Homeowners know to highlight everything that makes their home stand out when it comes time to make a sale. That desire to emphasize the positives needs to be tempered with honesty about structural or functional issues. Disclosures are, of course, state-mandated information.
Some states require you to be completely upfront about shortcomings with your property. Others make it the buyer’s job to find out what they’re getting into. Let’s take a look at what you need to know about disclosures from both sides of the transaction in Massachusetts.
Where Massachusetts Stands on Real Estate Disclosures
Massachusetts is what, in legal terminology, is called a caveat emptor state — or if you prefer English, a “buyer beware” state. The term implies that it is up to the buyer to ask the right questions or carry out inspections that would reveal any shortcomings with the house they’re about to purchase.
So from a legal perspective, there isn’t a lot of information that sellers in Massachusetts are required to volunteer. There are, however, a couple of things that you are required to disclose to potential buyers.
Obligatory Disclosures While Selling a House in Massachusetts
Homeowners in Massachusetts with properties constructed before 1978 are required to make a lead paint disclosure. This takes the form of a certification that lets buyers know about the dangerous effects of lead paint and how to avoid them. In addition, sellers must disclose what they know about the use of lead paint on their property.
Massachusetts requires sellers to complete the Property Transfer Notification Certification before they enter a purchase agreement with a buyer. The document is signed by the buyer and seller along with their respective real estate agents. Buyers are alerted through the notification that they are free to carry out an independent risk assessment inside ten days of receiving it.
The other disclosure sellers in Massachusetts are required to make is about the presence of a septic system on the property. The guidelines for this process are laid out in Title 5 of the Massachusetts State Environmental Code.
According to the code, any septic system must be inspected within two years of a house being sold. In case weather conditions are an impediment to an inspection, it can be carried out inside six months of the sale.
The septic system assessment is carried out by an approved inspector. The results are shared not just with the buyer, but also the local board of health. The law doesn’t specify which party pays for the inspection, but it is generally done by sellers.
Apart from the aforementioned disclosures, there isn’t anything that sellers in Massachusetts are obligated to reveal about their property to buyers. However, if asked about something specific, sellers are required by law to answer truthfully. The regulations don’t say too much about exactly how much information is considered adequate, but it’s advisable to reveal whatever you know to the best of your knowledge.
Most of this information exchange between buyers and sellers occurs through a purchase and sale agreement. Any additional details about queries from the buyers and responses therein are inserted as an addendum.
Given that Massachusetts is a “buyer beware” state, buyers generally have an inspection performed on the property as a condition of the sale. The results of this inspection are used to pose questions to homeowners about specific aspects of the property.
Since the state of Massachusetts puts the onus on sellers to disclose information honestly, it helps to have the guidance of a local real estate agent. Agents are aware not just of the laws, but also precedents that have been set from previous deals that have been made in the area. They can also assist with negotiations, which is essential to get right so you can justify your asking price.
Clever Partner Agents are well-versed with the disclosure regulations in their individual cities. Every agent is an expert in the local market, having helped hundreds of sellers get the best possible prices on their homes.
Sellers in Massachusetts can start with a no-commitment engagement with a top-ranked local real estate agent. You’ll be connected with a Clever Partner Agent who will create a comparative market analysis, a net sheet showing how much you can make on your home, and a marketing plan to get you there. If your home sells, you pay a flat fee of $3,000 or 1% of the final price. Enter your zip code here to get started.