Full disclosures build buyer confidence The presence of radon, for example, can be life-threatening
Full disclosures build buyer confidence
July 21, 2006
It is every home buyer's nightmare: That unanticipated and costly something that shows up long after the deal is done and the books are closed. Termites. Radon. Asbestos. A leaky roof.
These are all buyer headaches -- just the kinds of things that call down strings of invective, and sometimes legal action, upon the seller.
"People should know what they are getting into," says Barry Levy, a salesman with the Levy Team in the District. "And no one wants to end up with a lawsuit."
But doesn't the old adage "caveat emptor" -- buyer beware -- still hold true in home buying?
Yes and no. Buyers should always be savvy, wherever and whatever they buy. A home inspection by a licensed professional is always a good idea.
But exactly how savvy a homeowner needs to be can depend upon a number of factors, including location, your broker, and the age of the house you wish to purchase.
The old saw about the wary buyer has been evolving recently as courts and state legislatures have imposed certain disclosure requirements to protect consumers.
The presence of radon, for example, can be life-threatening. Based on new reports from the National Academy of Sciences, the Environmental Protection Agency now estimates that 21,000 Americans die of radon-induced lung cancer every year. The American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (AARST) estimate 10 million homes and 38 million Americans are at risk from dangerous radon exposure.
To ensure that consumers are aware of these and other issues, an increasing number of states require sellers to fill out a disclosure form that lists current problems and issues with the property.
What's in a disclosure form? Important information about water and sewer systems, heating and air conditioning, structural defects and, yes, termites and a leaky roof.
Generally, disclosures are offered at the time of contract.
According to the most recent National Association of Realtors Profile of Homebuyers and Sellers, six out of 10 buyers reported that their agent asked them to sign some sort of disclosure agreement.