Are agents responsible for disclosing material facts?
They can certainly be held accountable, particularly if they had prior knowledge of a material fact or should have known about it.
For example, if the seller has to use pans to collect water after a heavy rain, it is the agent’s responsibility to question the seller about the integrity of the roof, and then relay this information to potential buyers. However, if the seller duly hides a defect from the agent for which the agent had no prior knowledge, then the agent is not accountable.
Experts say agents are not home inspectors, but they are expected to use their best judgement when something appears suspicious.
Do I have to disclose information about my home?
Disclosure could protect you from a lawsuit. Today, home sellers in most states must now fill out a form disclosing material facts about their homes. Material facts are details about the home’s condition or legal status, as well as the age of various components.
If your state does not require a written disclosure, the real estate laws probably require sellers to disclose any known problems with the home they are selling.
What kinds of things are considered material facts?
The following examples include details that would qualify as material facts that must be revealed by sellers about their homes:
- Damage from wood boring insects
- Mold or mildew in the home
- Leaks in the roof or foundation walls
- Amount of property taxes paid annually
- Problems with sewer or septic systems
- Age of shingles and other roof components
- A buried oil tank
- Details about any individual who claims to have an interest in the property
- Information about a structure on the property that overlaps an adjacent property
Some things are not material facts and do not have to be disclosed. They include personal information about the seller and the seller’s reason for moving.
Among those things that may or may not be material facts: whether a death took place in the home or whether a home is considered haunted.