Litchfield County real estate information, local events and more.

head_left_image

I refuse to answer on the grounds it may incriminate me!

In Connecticut those pesky Property Condition Disclosure Reports can come back to haunt you!

What the heck am I talking about? When you are selling your home in Connecticut there is a form called a "Property Condition Disclosure Report". As the owner of the property you must fill it out to the best of your ability and provide it to the potential buyer before they make an offer. Many times a buyer will base their offer price on what is in the report.

You can elect not to fill one out but you will be writing out a check at the closing for $500!

If you do decide not to provide one it will only serve to worry a buyer, rather like someone who is on trial who says "I refuse to answer on the grounds it may incriminate me". They may feel the $500 isn't worth the secrets they are sure you are hiding!

property condition disclosure report

I am not allowed to fill it out for you. I don't live in the house, I don't know anything about it. But it's not rocket science, it's not that difficult to do. 

For the most part there are 3 answers for each question.

  • Yes
  • No
  • Unknown

If you know there is an issue with something, of course the answer is yes and you can provide an explanation. Basement Water/Seepage/Dampness problems? If yes, explain amount, frequency and location. You check off yes, no or unknown. If the answer is yes, you need to explain what the issue is or was and any steps taken to address the issue.

Why should you bother to tell anyone about these things? Because the property condition disclosure survives the closing. Because if the buyer moves in and 2 days later the basement floods, they call someone in clean up the mess and the do gooder neighbor comes over and says... "this happened the last rain we had, Bob had a heck of a time cleaning up after".

Guess who will be on their phone to their attorney to find out what recourse they have against you? And there is that Property Condition Disclosure Report, in all its glory, saying there were no water issues in the basement. After all, it survives the closing as attorneys love to point out!

Buyers should NOT rely on the Property Condition Disclosure Report in place of a home inspection by a licensed home inspector, but they often use it in their decision making process before making an offer. 

Uh oh.. something happened at the house... the hot water heater blew and you had to replace it. Yes, you should fill out a new form and note this.

As a real estate agent I am required to tell a potential buyer of any material defects with the property I am aware of, I can't plead the 5th. I know, you think if you don't tell me, I won't ever know! I have had this happen before.

A buyer came along, did home inspections, the inspector found a defect the buyer was not willing to deal with and the buyer walked. The buyers agent conveniently sent me the FULL home inspection and I now knew everything that was wrong with the house. You may not want to tell anyone, but by law I have to. So you might as well change the disclosures to reveal what you already knew. Or what you now know... either way I would have to tell the next buyer whether you choose to or not!

Of course there may be things you are unaware of and the report does note this. You cannot tell what you honestly don't know about.

Check out the Connecticut State Statutes regarding Property Condition Disclosure Reports here.

As a side note, I don't like to have a seller sign an offer without the buyer signing the Property Condition Disclosure Report and submitting it back to me with the offer. I have seen it happen that the buyers agent was given the report and kept saying he would get it to listing agent but never did.

At the closing table the buyer demanded the $500 from the seller, denying they ever received the disclosures for review. Good thing the listing agent had a trail of emails she provided to the attorneys to prove the buyers agent had been provided with the disclosures prior to the offer being made, and repeated requests for the disclosures signed by the buyer. The buyers agent had stated in an email they would bring them to the closing.

This was nothing more than an attempt by the buyer to extort $500 from the seller, but it didn't work. It could have been avoided by the seller refusing to sign the offer to purchase until they had the disclosures back signed by the buyer.

Don't plead the 5th when selling your home in Litchfield County, CT. Fill out those pesky Property Condition Disclosure Reports to the best of your ability and keep them updated! It will only benefit you in the long run.

Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County Real Estate

2017 President, Greater New Milford Board of Realtors

2017 Connecticut Magazine 5 Star Realtor

 

 Search homes for sale in Litchfield County, CT.

 

Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

Litchfield County Regional Office,375 Danbury Rd, New Milford, CT 06776

 

© Andrea Swiedler 2009 - 2017

 Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest. - Mark Twain

Comment balloon 40 commentsAndrea Swiedler • September 24 2013 05:31PM

Comments

Good evening Andrea. And here I thought it was I refuse to answer on the ground it may ELIMINATE me. Gosh! I'm glad you set the record straight! - LOL

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) almost 6 years ago

WE have a simalar disclosure but there is no pentalty for not doing it.  But, we also have a waiver if any buyer is foolish enough to sign it.  WE can also give a formal inspection report, but if the inspector misses something, you are still required to disclose it.

