Key Details About Seller Disclosures in Real Estate Transactions
A Real Estate Lawyer will Clarify Any Doubts Regarding Your Real Estate Disclosure Form in Monmouth and Ocean County towns like Sea Bright, Howell, Toms River, Tinton Falls, and Middletown.
Buying or selling a home involves a burdensome amount of paperwork, all with legal consequences if they are not prepared and reviewed diligently. A seller has certain obligations to a buyer, as does a buyer to a seller. One of the essential duties of a seller is to reveal facts about the property they sell. Sure, a seller wants to highlight the positive features of their house, but they also want to disclose what may be wrong with the property to avoid future problems. For that purpose, the seller’s disclosure statement is an important document to assure buyers participating in real estate transactions.
Seller Disclosure in New Jersey
The disclosure statement aims to report any defects or problems with the residence to potential buyers. It is not required but does help a seller fulfill their legal duty and assure a buyer about their purchase.
What Type of Information Should I Provide in the Disclosure Process?
If you sell a house, you may not have to disclose obvious or trivial issues like overgrown landscape or peeling paint that you may point out during a walk-through inspection. Your legal obligation is confessing to material defects or those that would affect a buyer’s decision about purchasing the property, for example, a foundation crack that would cost a great deal of money to fix. But, you must reveal problems that a buyer would not know about, such as prior water damage or flooding at the property, even if repaired. The list of items that most often lead to problems is on a list to check off, if applicable, on a legal form, the seller’s disclosure form.
The Real Estate Disclosure Form Checklist
The seller’s disclosure form is a standard form of the New Jersey Association of Realtors. It contains a checklist of items arranged by main sections of a property. The form gives the buyer a broad and detailed picture of the state of the property and its habitability, such as the house’s age, occupancy, and title status.
Buyer’s Benefits of the Seller’s Disclosure Statement
A buyer wants to know if the seller is the original or subsequent owner living on-site, unlike a flipper who never resided there. One who lives there would know more about the property than one who did not. The age of the home also reveals how much work the house may need, including big items that erode with wear and weather, such as roofs, wood, sewage systems, and the like. Plumbing, heating, air conditioning, electrical system, and major appliance issues are all accounted for on the disclosure form, as are land, drainage, and property easements that would infringe on the use or resale of the property.
Most Common Types of Owner’s Disclosures in New Jersey
Significant areas of interest to a buyer are the roof, basement, and structural condition, regarding termites (and other destructive pests), dry rot, and foundation leaks. The buyer also wants to know if they are buying into a lawsuit by any existing legal disputes regarding title or land use that would interfere with their ownership. They also want to know about hazardous wastes on or near the property, including radon.
But even if you, as the seller, do not find an item on the checklist but know or should know a problem exists, you are responsible for disclosing any material defects undetectable to the buyer on an inspection. Material defects are those affecting the structure and surrounding property. When you have actual or constructive knowledge of a material defect, such as a rodent infestation beneath the property you saw or learned of from others, you are legally required to reveal it. New Jersey mandates that you inform the buyer of any latent defects.
How Can a Buyer Handle Undisclosed Defects in New Jersey Against a Seller?
The consequence of hiding a known defect that would dissuade a buyer from purchasing had they known about it is the rescission of the sale plus any other monetary loss resulting from the transaction.
Confirmed foundation cracks and estimated tens of thousands of dollars to fix may spur a buyer to sue you for damages. Thus, if you sell your house, knowing or suspecting that it has a cracked foundation, the buyer may sue you when they discover the defect after the sale closes. The discovery may occur when the buyer finds water leaking into the house from beneath the wood flooring, and they call a plumber and contractor to determine the source.
They may ask a judge to cancel or rescind the contract or ask for monetary compensation for their losses and future costs to repair the property. A judge may award damages based on the circumstances, so you want to make sure you disclose what you know or should know about the property. You may pay greater damages if it becomes known that you willfully hid costly property defects that significantly affect the property’s habitability or market value.
Contact Our Seller Disclosure Lawyers and Get Your Free Consultation in Brick and Sea Girt NJ
While a seller’s disclosure statement is not a legal requirement, a real estate attorney representing you or advising you about the sale might recommend you fill one out. In that way, you fulfill your legal duty and put the buyer on notice of the property’s condition. Both seller and buyer typically sign off on the disclosures, so a later buyer’s nondisclosure claim may be more difficult. Litigation regarding real estate transactions can be quite costly, including the cost of significant repairs and other damages resulting from undisclosed defects. As such, you are protecting yourself by getting legal guidance in selling your property.
Enlist the services of a real estate attorney at The Bronzino Law Firm for your residence sale or purchase in Sea Bright, Rumson, Tinton Falls, Freehold, Toms River, Belmar, and elsewhere in Ocean and Monmouth County. When it comes to selling a property and deciding what to disclose, your best defense is sometimes prevention. On the reverse side of the coin, having an attorney advocating for you throughout the sale may protect you from unknown pitfalls of the agreement. Don’t proceed without the informed guidance you need for your real estate transaction. Consult an experienced real estate lawyer by calling our Sea Girt or Brick office at (732) 812-3102 today. We have years of background handling real estate matters, and our attorneys are ready to assist you in the process of buying or selling your property.