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!
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.
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.
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
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