If you discuss the issue of disclosures in real estate listings with an attorney, they will tell you there's no such thing as being too nitpicky. Let's explore why a real estate attorney usually feels this way and how you can protect your interests with detailed disclosures.
Fundamentally, the issue boils down to the rights of buyers to know what they're getting into with a property. Much of this is very simple and sensible, such as the right of a buyer to know whether the roof is going to collapse within a couple of years of purchasing a house. If the seller doesn't disclose problems with the condition of the roof at the time of sale, the buyer has ground to seek damages down the road. There are scenarios where the house ends up being a complete loss for the buyer, and that would potentially put the seller on the hook for major damages.
Disclosure Requirements Go Far
Sellers are often very surprised when a real estate attorney services provider tells them just how far disclosures have to go. You must disclose virtually anything that might materially change the value or warranty of a property. If a developer built subdivisions on top of a reclaimed landfill, for example, they have to disclose that when they sell the units.
One of the more seemingly silly disclosure requirements covers community perceptions of the property. If a house is well-known within the community for being haunted, the seller must disclose that. The same goes for if the house was the scene of a notorious crime. These perceptions can materially and adversely affect the house's value just as much as strict facts can.
How to Protect Your Interests
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to ensure you've covered disclosure requirements. It's wise to hire a licensed inspector to verify the condition of the property.
You'll also have to decide what you want to do with the information from the inspection. Sellers are welcome to perform repairs, but they need to complete these before they make listings. Do not publish a listing if the work isn't finished. You also have the option to not perform the repairs and simply disclose the problems to prospective buyers.
A detailed title search is a prudent choice, too. This is a common item on the list of real estate attorney services. A law firm can check the history of the property and provide disclosures for boundary disputes, easements, resource rights, unresolved liens, title issues, and environmental hazards.