If you’re thinking about selling your Montana home, you’re probably wondering just how much you have to tell potential buyers about the property. Here’s your guide to Montana real estate disclosure requirements.
Once you’ve owned a home long enough, you’ve probably noticed a few things that are wrong with it. Some of these things may be minor, while others could be more serious.
So, how much do you have to tell prospective buyers about what’s wrong with the property?
Well, that depends on what state you live in. Before you list your home, you should understand the disclosure requirements in your state.
Montana sellers are in luck — Montana’s disclosure requirements are more relaxed than the requirements in most other states. However, there are still some things Montana sellers need to know.
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Montana Disclosure Requirements
If you’re selling your house in Montana, you need to understand the state’s disclosure requirements. Every property seller is looking for the right balance between too much and not enough disclosure of defects.
Montana is a "non-disclosure state," but that doesn’t mean what most people assume it means. Montana property sellers still have to make some disclosure to prospective buyers.
Montana law requires very few mandatory disclosures. For this reason, most buyers in Montana are likely to insist on a closing date that allows ample time for home inspections and repairs.
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Required Disclosures for Real Estate Agents
Even if you aren’t required to make a particular disclosure, your real estate agent might be. Montana law requires sellers’ agents to disclose material and relevant information about conditions that are known or discoverable by the seller.
Sellers’ agents are required to disclose any adverse material facts they know about the property. "Adverse material facts" are facts that could materially affect property value. This includes issues like health risks, structural integrity, and infestations.
Real estate agents are also required to disclose if they have personal knowledge regarding the truthfulness of disclosures made about adverse material facts. Sellers’ agents aren’t, however, required to verify information given by the seller or inspect the property.
Other Required Disclosures
Although Montana has relatively relaxed disclosure requirements, sellers still may encounter mandated disclosures.
Four areas where you may encounter disclosure requirements are: (1) lead paint disclosures; (2) fiduciary relationships between the seller and buyer; (3) the seller is aware of health and/or safety risks; and (4) direct questions.
Federal law requires lead paint disclosure. All home sellers are required to fill out a lead paint disclosure form, no matter what state they’re located in.
Sellers who have a fiduciary relationship with their prospective buyers have additional disclosure requirements. A "fiduciary relationship" means one person has a legal duty to act in the best interest of another person, like in an attorney-client or doctor-patient relationship.
There are a number of different types of fiduciary relationships, with different requirements. If you have any questions about whether a fiduciary relationship exists or what kind of information needs to be disclosed to a prospective buyer, talk to a local real estate agent or a real estate attorney.
Health and Safety Risks
If you know of any issues with your property that could harm another person, you have to disclose that information. Common examples of potentially dangerous risks include things like black mold, asbestos, or weak spots in flooring. If a person is injured because of a problem you knew about but didn’t disclose, you could be held liable for the injuries.
Direct Question from the Buyer
You always have to be honest with prospective buyers. "I don’t know" is an acceptable answer, but only if you really don’t know the answer to a question. If a potential buyer asks you a question about your property, you have to be honest. If you lie to a buyer and they find out, they could sue you for damages or have the sale voided.
Talk to an Expert
Determining what disclosures have to be made to potential buyers is a complex and important task. Real estate agents are experts in what types of disclosures buyers in their state have to make. Your realtor should be able to walk you through the disclosure process and recommend a property lawyer if necessary.
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