What do I need to disclose when selling my house?
You may be dreading the disclosure required of all property owners in Missouri, wondering if you have to make an all-inclusive list of every chip in the paint, scratch in the molding or crack in the sidewalk. While it is illegal in many states to try and cover up issues such as major structural problems, real estate disclosure is not meant to be a laundry list of minor issues either.
According to FindLaw, the point of requiring disclosure is to let buyers know about potential problems, as well as any known problems, before they sign on the dotted line. The point is that they have a right to know about issues that may affect their investment and its value, just as you had when you bought the house.
Have you had problems with your sewer line backing up into the house? How about water in your basement or trouble with your HVAC system? Issues such as these, with the potential of costing several thousands of dollars in damage and/or repairs, are the types of things that should be included in a disclosure statement, along with other needed repairs.
That doesn’t mean you have to hire an inspector so you can uncover any potential problems, however. It just means you have to disclose problems that you are aware of. It can be a good idea for you to have your home inspected before listing anyway. That gives you the opportunity to fix issues that may cause a buyer to reconsider, or ask for a repair allowance in the sales contract. It can be less expensive at times to repair something beforehand than make an allowance for the buyer to repair it.
Many states, including Missouri, require that you disclose whether methamphetamine was produced on site. Federal law requires that you disclose whether lead-based paint and related risks are present in homes built prior to 1978. Some counties and cities may also require certain disclosures, so checking first is always a good idea.
Real estate disclosures are typically made in writing using special forms; that way, the buyer cannot claim ignorance of issues and the seller has proof that disclosure was made. The form should also be dated and signed by both parties.