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What should a property owner disclose to a buyer?

On Behalf of | Jul 31, 2020 | Real Estate Law |

When you move into your new home in an Irvine neighborhood, you do not want any surprises to emerge, particularly if they will cost you a lot of money to fix up. Some homeowners have unexpected encounters with vermin or leaky walls. It is the duty of a seller to disclose potential problems with a home to a buyer or risk legal consequences.

The exact requirements for property disclosure may vary by state to state, but there are generally some things about a home that any home buyer should know before making a purchase. Forbes describes what home sellers are legally liable to inform buyers about.

Lead paint in the home

Builders commonly used lead paint in homes before people widely understood the dangers of lead paint. According to federal law, parties to a home transaction must sign a lead paint disclosure if the home’s construction originates before 1978. It does not matter if the seller or previous owners had removed the lead paint from the home. However, the law does not require a seller to examine the home for lead paint if no lead paint is apparent.


Many states require sellers to notify buyers about pest problems in the home, which can include anything from termites to snakes to mice. Sometimes a property might have no pest problems but nearby or adjoining properties might have pest issues which can spill over into the home sooner or later. A seller should disclose that information as well.

Emotional defects

Not every state or community requires a seller to reveal “emotional defects,” but they may be important to know. An emotional defect is an event in a home like a violent crime such as a robbery or a murder that took place in the residence, or a tragic event like a suicide. Finding out about an event after the fact can be emotionally distressing, so it may help to ask before you purchase a home just in case.

Property drainage problems

Walking out into your backyard to find standing water can be a real problem. If a seller knows that a house has drainage problems, the seller should inform you about it. Such issues may involve water not draining from the front or backyards or flooding problems inside the house like in your basement. Sellers should also disclose if they had prior problems with drainage, even if they sought to correct it, since drainage repair problems might not always hold up.



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