Disclose, Disclose, Disclose!
Once upon a time there was a transaction wherein the Realtor representing the Buyer noticed some abnormalities in the Seller’s answers to questions on the Disclosures. FYI, when you are selling a home, the best and only rule is “Disclose, disclose, disclose!”. In this situation, the Seller, who had lived in the house for some time, seemed to have excellent knowledge of some things and no knowledge at all of things such as whether the roof had leaked while he/she lived there, whether there were any drainage problems on the property, and whether the main systems of the house were in good working order. A quick call to the Seller’s agent resulted in answers forthcoming that the Seller had not experienced any leaking from the roof, nor noticed any drainage problems, and that the systems were all working just fine. I think Seller’s get nervous when filling out these disclosures as they can seem like being asked to air your dirty laundry. Disclosures, however, are really important to the Seller and the Buyer alike. Basically, you just want to look at each question and answer to the best of your ability and knowledge. Sometimes an “N/A” is in order. Sometimes a “Yes” or a “No” is really called for, and sometimes an “Unknown” is absolutely fine. If you are a Seller and fail to disclose something about the property, and it becomes apparent after closing, you could possibly be liable for misrepresenting on your Disclosures… even if it was just a slip of the pen or a spat of bad memory. It’s much better to just let it all hang out, and your Buyers will appreciate your obvious candor. A Buyer feels much more comfortable seeing a few dings on the disclosures than they do wondering at odd answers or obvious misstatements… such as that all work was done with permits when the naked eye can tell that some was not. Again, sometimes you have to take a moment to remember… especially if you’ve lived in a home for a long time. So anyhoo, better just to lay it all out there. Calms everyone right down, protects you as the Seller & sets the tone for a good transaction.
Oil Tanks & the DEQ
Speaking of instructional situations… Make sure that when you are purchasing or selling a home whose heating system has been updated at some point, you check to find out if there was ever an underground oil tank on the property. Dianne and I have written posts on this in the past and you can find them in the archives here, but it is very important to find out 1) If one was/is on the property, 2) If so, was it decommissioned?, and 3) If it was decommissioned, was a DEQ Certificate obtained? (You can call DEQ, give them your address, and find out pretty quickly.) This last question is the kicker, and I find that people are confused about it. If you are a Seller and bought your home with the understanding that it had an oil tank that was decommissioned, but you did not find out if there was a DEQ Certificate and there is NOT one… You will most certainly be required to provide one before closing (Your Buyer does not want to inherit this situation for themselves for when they sell in the future). This involves calling a DEQ-licensed Environmental Services provider. The process includes locating the underground tank, taking soil samples, checking the decommission job if one was done, and verifying that it was done to DEQ standards. If all this checks out, you can get yourself a DEQ Certificate to pass on to your Buyer. So… better to check this out before putting your property on the market rather than getting surprised during a transaction. And Buyers… remember to ask your Realtor about this for more clarification.
Feel free to call Dianne or myself any time for more information on any of the tidbits we provide. We love to help our Property Blotter readers and clients! Hope this was helpful to you today.