Mar 23, 2010

Home Seller Disclosures: Don't Wait Until Last Minute!

Having recently sold my house, I had to be grateful that the State of California has created a form with which to make the mandatory seller disclosures. Grateful for having to fill out yet another form, you ask?

Yes, it might sound odd, but I've read and written enough Nolo books to know that not only is providing full disclosures the law, but that it's far better for buyers to learn stuff ahead of time than be unpleasantly surprised later.

And here's the thing: After having lived in our house for ten-plus year, we'd fallen into the common rut of having become somewhat blind to its minor repair needs. That side door that had a little trouble opening? Oh, right, but we'd always used the nearby back door. The oven door that didn't quite close? That's what the nearby broom handle was for!

It was a shock to realize that, even when I wanted to give the prospective buyers a full set of disclosures, my memory was slow to cooperate.

Good thing I started a draft of the form a few days before we were to meet with our Realtor. And still, we remembered a couple more things while sitting in her office filling out the final version. But it was only the next day when we remembered the crack in the front door.

Remembering house defects after having filled out the disclosure forms doesn't excuse a seller from having to tell the buyers. This could have involved both hassle and embarrassment if we'd needed to amend our disclosures, but luckily, our Realtor still hadn't filled out her version of the disclosure form. She added the aforementioned crack to her list. 

Whew. Now you see why my opening advice was, don't wait until the last minute to fill out the form!