You've done some preliminary packing, staged the house, and talked over all the details with your real estate agent. You put your home on the market. Within days, you have an offer! While this is an exciting time for any seller, one of the biggest, and very important, questions that often follows is:
What defects in my home, if any, do I need to disclose?
Disclosures and obligations pertaining to them are something all home sellers should be well-informed about. For the answer to this question, we turn to our friends over at Vesta Settlements.
Firstly, be aware that in the state of Virginia, it is a buyer's responsibility to protect themselves and practice due diligence during and transaction. "A buyer must discover for herself the true nature of the condition of a property in Virginia and make use of the means at hand to conduct thorough due diligence. In general, the law will not protect a buyer if a buyer does not take steps to protect themselves," according to Keith Barrett, Esquire and President at Vesta Settlements.
That said, all sellers are required to provide what is known as a "Residential Property Disclosure Statement". "The disclosure is actually a disclaimer," says Keith. "The first provision of which states that the 'owner(s) of the residential real property makes no representations or warranties as to the condition of the real property or any improvements thereon. . .' A seller actually disclaims making any statement or disclosure about the condition of their property."
Your real estate agent's obligation is slightly different. "A Listing Agent’s obligation is to disclose all material, adverse, facts, pertaining to the physical condition of the property of which they have actual knowledge," says Keith. "But make no mistake, the bar is set high to trigger a Listing Agent’s disclosure. All of the above elements (material, adverse, fact, physical condition of property and actual knowledge) must be met."
So the bottom line is this: "A seller may not frustrate or impede a buyer’s ability to discover for themselves the true condition of a home." As a seller, you need not point out every bump and scratch, but if your buyer wants to search high and low for them, that's their prerogative. At the end of the day, you'll want to be sure you communicate thoroughly with your agent and trust them to do their due diligence throughout the transaction - and steer you in the right direction so that you're able to do the same.
All MRE | AP agents are licensed REALTORS® and subscribe to NAR's strict Code of Ethics, which is based on honesty, professionalism and the protection of the public. We fully support and operate in accordance with The Fair Housing Act.