If you spent any time around lawyers, real estate agents or other real estate professionals you may have heard that they say disclose, disclose, disclose! Well, what do they actually mean by this? If you’re expecting to sell your house soon, it’s most definitely worth your time to understand these five things sellers need to know about real estate disclosures in Massachusetts.
When a buyer purchases real estate from you, they are obviously expecting to get enjoyment from their property. But as the home seller, if you are aware of anything on the property or the location that might be prohibitive to a buyer’s enjoyment—it is one of the things you must disclose in your real estate disclosure statement. An example might be: is there a high school nearby with a band or another source of deafening noise? Or maybe a factory nearby makes smoke and fumes that might overwhelm the neighborhood at certain times. Are there train tracks nearby that make nighttime a continuous session of waking up to loud rumbling? These are somewhat extreme examples but you get the general idea; if there are things about your house or the location that cause problems, it is in your best interest as a seller in Massachusetts to disclose those to the buyer.
2. Disclose, Disclose, Disclose
Making your buyer aware of any existing or potential dangers on your property is another thing that Massachusetts sellers are required to disclose. These state laws do vary widely, but most states require that you disclose any potential hazards that a homeowner would have. It’s advisable that you check with your real estate agent or lawyer to make sure you are disclosing everything required by Massachusetts law. In addition to state laws, there are also federal laws to comply with. The biggest one is whether or not lead paint exists anywhere within your property. Essentially this says that if you know the property is old enough to have any lead paint anywhere, you do need to make sure that is disclosed to the buyer. There’s another federal law that is more rare but certainly does happen. The famous WR Grace situation in Woburn Massachusetts is a prime example. If you are aware of anything that led to the contamination of the soil or anything else in the property you need to disclose what you know. Finally, closer to home, much more common hazard disclosures might be issues you’ve had with pests such as termites, perhaps mold, or any other thing that would be threatening to the buyer living in the property.
Well, this one’s a little grim and it’s not very typical for a seller but some states do have laws governing disclosing deaths that have occurred on the property. Usually, deaths that have causes unrelated to any issues with the property itself most likely will not need to be disclosed, Again you need to comply with Massachusetts law, so to be absolutely sure, check with a lawyer licensed in Massachusetts if this could apply to your property.
Also in your real estate disclosures, you need to let your buyers know what kind of repairs were made in your house and when they were made. You may well be aware of certain issues in a home that might continue to rear their ugly heads. For example, was there an issue with leaks from the roof that caused water damage? What was the source of the water, was it fixed and didn’t result in mold? And if there was mold was it remediated by a professional? Sometimes it may be tempting to forget about these types of disclosures especially if they happened a long time ago. But should they come to light when the buyer brings their property inspector, you could be in for some real problems. So as always, the best bet is to fully disclose everything you know about the property so that nothing could ever come back and create a legal problem for you.
5. Sell Your House “As-Is“
When you sell your Massachusetts house “as is”, it’s important to know you still need to make disclosures of any known issues with the property that might devalue the property. The reason for this is there is a risk of being sued if you failed to disclose information you were aware of at the time you sell your house. Make sure that you have everything in writing that would be included in the sale of your home from the start.
For instance, the huge and impossible-to-move grandfather’s clock will not be included. Conversely, if something is missing from the property and it may not be noticeable during a walk-through but it would be expected to be present you should disclose that. An example of this would be if your house buyer walks through the property on a very hot day in the summer and your buyer or buyer’s inspector sees a heating unit—they expect it to be in working order. If you know that this is just an old shell and there are no functional parts you could quickly be sued for failure to disclose this information. So again – be safe by giving full disclosure.
When you sell your house in Massachusetts, you may consider holding back some information you were aware of if it’s not legally required in by state laws. But it’s wise to disclose everything you do know just to make sure that in the future you don’t find yourself in court being sued for “failure to disclose”. In simple terms; tell your potential buyers everything you are aware of and answer their questions truthfully and completely. This may end up lowering your selling price by some amount, but in the end, it’s far better than facing big legal troubles down the road.
As always please let us know if you have any comments on this article and certainly, if you’re interested in selling to a cash buyer please don’t hesitate to give us a call or send us a message. We give you a fast free evaluation and cash offer. Who knows, you just may decide it’s best to sell directly to Summit Buys Houses as is! Learn more about how we can help you by sending us a message or giving us a call at (978) 254-3800 today!