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3 Things You Must Legally Disclose When Selling in California

Sold Home For Sale Real Estate Sign and House
When you first purchased your home, you understood that you were taking on responsibility for the property. When you sell your home, your responsibility isn't necessarily terminated yet, even after all documents have been signed and certified.

When you list your home for sale, you must make certain information readily available to the new buyer, per California guidelines. Your failure to disclose the critical information could make you liable for damages the new buyer suffers, in the form of a personal suit. Liability to the new buyer extends even after the new buyer has moved in and is living in the home.

Ensure you know what details you must legally provide; here are a few of them.

1. Hazardous Threats

The overall safety of a property is an essential factor many homebuyers consider. A home with a known threat would likely be less appealing to a buyer than a home that doesn’t have inherent risks. To give buyers an accurate assessment of your house, you need to provide the buyer with information about any concerns with your house.

Have a professional inspect your house to uncover any hazards that you may or may not be aware of to stay on the safe side. The inspector should Include details about the presence of any lead-based paint, mold, and asbestos or any other toxic substances. You are also required to inform the buyer if the house was previously used to produce methamphetamines.

Notifying the buyer of the threats provides them with the opportunity to take the appropriate measures to safeguard themselves. When you fail to provide this information and the new owner is harmed by these hazards, you may be responsible for their damages, especially if you withheld information about threats you were aware of.

2. Death on the Property

Different people look at death in different ways, particularly when it comes to death in a house they will one day call home. Some people consider a death in a home an uncomfortable idea, but not as a factor that they can't live with. For other people, death creates a no-go type of situation.

California is one of only three states in the country that require sellers to notify a buyer if a death occurred in the home so that the person has an opportunity to determine if the factor is something they can move past. Keep in mind that all deaths need to be reported, even death by natural causes.

You are only required to go back three years when preparing the written disclosure, but if the buyer asks about deaths beyond the three-year period, you are required to disclose this information.

3. Earthquake Risks and Support

The most significant natural threat in California is earthquakes. Any person that plans to purchase a home in the state should already understand the risk, but as a seller, you are responsible for disclosing any details about the house that may place the property at an elevated earthquake risk, such as if the home is in a fault zone.

If you have experienced an earthquake in the house in the past and the property sustained damage that makes it more vulnerable in the event of a future earthquake, you are also required to provide this information to the buyer.

You may also need to include verification that the house's water heater has the appropriate protection straps to keep it in place during an earthquake, to avoid serious gas or electrical dangers.

California law is clear in that it requires sellers to disclose any information that could make a property less appealing, but sometimes the challenge is knowing exactly what information falls into this category. An attorney can assist you in the selling process. At Hassen & Associates, we will sit down with you to help you sell your property in compliance with the law. Contact us today.