Posted by William Feela, Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No. (WHISPERING PINES REALTY) almost 6 years ago

Sellers in Maryland have a choice to sign either the disclosure or the disclaimer.

Posted by Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland, Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome ( HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400) almost 6 years ago

Andrea, we have seller's disclosures in GA too, but there are still some that don't provide it.

Posted by Kathy Sheehan, Senior Loan Officer (Bay Equity, LLC 770-634-4021) almost 6 years ago

In Indiana Real Estate Law every Seller has to complete the form, even an Investor.  While an Investor hasn't actually lived in the home they know some things about it.

Posted by Evelyn Johnston, The People You Know, Like and Trust! (Friends & Neighbors Real Estate) almost 6 years ago

Here in New York city we have a similar disclosure requirement-  At the end of the day its always a good idea for the buyer to get an inspection on the subject property.

Posted by Michele Cadogan-Cell 917-861-9166, Licensed Real Estate Associate Broker - (Fillmore Real Estate 2990 Av U, Bklyn , NY 11229) almost 6 years ago

There is always something driving us as realtors to the court room so that lawyers can make money. It is always get the realtor and in this case if the buyer broker was negligent than go get him.

Posted by Jimmy Faulkner, The Best Of St. Augustine (Florida. Homes Realty & Mortgage) almost 6 years ago

Andrea, not telling the truth only has one end result ..... a bad one.   Everyone needs to disclose, it is the honest thing, it is the right thing.

Posted by George Souto, Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert (George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages) almost 6 years ago

Michael, LOL, you made me go and check the title again! Never would I eliminate you!

Bill, we don't have a waiver here. We have two choices, fill it out or pay up!

Margaret, funny how we all have different laws. Makes it confusing for those who are moving here from other states.

Kathy, do they pay the buyer money for not providing one?

Evelyn, we have exceptions. But it is foolish if you never lived in the home to have to provide one.

Michele, buyers should never use them in place of an inspection, ever.

Jimmy, boy you said a mouthful! And the list grows... daily...

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) almost 6 years ago

George, not telling the truth will certainly come back to haunt you... and your agent...

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) almost 6 years ago

In NJ, a homeowner who misrepresents his/her home OR fails to disclose known defects is legally liable for damagers. Ditto a real estate agent who does the same. 

Posted by Wayne and Jean Marie Zuhl, The Last Names You'll Ever Need in Real Estate (Samsel & Associates) almost 6 years ago

Interesting requirement as a Buy should and most like will get a home inspection.  Does the home inspector have access to the disclosure from?

Posted by Ira Bodenstein, NMLS#: 445143 (PNC Mortgage) almost 6 years ago

Good article, Andrea.  We don't have the $500 dollar option in Arizona, but a lot of sellers seem get away with not doing this -- "never lived in the home", foreclosre, etc.

Posted by Elise Harron, Rural Vacant Land and Development Specialist (Dirt Road Real Estate) almost 6 years ago
We don't have a monetary penalty in Texas for failing to fill out a sellers disclosure. However, it is required in the sales contract unless it is a foreclosure or new construction. If seller doesn't deliver the form to buyer in an agreed upon period of time, the buyer can terminate the contract and get the earnest money deposit back.
Posted by Rosie Moore (Serving Sugar Land, Richmond, Rosenberg, Missouri City) almost 6 years ago

Andrea we don't have a requirement that they MUST fill out a Property Disclosure Statement but it is in our contract and spelled out clearly.  It must be 'waived' out of the contract. Many flippers have pleaded the 5th this past few years and it's so ridiculous as we know they have knowledge of the property condition and/or anything that's been done to it since they purchased it and their associates know about the condition.  I think at some point there will be some law suits due to non-disclosure and some of them are licensed agents - major red flag.

Posted by Anna Banana Kruchten CRB, CRS 602-380-4886, Arizona's Top Banana! (Phoenix Property Shoppe) almost 6 years ago

Yep, I've seen the comment, "Property has not ever been inhabited by property owner."  Obviously they are hoping to dodge a bullet with that comment.  Still, property owners often have knowledge of problems with homes they rent out, simply because the tenants let them know when things are working properly, etc.  Your blog points out another very reason that home inspections are so important for buyers to obtain. 

