suicide in a home.

  • Other crimes committed in the home: This includes cases of rape or other types of violence in the home. According to Pennsylvania law, this sort of psychological damage does not have to be included in property disclosure statements.

  • Haunted happenings: Though supernatural enthusiasts may be excited to blurt out the suspected presence of their home’s haunted features, PA law says that they don’t have to.

  • Description of neighbors: Good or bad, sellers do not have to list the habits or personalities of their neighbors. That information is for buyers find out and assess all on their own.

When it boils down to it, property disclosure statements are gravy! Basically, it is illegal for a seller to hide any flaws, problems or imperfections that they know about their home. If a seller fails to disclose known issues, they could face ramifications that may include repair costs, other monetary damages or, ultimately, the termination of the sales contract. So, remember… if you know it, disclose it!

Now, we repeat… sellers must disclose any flaws, problems or imperfections that they know about. If a home inspection unveils an issue that the seller was unaware of, they should not be penalized. As for Grandma and that secret pumpkin pie recipe… well, those penalties are up to the family! J

From the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices The Preferred Realty family to yours… Happy Thanksgiving!