What do I have to disclose to a buyer?
Great question, and quite a common one. In real estate transactions it is often the best course of action to always disclose when it comes to defects in the property or troubles from days gone by. The last thing you would want is for the basement to be wet come spring time and the new owner learns from the neighbor that "oh ya they had water there every spring". That will only come back to bite you in the butt.
What are you "required" to disclose? The listing contract that you'll most likely be asked to enter into contains the following term:
Sellers are required by common law to disclose defects that are hidden, not visible or discoverable through a reasonable inspection of the Property, and that render the Property dangerous or potentially dangerous to the occupants or unfit for habitation. Sellers may also be required to disclose government and local authority notices, lack of development permits and hidden defects that would involve great expense to remedy.
Many sellers have questions on disclosure such as:
- So if the sump pump broke, we got some water, and I fixed the water and cleaned up the damage do I have to disclose that?
- We had a hail storm 3 years ago and had to replace the shingles as well as repair some water damage from the storm do I have to disclose that?
Often the best rule of thumb is yes you "should" disclose that to the potential buyer. It's like buying a car. It may have been in an accident and repaired, it looks as good as new, would you want to know it was in an accident? It operates as good as new, looks as good as new, do you or would you want to know? If you answer that question with a "Yes" then if you were the seller, do onto others as you would have done onto you.
Sure the buyer can order a home inspection which would inspect the shingles, the house, the sump pump and pit, test for moisture levels, but it can not see behind walls and under paint, or lift up the flooring etc.... so while you may have repaired all the damages to the best of your knowledge it is possible that the problem was not rectified. So disclose and sell with that piece of mind. When we try and hide or "forget" about an issue that really looks bad in the eyes of the buyer and creates even more questions than there really are.
A proactive seller that is on top of repairs and fixes them regularly knows "stuff happens". This happened we fixed it, this happened and we fixed that, it's part of home ownership when stuff happens we take care of it. If you keep your home maintained that attention to detail will be clear and a home inspection is welcomed, and telling the buyer about replacing the hot water tank when it failed is no big deal. It happens.