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Real Estate 101: Disclosure Laws

When you sell your home, you’ll be required by law to disclose certain things about your home, namely any known material defects. The specifics of these laws—known as disclosure laws—vary by state and locality, but are on the books in almost all areas.

What’s covered under disclosure laws: Generally, you’re required to disclose any material defects which can include structural problems, water and sewage issues, pest infestation, electrical or heating and cooling problems, the presence of asbestos or lead-based paint, and many other issues. For the most part, a seller is only required to disclosure major issues—a leaky faucet may not need to be disclosed—but the laws may vary.

In some cases, it’s not just about disclosing defects: In many areas, sellers must disclose issues that may not technically be a physical defect. These may include past repairs or replacements, remodeling done without proper permits, easements or common areas, liens against the property—and may even include neighborhood nuisances, the existence of pets or any past property line disputes.

What the law says about you as the seller: A key part of disclosure laws is whether or not the material defect is known by the seller. In other words, if the seller is unaware of the problem, they may not be liable. The wording in most disclosure documents will allow for this through the use of such language as “known in good faith any defects” or “known conditions materially affecting.”

There are plenty of gray areas under the law: As you can probably guess, there are plenty of gray areas in terms of what is or is not a material defect and what does or does not need to be disclosed to a buyer. Because of this, it’s imperative that you discuss disclosure with your real estate agent as running afoul of disclosure laws can lead to major problems.

For more than 25 years, Omega Financial has been serving mortgage clients in Massachusetts. Our brokers have approximately 50 years in the mortgage business. You always will receive fast, courteous, and accurate information. Omega Financial, Inc. is a company duly licensed to operate in Massachusetts as a Mortgage Brokerage. We are located in the Town of Norwood, Massachusetts where we have been operating as Omega Financial Incorporated since 1988.

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