Posted by Myrl Jeffcoat, Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent (GreatWest Realty) almost 6 years ago

Andrea, we have disclosures in Colorado and probably the one place I get on my soap box with my sellers is "over disclose, over disclose, over disclose".  No matter what if you know something please disclose you know it, what happened and then what. It seems to make them uncomfortable sometimes but to the point that I think they are thorough in filling them out.  We are not required to provide them but if done, be careful and thorough.

Posted by Kelly Young, Colorado Springs Real Estate ~ 719-226-0126 (The Platinum Group Realtors) almost 6 years ago

What happens with bank owned properties?  Does the bank have to pay the $500?  Our "disclosure statement" has a "I don't know" box to check for every quesiton and some sellers use that answer a LOT.

Posted by Tammy Lankford,, Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville (Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668) almost 6 years ago

Andrea, so often sellers don't get that "Don't ask.  Don'tell" does't work for selling your house.  Nobody every got sued for disclosing a flaw.  

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) almost 6 years ago

I think the best way to perform due dilgience for the buyer is for them to have the home inspected.  The disclosure is whatever the seller wants it to be.  They could put 'unknown" on something, that they may actually know.  But how do you prove knowledge?!?  You can't.  

Posted by Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED (RETIRED / State License is Inactive) almost 6 years ago

Andrea

Interesting how different things are regarding disclosures. I think the best approach, while taking into account what the seller says, is a full home inspection. Getting a disclosure should not relieve the buyer of the responsibility for those own due diligence.

Here is CA we have a statutory disclosure for residential properties of 1 - 4 units. There are some exceptions, but for the most part it must be completed by the seller. Here in SoCal we normally don't get these until the offer has been accepted. Not true in other parts of the state

Jeff

Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (Solutions Real Estate ) almost 6 years ago

We have the option for sellers to complete the disclosure or pay the $500. I'll bet 95% pay the $500 in lieu of completing the form.

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (406-270-3667 (MT), 914-419-0270 (NY), Broker in NY with Grand Lux Realty and in MT with (coming soon!)) almost 6 years ago

Wayne & Jean, it is not a good idea, no matter where you live and what the laws may be, to hide known defects. Seller, agents alike.

Ira, if he or she chooses to look at it. There is no restriction. Most of the time they don't want it.

Elise, thank you. The $500 fee to the buyer seems to have most people doing them.

Rosie, foreclosures and new construction, as with other situations, are exempt here too.

Anna Banana, red flag indeed as we are bound to disclose material facts we know about the house. At least here we are!

Myrl, I just sold a property where the woman who had power of attorney for the owner (who was incapacitaed) filled out the most complete disclosure I have EVER seen! She took it very, very seriously. And she has never lived in the house but she got all the information she could.

Kelly, I agree, over disclose!

Tammy, no they are not required to do so. And here is the same, many home owners use that check box too.

Pat, sometimes you get that feeling where you just know there is something you are not being told. And it all comes out in the wash. Of course sometimes it leaves a big stain...

Carla, buyers often base an offer price on the disclosure. But it is no substitute for a home inspection.

Jeff, we have the same, 1-4 units on residential properties. Here you are supposed to provide it to a buyer before they make an offer.

Kat, not many here will pick to pay $500 to the buyer. And it really sends up a red flag to buyers when there are no disclosures.

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) almost 6 years ago

Super post.  I think I heard that here in NY, many just pay the $500...and I think the major reason is due not being able to know if there is an oil tank below or something...for older properties.  Some houses here are very old and hard to determine all this stuff as title transfer wasn't as complete as it now is.

Posted by Women of Westchester Working Together, Women helping Women get ahead (Women of Westchester Working Together) almost 6 years ago

What you do in Connecticut is very similar to what we do in North Carolina. I do put the "fear of God" into my clients about telling the truth and remind them that clicking on "no representation" on a home where they've been living does not protect them if an issue arises. But I do sit down with each client and go through the questions one by one to make sure they are being totally above-board as possible with representations.

Posted by Nina Hollander, Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage ) almost 6 years ago

Andrea,

I believe in disclosures, but like Ronald Regan, I also trust, but verify. I find that $500 provision interesting.

Rich

 

Posted by Richard Iarossi, Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) almost 6 years ago

Why would anyone try to NOT expose? How could you get away with such a thing? Sleepless nights await the perpetrator

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) almost 6 years ago

In New York, everyone just about automatically elects to spend the 500.00.

Posted by Jill Sackler, LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate (Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500) almost 6 years ago

What a great post ANdrea and those property disclosures are stick wickets for some...i love the fine though it really puts some muscle behind doing them.

