Home-selling tips: What to disclose when showing a property
Special to the Sun-Bonanza
For many years it was the Buyer’s responsibility to discover property deficiencies. That practice was summarized with the phrase, “Caveat Emptor” — “Let the buyer beware.”
The principle was that the Buyer alone is responsible for checking the quality and suitability of goods before they are purchased.
As consumer protection laws proliferated they found their way to the real estate industry and the pendulum swung the other way. Sellers now have the responsibility of sharing what they know about a property.
Most people are under the assumption that an Agent or Seller must disclose if there was a homicide, suicide or death of any other nature in the property.
In Nevada, there is no requirement to disclose such matters. The only disclosure pertaining to death in the property occurs when the death was due to the condition of the property.
Some Buyers ask up front if anybody has died in the property. This puts the Agent is a bit of a tenuous situation.
There is no place to readily find out such information. The Agent may have first hand knowledge of such a situation, but must be very careful about what is disclosed and when the disclosure is made.
A home wherein a crime punishable as a felony has taken place is likewise not subject to any special disclosure unless the crime involved the manufacturing of any quantity of methamphetamine.
AIDS is also not required to be disclosed whether an occupant merely lived there, or actually passed away in the house.
The law goes on to absolve the requirement to disclose any other disease that an occupant had that was not known to be transmitted by the occupancy of the house.
In other words, if the house didn’t cause it, there is no need to disclose it.
Disclosures can be subjective, difficult to measure by an objective standard. These can include noise in the neighborhood.
It isn’t always barking dogs that create the nuisance, some kids are loud in their play, playing of music, or tuning up of their cars. What is noise to some can be “music” to others.
A neighbor with a beehive might be a disclosure item to someone allergic to bees. We once marketed a subdivision that was in earshot of the town animal shelter with its cacophony of forlorn barking, and overlooked the local funeral home and its chimney that smoked when they were working. Not everybody would appreciate one, or both, of these situations.
Agents can find themselves in a bit of a predicament with disclosures. If they know something and disclose it even though they are not required to do so can initiate litigation by a Seller that thinks he has been harmed if the Buyer offers less, or simply walks away from the transaction.
On the other hand, if they don’t disclose it and the Buyer finds out they could be upset, especially if they included certain situations in their search criteria, i.e.- a home that nobody has died in. The razor’s edge is a fine walk for sure.
Our Advice: Many people come to our area from other states and expect our disclosure standards to match theirs. If you have strong feelings about a specific item, be sure to tell your Agent.
Sellers and Agents may not be required to tell you, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t if you ask. We operate with the motto, “When in doubt, disclose.”
Since there can be ramifications if you do, or do not, disclose, better to err on the side of disclosure. If a Buyer’s Agent wants to be protected from potential disclosure litigation, consider using a Buyer’s Broker Agreement. With that in place you have a fiduciary duty to the Buyer.
We are not all alike and cannot judge what a Buyer will think of a situation they are moving in to. They may have their own garage band and like the idea that the neighbors make loud music as well.
Disclose … and then let the Buyer decided what is right for him or her.
Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, CDPE, SFR, work for RE/MAX Realty Affiliates in the Carson Valley. Visit carsonvalleyland.com or call 775-781-5472 for information.
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