Selling a home in California isn’t quite like selling a home anywhere else in the United States. On top of your normal seller duties, you must also complete the required seller disclosures, which are more complicated than in other states. Read on for a closer look at your responsibilities.
If you’re selling a home in California, you’re facing an uphill challenge. Aside from the typical stresses of listing your home and finding the right buyer, sellers are tasked with some of the most complex disclosure requirements in the country.
As the homeowner, it’s your job to ensure you properly disclose information regarding your home. Otherwise, you could find yourself in legal trouble and be sued for fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.
Working with a top-rated real estate agent in California can help to remove much of the guesswork associated with seller disclosures. If you’re selling your CA home, Clever can help you connect with an experienced agent in your local market to provide guidance and support throughout the process.
Still, it’s helpful to know ahead of time about your obligations as the seller. Read on to learn more about seller disclosures in California and how you can uphold your responsibilities to the buyer:
Seller Disclosure Requirements in California
Any residential real estate transaction in California requires the seller to make specific disclosures to the buyer. Sellers must complete the Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement and provide it to the buyer as soon as possible before transferring the title.
In the disclosures, the seller will check off pre-listed items that the property contains, including appliances, utilities, swimming pools, rain gutters, and fire alarm, to name a few. You must also acknowledge whether anything is not in proper working order, to the best of your knowledge.
You will need to document any structural defects that you are aware of and provide an explanation. The form also asks specific questions regarding the property, including the knowledge of any structural additions to the property (e.g. bedroom additions, structural modifications, etc.), flooding problems, or major weather-related damage to the property. An explanation will be required for each "Yes" answer.
Additional disclosures include the following:
- Certain information about the neighborhood (e.g. the land adjacent to yours may be zoned for timber production)
- The home is within two miles of an airport
- The home is within the jurisdiction of the San Francisco Bay Conservancy and Development Commission
- Natural hazards disclosures, which state if the home is in a flood zone, area of high fire risk, designated wildlife area, or earthquake fault zone.
- Property taxes
- Window security bars
- Whether the property is zoned as or affected by an industrial use facility
- Whether the property has been used as a laboratory for methamphetamine production
- Smoke detector compliance
- Lead-based paint hazards
However, there are a few exemptions from the seller disclosure requirements. Foreclosure sales and court-ordered sales are not required to furnish seller disclosures. Properties being transferred as part of an estate, to another co-owner, to an heir, to or from any government entity, or as a result of a failure to pay taxes do not require seller disclosures.
What makes the disclosures so complex in California is that aside from the typical disclosure form, there are additional disclosures to be made in the form of separate written statements.
It’s best to check with your real estate agent to determine whether seller disclosures are needed and what you’re required to provide. Once disclosures have been provided, the buyer has three days to pull out of the contract (five days if disclosures were delivered by mail) via a written termination to the seller or the seller’s agent.
Real Estate Agent Disclosure Requirements in California
Aside from providing guidance and support to the seller, both the seller’s and buyer’s real estate agents play a role in the disclosure process. On the disclosure form, the seller’s agent must fill out Section III, which acknowledges that the agent has reviewed the seller’s portion of the disclosures and has performed a visual inspection to verify its authenticity.
The agent has the opportunity to disclose additional information on the form as needed.
The buyer’s agent must fill out Section IV, which is similar in nature to the seller’s agent’s section. The buyer’s agent bases their disclosures on the areas of the property that are readily accessible.
The seller, buyer, and both agents must also acknowledge that they can obtain a home inspection to identify additional areas of concern.
Consequences for Failure to Disclose
The disclosures are a major focus for sellers. Overlooking any of the required disclosures could make you liable for damages the buyer suffers as a result. Sellers cannot omit information, nor can they falsify information to the buyer. Doing so will only put you at risk, which could ultimately negate any gains from your home sale.
How a Clever Partner Agent Can Help
Selling a home in California is a time-consuming, complicated process, and the seller disclosures only add to the complexity. If you’re considering selling your home, the first step is to partner with an experienced local real estate agent that can support you through the process.
Clever Partner Agents are full-service, top-rated agents in their local markets that help you every step of the way. We can not only help you feel confident about the disclosure process and the home selling process at large, but can also help you maximize your profits. Our Partner Agents work for a flat commission fee rather than the standard fee, giving you immediate cost savings up front.
Connect with Clever today for a no-obligation consultation and let us introduce you to one of our Partner Agents in your area that can help you navigate the challenges of selling your California home.