Posted by Ginny Gorman, Homes for Sale in North Kingstown RI and beyond (RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate) almost 6 years ago

Andrea, i could not have said it better myself. Kudos on a great explanation for Sellers. Bookmarked and would suggest if not done already.

Posted by Helen and Larry Prier- Re-Max Gateway - Residential Real Estate, Anacortes & surrounding Skagit & Island Counties (RE-MAX Gateway- Residential Real Estate Sales) almost 6 years ago

Andrea  Sellers must fill them out in Pa unless they are an executor/executrix  or an administrator; but that too may be changing

Posted by Hannah Williams, Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-953-8818 (Re/Max Eastern inc.) almost 6 years ago

While many agents use the disclosure form here, it is not required....nor is the $500.00....sounds like a good idea!

Posted by Christine Smith, Exclusive Buyer Agent & Attorney, Canton, MA (Buyers Brokers Only LLC - www.BuyersBrokersOnly.com) almost 6 years ago

Really?  Only $500?  Some sellers would see that as a deal.  I would encourage my buyers to move on if the seller wouldn't provide it.

Posted by Jeanne Gregory, The most important home I sell is YOURS! (RE/MAX Southwest) almost 6 years ago

Andrea, those forms are issues waiting to happen for sure, and all the more reason to have an inspection by a qualified home inspector

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) almost 6 years ago

Andrea -- recent case here in Washington state - flipper, who was real estate agent, didn't disclose rotted siding that had been covered up in the remodel.  Though buyers had inspection - didn't realize extent of deterioration.  Tried to sue the seller, court said that since inspector had found some evidence of rotted wood - they should have done more inspection to determine full extent of it - and let the flipper off.

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) almost 6 years ago

Andrea, 

Very good blog post.  We tell all of our seller's to OVERDISCLOSE on anything they know.  It is just easier that way.  If it's already disclosed, it's less of an issue when it comes up in an inspection.  If they've hidden something that they should obviously know about and it comes up in an inspection, all the buyer will think is: "what else are they not telling me?"  

No home is perfect, but you will save yourself a lot of worries by disclosing it up front. 

I've even had neighbors who left items off a disclosure that I made them add, as if I know, it's got to be disclosed.  

All the best, Michelle

Posted by Michelle Francis, Realtor, Buckhead Atlanta Homes for Sale & Lease (Tim Francis Realty LLC) almost 6 years ago

Wow we don't have a fine for not providing our disclosure BUT if it isn't provided prior to contract ratifiation then we have a long paragraph in our contract regarding termination of the contract.

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) almost 6 years ago

That is a very underhanded buyer and agent to try to pretend that they did not receive the property disclosure.  I agree that I would have a policy of not providing an executed contract without the property disclosure included with all signatures in exchange.  Great post!

Posted by Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group) almost 6 years ago

I always encourage my seller's to fill out the seller's disclosure to the best of their knowledge and for their own best interest and protection. Honesty goes a long way. A buyer can't come back to haunt you if you disclose all you are aware of up front.  A home inspector cannot see behind walls and most have a disclaimer about that in their report. When foundation issues are apparant, I encourage my seller to get a structual egineer's report to aleviate home buyer worries. If the seller won't do it, the buyer's inspector should recommend it when it's beyond the scope of him training. We do not have any kind of $500.00 provision that seller's pay to buyer's at closing for not filling out a disclosure. I don't even really understand what that's for? Is it supposed to help the buyer pay for an inspection that they should get whether or not there was a disclosure?

In Missouri, agents, both seller and buyer agents, are responsible to disclosure defects that are known or should have been known. If a seller doesn't disclose a crack in the basement and I see it and know about it, I have to disclose it myself to all potential buyers and buyer's agents. I'm not required to make my own inspection of the property but I've been on enough home inspections to have a pretty good eye for the things that are right in front of my face.

Posted by Kalene Bagwell, Realtor - Selling Blue Springs - Kansas City Metro (Realty Executives Of Kansas City) almost 6 years ago

Andrea, Just wanted to let you know that I have you featured in my Last weeks Favorites. Good Job,

here is the link: http://activerain.com/blogsview/4181695/my-favorite-blog-posts-for-last-week-september-23rd-to-29th

Posted by Helen and Larry Prier- Re-Max Gateway - Residential Real Estate, Anacortes & surrounding Skagit & Island Counties (RE-MAX Gateway- Residential Real Estate Sales) almost 6 years ago

Participate