Disclosure statements can give home sellers nightmares. After all, there can be major legal repercussions if a property's defects aren't fully disclosed. But what do you have to tell a potential buyer about a home's problems. After all, all home buyers want to highlight the positive aspects of their home, not its negatives.
There's good news for Georgia home sellers worried about filling out a formal disclosure form. You don't have to. Here's not so good news. You are required by law to tell a buyer about material defects in your property. Read on to find out more about that.
Here's what's important. You don't need to tell prospective buyers every repair you ever made on your property. Don't worry about the nick in the basement wall or a leaky faucet. (You still want to fix these so that they don't diminish the value of your home.)
You also want to honestly answer questions from people who view your home. Answering untruthfully or in a misleading manner can have serious legal repercussions. The buyer can take legal action against you if the misrepresentation was serious enough. They could rescind the purchase of your home and even force you to pay their legal expenses.
You don't need to worry if you are not familiar with disclosure requirements or real estate law. A professional realtor will walk you through the process. If you work with a Clever Partner Agent, you can be sure that your sale will be finalized without any legal worries.
If you want to sell your home, here is our guide to what you need to know about Georgia real estate seller disclosures.
Why Do I Need to Disclose My Property's Flaws?
Disclosing a home's defects seems to be counter-intuitive. But it could save you a lot of legal problems. It can also be daunting. The worry of a lawsuit can create a lot of anxiety for home sellers.
Relax. There's no need to fear disclosure statements. You don't have to list all of your home's problems for the prospective buyer. It is, however, in your interest to tell a buyer about any major concerns with the property. This will help you avoid having a dissatisfied home buyer.
The fear of legal problems after a home sale is one of the reasons home sellers are increasingly conducting their own home inspections before they list their homes. A home inspection can help you discover potential problems that could arise during negotiations or after the sale is finalized.
If you know about the problem, you will be able to weigh it into the negotiations and avoid grievances. You can also make repairs before potential home buyers view your home.
What Must You Disclose?
There is no formal legal requirement in Georgia for a seller to fill out a disclosure form. But the seller does have to inform the buyer about any material defects. In this case something is considered “material” if the defect would cause a person to not buy the property or pay less for it.
There are certain exceptions to Georgia laws to what you must disclose, but it's best to have an inspection done before you list a home. That way you will be aware of any significant damage to your property that you may be required to divulge by law.
Sellers also must honestly answer a buyer's (or his or her agent's questions) about a property. These may include information requests about past repairs. If repairs were made by a previous owner, you must legally answer to the best of your knowledge.
You will also want to disclose any defects to major appliances, ceilings, bathtubs, the foundation, plumbing, and the heating system.
You do not need to let a prospective buyer know about the smallest problem with the home. Even issues that you may deem significant do not necessarily have to be disclosed. For example, you don't have to tell a buyer if a murder occurred at the property. But a seller does have to answer truthfully, if the buyer asks.
When Do Georgia Home Sellers Need to Provide Disclosures?
Since there is no formal disclosure agreement that must be made, it's best to let the buyer know about material defects before negotiations begin. This way the buyer will be fully informed when he or she makes an offer.
If problem or problems are discovered after this, a buyer may feel duped and walk away from the deal. If they are found after the sale is complete, the buyer could take legal recourse. The contract could be rescinded. Even in a best case scenario, you could face mounting legal fees and the property sale would be unresolved.
That's why it's best to discuss any major issues concerning the property with your realtor. They know Georgia real estate law and can guide you when it comes to what you need to disclose. They work with home buyers and other agents on a daily basis and will be able to finesse the timing and manner of disclosure.
Get Professional Advice
Although a formal home disclosure agreement is not mandated by law in Georgia, it is in your best interest to let a buyer know about significant defects in your home. Honestly telling a buyer about problems with your home will help protect you from potential lawsuits.
If a disclosure is properly made, there is less of a chance that a home buyer will feel bitter about his or her purchase. Disclosure can be trick and knowing how to approach the subject requires a deft touch. That's why it's best to work with a professional real estate agent about what you need to disclose and what may be too much information for the buyer.
A Clever Partner Agent can answer any questions you may have about the process. Partner Agents are full-service and they are top-real estate agents from major companies like Keller Williams, Century 21, and RE/MAX. They will help put more money into your pocket at closing and guide you through the process of fulfilling all necessary legal requirements.