A Massachusetts Real Estate Lawyer Discusses Real Estate Disclosures
A Massachusetts real estate lawyer may be able to assist you when it comes to the rules and regulations determining real estate property disclosure. Generally speaking, you are obligated to disclose any potential problems to a prospective buyer that may affect the property value. It is also illegal to conceal serious property defects according to most state laws. In several states, it is a legal requirement that you put all real estate disclosures in writing rather than in verbal statements.
Searching for Potential Problems
Most states only require you to disclose property defects you are aware of, so it is not usually necessary to hire an inspector before selling the property. However, some states have stricter disclosure requirements that require you to check for specific issues, such as termite damage. States like California have opted to require highly detailed disclosure procedures. A Massachusetts real estate lawyer may be able to inform you of the property disclosure laws applicable to your area.
While your state may not require a property inspection, it can be in your best interest as the property seller to have an inspection performed. A clean inspection report may exempt you from liability if the new owners discover a problem that develops later on. However, if an inspection does bring a property issue to light, you are most likely required to disclose it to potential buyers. While discovering a new problem is always a risk, it is generally worth it to hire an inspector to document that you were not aware of any other issues at the time of the sale.
Repairing Identified Problems
It is only required that you disclose issues you are aware of, not that you repair them before selling the property. However, issues disclosed in your inspection may lower your home’s value. For this reason, many property sellers find it helpful to make repairs to avoid lowering the property value and decreasing the likelihood that potential buyers will be interested.
Compliance with Federal Disclosure Laws
In addition to state regulations, you are required to follow federal guidelines covering the disclosure of potential hazards and issues on your property. The Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992 requires sellers of any home built before 1978 to follow certain disclosure guidelines. You must tell buyers about any lead-based paint or other lead hazards in the home and allow them a 10-day period to test for lead. You must also provide buyers with the Environmental Protection Agency pamphlet entitled “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home.” It is also necessary to obtain a signed statement from all parties involved with the sale to verify compliance with federal requirements and to keep these statements for three years following the sale.
Contact a Massachusetts Real Estate Lawyer
In most states, it is a legal requirement to provide written disclosures that are signed and dated by both buyer and seller. Even in states where this is not a requirement, it can still be in your best interest to have this formal documentation of compliance. A real estate lawyer may be able to help you sort out the federal and local laws that apply to your property sale. Contact the Law office of Alan H. Segal today at (781) 444-9676 to reach a Massachusetts real estate lawyer who may be able to help you ensure compliance with disclosure regulations and prevent future litigation.