In a Real Estate Contract ... When In Doubt Disclose
What might be noise to some ears is music to others. That includes kids at play – some people chuckle at the sound while others groan. If you have rambunctious young neighbors with particularly noisy roosters ... should you disclose it to a prospective Buyer? You don’t know what your Buyer’s reaction may be so we believe you should disclose all such tranquility anomalies.
We are asked on a regular basis what should be disclosed. It is human nature to want to rely on the “Caveat Emptor” philosophy used for many years in our business- that is, “Buyer Beware”. That philosophy was extinguished with the litigation frenzy of the eighties. It is now law that you complete a Seller’s Real Property Disclosure Statement as a part of the sale of your home in the State of Nevada, and that Statement is the basis for many lawsuits when Sellers withhold or misstate pertinent items that affect the quiet enjoyment, safety, or value of the property.
Not everything is legally required to be disclosed, but from a moral standpoint you can save a lot of grief if you make the facts known anyway. Things that can be “forgotten” in a Disclosure Statement include incessant barking dogs next door, a neighbor or neighborhood dispute of some kind, frequent septic problems, a known sex offender living nearby if you know about it, water that migrates on your property from a neighbor, hard water, clay soil, insufficient insulation, one shower goes cold when somebody gets in the other one, the breaker blows when you plug in the toaster, the kids cut across your lawn on the way home from school, the deer eat your flowers, you have water rights but the conveyance ditch doesn’t serve your property any more, the neighbor sunbathes au naturel, etc. There are any number of things that might not bother you but could be bothersome to a new Buyer.
It is important to note that in Nevada it is not necessary to disclose if there was a death in the home. It is also not necessary to disclose if the home is haunted. It is, however, required to disclose if there was a meth lab on the premises. Other states have different laws on these matters, but when you buy in Nevada you buy under Nevada law. Disclosures have less impact on a transaction than is initially perceived. Unless there is something particularly offensive that isn’t readily apparent, most Buyers will rationalize around a negative disclosure item in their effort to buy something they really want.
Our Advice: When in doubt … disclose! If you lose a sale because of a disclosure then you can take comfort in the fact that you probably didn’t lose a sale, rather you prevented a lawsuit. If the matter was important enough to the Buyer to cancel an escrow then you surely would have had future problems when they discovered the problem for themselves. Quite often the Buyer is arranging furniture in their mind and not really listening to something you are saying. Put your Buyer’s hat on and disclose what you would want them to disclose to you. Honesty is the best policy. Buyers generally appreciate an honest Seller and if there is a “sticking point” in another part of the transaction your candor here could help the resolution of the other matter.
Think of disclosure like a marriage – everything is great going in, but things will be looked at differently when it comes time for the divorce, or, in real estate, the lawsuit. Cover yourself up front. Disclose, Disclose, Disclose!
When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs ... Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel and Jim Valentine, CDPE, SFR, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, 775-781-5472 firstname.lastname@example.org, www.carsonvalleyland.com
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