Full Disclosure! Buyers and Sellers, Listen Up!

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Gail PeltoBy Gail Pelto

Florida case law provides that, with some exceptions, a home seller must disclose any facts or conditions about the property that have a substantial impact on its value or desirability, and that others cannot easily see for themselves.

In order to assist sellers, the Florida Association of Realtors provides a standardized form for the sellers to complete that can be provided to potential buyers for their review. As a buyer, you should scrutinize this form and make sure to ask questions about anything on that form that you don’t understand or for which you need or want more clarification. The categories on this form include information about plumbing, flood, structural issues, pest infestations, electrical issues, mold, etc. These items can be current or have been in the past and remedied. NOTE: if there was an issue in the past and remedied, find out how it was remedied. For example: If mold had been an issue, was it simply sprayed with bleach or did a remediation company actually remediate the problem? (I read a disclosure about this recently which simply stated “mold repaired.” Ask questions.

Some legal experts say sellers can make disclosures either written or verbally, with a few exceptions. Florida law doesn’t require them to be in writing. HOWEVER, if you, as a seller, do make only oral disclosures, you might have a difficult time proving that you made them – this could be a problem if the buyer finds problems AFTER purchasing the property. So, it’s best that you disclose in writing.

As a Seller, if you find out about more issues after you’ve completed your initial disclosures form, MAKE SURE you update them prior to you or your agent giving them to a potential buyer. Also note that even If you are selling your home “As Is,” you still need to disclose.
A past client I worked with did not disclose a material defect and was later sued by the buyer. Do not take property disclosures lightly. As a seller, make sure they are complete and current. As a buyer, make sure you read them and understand them and, if necessary, question them.

Have questions about this or any other home buying or selling issue? Then call me at 850-374-0454 or email to Gail.Pelto@kw.com. As always, I’m here to help.

Gail Pelto is a Board Member with The Rotary Club of Destin and the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation—and yes, a powerful, full-time real estate agent with Keller Williams Realty Success Realty. Call her with any real estate questions you have, and she’ll guide you in the right direction. Call her direct at 850-374-0454 or email to Gail.Pelto@kw.com. Want to know what the value of your property is today? Go to www.DestinAgent.com.