As a seller, you probably will be asked to complete some version of a Seller’s Statement of Property Condition.
Sellers are not required to make any of these statements. Legal opinion is divided about whether these forms are a good idea for sellers. Many attorneys recommend that sellers not complete this form. Greater Boston Real Estate Board does not have its own form.
Yet several of the big, National real estate companies have developed their own version of this form and encourage agents to ask their seller-clients to complete them.
Benefit to the seller for disclosing something in writing.
As a seller, you are responsible for the behavior of your agent(s). This includes the person who is running your open house. If your agent tells a buyer something untrue about your house, it is on you. Therefore, putting your statement of condition out on the table helps to keep the record straight about what you know and don’t know about the property for sale.
If the seller fully discloses, the problem disclosed becomes a non-issue between the buyers and the sellers. Suppose there was a removed underground storage tank. If the presence and removal of the tank are noted on this form, the buyer (or buyer’s agent) has the responsibility to check that the removal permits are in order. On the other hand, were there no disclosure of a removed tank, the buyer’s inspector would be looking for signs of an underground tank. If found, any permit irregularity could be fodder for renegotiation.
If a seller completes the disclosure incorrectly, that seller is vulnerable to charges of willfully misrepresenting the property. (Whether the matter would prevail is a legal question beyond my scope.)
Consult your home repair records and don’t guess. Guessing can lead to charges of misrepresentation. Some mistakes on these forms happen when people forget what happened when they did home repairs. What if a contractor said he got permits, but they were never signed off on? What if the carpenter ant extermination in 1985 was forgotten about because it never happened again? What if the hot water heater was replaced in 2006, but the date written on the water heater looks more like 2008?
Get legal advice about whether a Seller’s Statement of Property Condition is in your interests.
Never guess at any item on this form. However, the more complete and accurate the form is, the better it is for you and for your future buyer.