As a homeseller, you want to market your home in the most positive light. That’s why many people who sell property are concerned about what they must legally and ethically disclose. After all, a homeseller is right to be concerned that pointing out any defects in a house or condominium could have a negative impact on the potential sale of the property.
But disclosing defects to the buyer can actually facilitate a real estate transaction. If a seller is honest about a property’s flaws, he or she can avoid any potential legal conflicts with a buyer during the sale process or after closing.
In Wisconsin, the law requires that you divulge certain property flaws to potential buyers. Determining what you must disclose by law and what you do not need to tell home buyers can be a difficult process.
That’s why it is also good to get professional advice from a trusted local realtor. They will be well-informed about the laws regarding disclosure in Wisconsin and let you know about any municipal requirements that you may also have as a homeseller.
Here is our comprehensive guide to what you need to know about Wisconsin real estate seller disclosures.
Why Do I Need to Disclose My Property’s Flaws?
You do not have to disclose every single problem to prospective home buyers. But it is in your interest to let the buyer know about any major concerns. That can avoid any legal problems you have with the state’s disclosure laws and the potential of any court action by an unhappy home buyer.
In fact, the threat of a lawsuit after a home purchase is the reason more homesellers choose to conduct their own home inspections. These pre-sale home inspection helps sellers determine potential problems that may arise during negotiations and after the sale.
It also allows the seller to make any repairs beforehand. The best way to avoid a potential conflict with the home buyer is to communicate effectively. Once you are aware of potential problems that he or she needs to be aware of, you should inform the buyer. That way you avoid the chances of legal action against you after the sale.
What Must You Disclose?
The “Real Estate Condition Report” required by law in Wisconsin requires the seller to answer questions on the condition of the property being sold. It has several questions about any structural defects of the home. These can include the roof, foundation, electrical wiring, plumbing, or heating system.
You are required to answer each question by indicating whether or not you’re aware of any defects in each category that is listed. If you answer that you are aware of defects you must then explain in writing the details of the flaw.
You must also disclose how long you have lived at the home. If it is a condominium, you must provide contact information for the condo association and a statement of fees or assessments that may be owing.
Federal law also requires that you disclose information about lead-based paint in the home if it was built before 1978. You must also let potential homeowners know about any toxic materials in the home. These may include such materials as radon and asbestos. It may also include Urea Formaldehyde, an insulating product that can be found in older homes. Its toxicity dissipates over time, but it is still necessary to disclose it.
It is also in your interest to let the home buyer know if there has been significant water damage, even if it was fixed. And one of the most important disclosures involves any legal entanglements that the property may have. For example, if the property is subject to approval by an estate or probate, you should let the buyer know.
When Do Wisconsin Homesellers Need to Provide Disclosures?
The state law requires that sellers provide the full and completed real estate condition report to the buyer within ten days of an offer of purchase being accepted. You may want to talk to your realtor about providing a disclosure report even before the offer is made.
You can avoid potential problems if a buyer feels that he or she is fully aware of any problems with the property. Remember that you do not need to disclose every little thing. But focusing on the big issues is in your interest as a seller. By disclosing significant issues to a buyer early on, you avoid the potential of delaying the final purchase or even ending up in court.
Get Professional Advice
Home disclosures are an important legal requirement. They can protect you from potential lawsuits should a home buyer feel as though he or she was not informed about a major problem in the sale property. But knowing what to disclose and what may be too much information for the buyer is difficult to determine.
That’s why it’s best to speak to a Clever Partner Agent about what you must disclose and what you do not need to point out.
A professional Clever Partner Agent can walk you through all of the paperwork and help you with any questions that you have. Partner Agents are all full-service and they work with top-real estate agents in Texas, along with other 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.