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Buyer's Guide - Full Disclosures...

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Guide to Full Disclosures


In 1984, a California Court of Appeals ruling in the case of Easton vs. Strassburger greatly extended the liability of real estate sales.  The property owner (home seller) is required to be aware of all the material facts that would negatively influence the value of his/her property.  The key here is ALL material facts.  This means whether the negative facts are obvious or whether the negative facts are not obvious.  Regardless of the situation, the property owner MUST disclose these facts to all prospective Home Buyers.  Much of California real estate law is designed to PROTECT THE BUYER!! 

As a result of the Easton vs. Strassburger case, California Real Estate Law now requires Sellers of residential property of ONE to FOUR units to provide a prospective Home Buyer with a Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement.  There are other valuable disclosure documents that would benefit the home seller to disclose - contact Access Real Estate for additional information!

The Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement identifies items of value attached to the structure of land, attached to the house itself as well as the exterior and interior of the house and states whether these items are operational or defected and in need of repair or replacement.  This form requires the property owner (home seller) to completely disclose any problems of any kind that might adversely affect the value of the property.  The obligation to prepare and deliver the Transfer Disclosure Statement is imposed upon the SELLER of the property.   

The following are just some of the wear and tear items a normal property experiences.  This is just an example of some of the disclosure items a property owner would need to report regarding operational status and defects as well as performed repairs or replacement any of these items.

  • Roof repairs,

  • Washer/dryer hookups,

  • Burglar alarm,

  • Animal Urine Smell,

  • Patio/Decking,

  • Pool equipment,

  • Child restraint barrier,

  • Microwave,

  • Garbage disposer,

  • Rain gutters,

  • Fire alarm,

  • Intercom,

  • Water softener,

  • Car port,

  • Hot tub equipment,

  • Sprinklers,

  • Smoke detectors,

  • Oven,

  • Range,

  • Dry rot,

  • Water damage,

  • Worn out air conditioner and furnace,

  • Moldy bathrooms,

  • Broken toilets,

  • Leaky toilets,

  • Broken kitchen cabinet doors and drawers,

  • Broken bathroom cabinet doors and drawers,

  • Broken bathroom or kitchen tile,

  • Broken dishwasher,

  • Broken stove/oven,

  • Rotted out fence,

  • Overgrown shrubs and trees,

  • Termite and other pest damage,

  • Interior wall damage,

  • Exterior wall damage,

  • Wall stains,

  • Interior door damage,

  • Exterior door damage,

  • Flaking exterior paint,

  • Holes in walls,

  • Worn out or leaky water heater,

  • Garage door damage,

  • Garage door opener damage,

  • Leaky faucets,

  • Worn out and stained carpets,

  • Torn or stained linoleum,

  • Damaged windows,

  • Ripped window and door screens,

  • Broken screen frames,

  • Overgrown front and backyard shrubs and trees,

  • Oil stains on the driveway and garage,

  • AND MORE, AND MORE, AND MORE…repair or replacement items you might not know about!

Remember…anything you can visually “see” as well as all the things you “can’t see” is subject to wear and tear and may need to be fixed or replaced may materially affect the value of the property being sold must be DISCLOSED! 

Additionally, the home seller must also be aware of any structural modification performed on the property, disclose any major damage to the property from flooding, drainage, fire, or earthquake.  Disclose any zoning violation of “setback” requirements.  And the list goes on, and on, and on.  For those disclosure items outside the actual property line of the home, a Natural Hazard Disclosure is obtained from recognized firms that specialize in gathering this type of data.

Recent legal decisions and new legislation provide that the Home Seller has a responsibility for revealing to the Home Buyer the true condition of the property.  The concept of selling a property "as is", with the buyer assuming all responsibility for determining the property condition, is not acceptable in the present marketplace.  The home seller must disclose the known condition of the property to the home buyer.  This information should be made available to the home buyer as soon as possible.

The "As Is" Purchase.

An "as is" home purchase is perfectly acceptable, as long as the buyer understands exactly what the "as is" condition entails. Thus, it can be said in the purchase agreement that the Home Buyer accepts the roof and the plumbing and the electrical system in their present condition and acknowledges that they have defects. This acknowledgement provides a defense for the home seller if it is later claimed he did not disclose the problem.  Finally...it is also the buyer's responsibility to perform all necessary inspections to fully satisfy the home buyer.  It is recommended the home buyer obtain at a minimum a professional home inspection.  Other valuable inspections are a roof, pest, and fireplace inspections.  Bear in mind that each property is different, so the uniqueness of each property would determine the type of inspections needed.  As always, consult with a real estate professional regarding this matter.



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