Property Disclosures Debunked II

In 1962 Grandma Said The Basement Flooded

Grab your cup of coffee, or wine, depending on your mood, or what time of day it is. When your Realtor slaps the Ohio Residential Property Disclosure Form on the table, you realize selling Grandma’s homestead while she’s in the nursing home, may not be the walk in the park you envisioned. Sure, it’s a desirable home, in a fantastic locale with all of the major systems not only updated but serviced on time, but the fact that you have volunteered to be the “go-between” for Grandma and her Realtor is not as simple as placing a sign in the yard and discussing staging/marketing tactics.

Ohio’s Residential Property Disclosure Form is a form your Realtor is NOT required to assist in completing. In fact, it may be the one form your Realtor drops off and says, “I’ll pick it up when it is completed in its entirety.” We, as Realtors, suggest this form is read and completed very carefully. Better to disclose than to not disclose is my best advice.

In the case of Grandma’s basement, yes, that’s an event that needs to be disclosed. Within the verbiage of the Residential Property Disclosure Forms you’ll see that the majority of the questions only pertain to the last 5yrs. With, water intrusion, mold and hazardous materials, this is NOT the case. Any knowledge the seller may possess on these three topics MUST be disclosed.

Buyer Beware Passe?

You’ll often hear folks spout off the Latin term, “caveat emptor “or “buyer beware” in situations regarding real estate purchases. Given that this term was first put into place back in 1536, (imagine England Monarchy, complete with wigs and knickers), it may need some revamping. In Ohio, where the age of consumerism has fully taken hold, this doctrine ONLY applies to situations where the defect is easily observable or discoverable to potential buyers within the scope of a reasonable inspection, and of course the seller has not engaged in fraud by intentionally concealing the defect.

What does this mean from a seller’s perspective? Simply put, disclose. Homes are a reflection of our lives; they’ve all got scars, situations and stories to tell. Tell them. Did you have ripped off shingles when Ike rolled through in 2008 that resulted in water pooling under the flashing, causing ceiling damage? It’s all been repaired, covered and painted…..nevertheless, disclose it. Still curious? Google Czarnecki v. Basta (Cuyahoga Cty. 1996). A fantastic example of caveat emptor.

If you’re a buyer, my best advice is, don’t get so caught up on wall color, and how you’ll plan to place your furniture that you forget to walk through with your eyes wide open to any potential issues lurking. I always highly recommend a home inspection completed by a professional home inspector. The cost of a home inspection may easily end up being the best $400 (or in the ballpark) you have ever invested. If nothing else, you’ve spent $400 to become thoroughly educated on one of the largest purchases you’ll ever make. How can you go wrong?

Stay tuned for the 3rd and final installment of Property Disclosures; Undisclosed coming up soon. We’ll take a look at Material vs. Latent defects, as well as neighborhood conditions.