One very important piece of paper that you’ll need to sign when closing on your new home purchase is the seller disclosure form. This form is where the seller lists all the problems that they know about their property. The form includes some key questions about their home, including issues such as asbestos and flood damage. Before you sign the form, here are 3 things you need to know about it.
Sellers Must Fill Out The Disclosure Form On Their Own
The seller’s agent can explain to them what the form is, but the seller is the only one that should be filling it out. This is because the form must be filled out honestly by the previous owner for liability purposes. The expectations are that by having the seller fill out the form, they are responsible for any problems they disclose, or problems they chose not to disclose. The integrity of the answers can be ruined if the seller’s agent gives them advice about how to fill it out.
Sellers Cannot Avoid Answering Questions
When filling out the disclosure form, they will have three possible responses:
- Not to my knowledge (NTMK)
The seller can only give NTMK as a response if they honestly do not know the answer. For example, they may think they have lead paint in their home due to the age of the home, but unless they have the home tested for lead paint and know with certainty, they can write NTMK on the form.
A seller cannot avoid admitting to a problem by writing NTMK as an answer.
Sellers Are Protected By Answering Questions
If there is an existing problem with a home, it is in the seller’s best interest to disclose this information on the seller disclosure form. Disclosing problems provides them with legal protection if any of the listed problems are made apparent after the home is sold.
When a seller decides not to admit to a problem with their home because they are afraid it will cause them to lose the sale, it can have big legal ramifications down the road. It opens them up to a potential lawsuit where you can sue the seller for damages related to making repairs.
Do you feel like the seller of your new home lied on their seller disclosure form? Before signing the form, talk with a real estate lawyer like Jack W Hanemann, P.S. to find out what your options are.