Ask the Expert - August 2020

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Real Estate

When selling my home, what kind of things should I be disclosing to potential buyers?

When in doubt, disclose. When filling out seller disclosures, I would recommend to disclose anything and everything that has happened at your home in the time that you have lived there, and beyond if possible. A full disclosure saves you from future liability and headaches. Everything including simple leaks, diseased trees that you have had to treat or remove, mice or ants in the house, etc.

A few years back I was about to close on a home in North Oaks that was selling for about a million dollars. The sellers had a mouse in the house when they had first moved in & had then hired a pest control company to make sure that they didn’t have more. When the buyer walked through the home for their walk through prior to closing, they found a few mouse droppings under the stairs after the sellers had moved their furniture out. The buyer threatened to not close on the home because the sellers had not disclosed this information. On the Minnesota Seller Disclosures for residential real estate, it asks if you have had any pest infestations. Now certainly one or 2 mice is not a pest infestation, but to be safe, it is best to say if you had occasional mice, wasp nests, a bat in the attic, etc. That way, no one is coming back to say that you never told them about it.

How do buyers find out if you are keeping any secrets or not disclosing information? The number one way that buyers find out information is from their new neighbors that live close to the home that they just purchased. Neighbors seem to love to share stories about when the sellers had that leak in their skylight or when the basement got water in it from a big rain or that time the bathtub overflowed.

When filling out a disclosure, it is best to give the approximate date that something happened, the event/issue and then what you have done to remedy the situation. Forgot something on the disclosure? Fill out an amendment to your disclosure or have your agent relay the information in writing and get confirmation the buyers have gotten the message.

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