What is a Seller’s Property Disclosure?

What is a Seller’s Property Disclosure?

In Florida, sellers must disclose any conditions or facts about the house or property they are selling that impact its value or desirability. The seller’s property disclosure is a form used for sellers to disclose all material information about the home they are selling. In Florida, sellers must disclose any conditions or facts about the house or its property that impact its value or desirability that others can’t see for themselves.

For example, whether flooding has ever damaged the property or if the roof is structurally sound. It’s crucial to receive and read over this document prior to closing as it will give you information about the property that you probably don’t already have and a home inspector can miss.

What Seller Disclosures Does Florida Law Require?

Every state has its own laws about what sellers need to disclose. In Florida, sellers must disclose any conditions or facts about the house or its property that impact its value or desirability that others can’t see for themselves.  Not doing so opens the seller up to liability and the risk of a lawsuit.  This also applies to the listing agent representing the seller.  They must disclose all material information that they know about the property that may have an impact on its value.

The Common Disclosure Form Used in Florida

The standard seller’s property disclosure form used by most Florida realtors gives sellers the opportunity to answer questions about the property by putting a checkmark for “yes,” “no,” or “don’t know”. Then, there are lines to provide any necessary explanations.

Some sections and question topics that you’ll encounter on the form include:

  • Any current or potential legal claims, complaints, or court proceedings that affect the property
  • Boundary disputes
  • Whether flood insurance is required
  • Drinking water source
  • History of sinkholes on the property
  • Zoning violations or restrictions
  • Presence of environmental hazards, including asbestos, lead, defective drywall, mold, etc.
  • Presence of environmentally sensitive areas on the property, such as mangroves or archeological sites
  • History of infestations or damage caused by termites, fungi, or other wood-destroying organisms
  • Any problems with the home structure, including the roof, plumbing, electrical wiring, and HVAC
  • Any problems with appliances included in the home purchase
  • Safety features of any pool or hot tub on the property
  • Homeowners’ association restrictions

Is There Anything Florida Sellers Don’t Have to Disclose?

Although Florida homeowners are expected to disclose a lot when selling their home, there are a few things they can keep to themselves. Under Florida Statutes 689.25, Florida sellers don’t have to disclose:

  • That a person infected with HIV or AIDS has lived on the property
  • That a murder, suicide, or death has occurred or is thought to have occurred on the property

As a buyer, you can always ask the seller about these issues. However, a seller isn’t legally obligated to disclose that information.

Why Does a Seller’s Disclosure Document Matter to Buyers?

A seller’s disclosure informs the buyer of any defects or problems with the home and the land. Many times a homeowners inspection does not identify all issues.  Buyers oftentimes must rely on the seller’s property disclosure to better understand what they are buying. Buyers can also use the disclosure document when negotiating the closing price or home repairs before purchase.

Why Does a Seller’s Disclosure Document Matter to Sellers?

Why would a seller want a buyer to know all of the bad things about their home? Well, in Florida sellers are legally required to disclose what they know. When done honestly, the disclosure protects sellers from future legal liability. For example, if a buyer knows ahead of time that the house floods and buys it anyway, they can’t turn around and blame the seller.  On the other hand, if the seller is aware of a termite infestation that is not disclosed, the seller can be held liable for damages in the future.

Final Thoughts on Seller’s Property Disclosure in Florida

When you’re buying a home, take care in reading the property disclosure. It contains a lot of useful information about the home that you’re purchasing. Discuss what you learn with your realtor. Together, you’ll need to decide if anything in there warrants walking away from the sale or if it can be used to negotiate the closing price.

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