The same way most state laws vary, California has specific real estate disclosure laws that need to be upheld. These disclosure laws apply to nearly all California home sellers and are important to know to legally sell a house in the state.
Real estate seller disclosure laws hold sellers legally responsible for openness and honesty when disclosing information about a property’s condition.
The consequences of breaking these laws?
Sellers can be sued for hiding problems or defects that buyers find themselves after a home purchase.
Disclosure laws make sure the buyers know as much as possible about a property before making the decision to buy it, placing extra protections on the buyer in the home-selling process.
The laws even help buyers craft their purchase offer as they compile information on potential repairs or upgrades they might need to calculate in the purchase price.
In this article, we will go over what a seller needs to disclose when selling a home in California and finish it off with a checklist of all the pertinent information that will need to be outlined!
What Does a Seller Need to Disclose?
Sellers need to disclose everything about the property from structural problems to deaths that have occurred on the property. Below, we dive into which disclosure documents need to be filled out along with what information they require you to disclose when selling a house in California.
Transfer Disclosure Statement
Sellers must complete the Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement(TDS) and provide it to the buyer before transferring the title.
The seller will check off pre-listed items that the property contains and include information on whether these items are broken or not. Some of these items can include:
- Swimming Pools
- Rain Gutters
- Fire alarms
- And anything else that came with the property.
You will also need to document structural additions and defects to the house. Examples of these include:
- Bedroom additions
- Structural Modifications
- Roof Leaks
- Holes and Erosion
Additional disclosures include the following. You will have to make note of whether
- The home is within 2 miles of an airport
- The home is within a protected conservancy
- The property and surrounding neighborhoods are zoned for specific purposes
- The property is affected by an industrial use facility
- The property has been used as a laboratory for methamphetamine production
- The home is smoke detector compliance
You will also have to disclose on any and all
- Property taxes
- Window security bars
- Lead-based paint hazards
Natural Hazard Disclosure Report/Statement
The other document you will have to fill out is the Natural Hazard Disclosure Report. This document includes several “yes/no” questions regarding information about the following:
- If the home is in a flood zone
- If the home is in an area of high fire risk
- If the home is in a designated wildlife area
- If the home is in an earthquake fault zones
You must also let a buyer know information regarding the location of registered sex offenders in your area. Additional disclosure statements might be required depending on the location and details of your real estate transaction. Your local real estate agent or escrow provider can help you determine whether any additional disclosures are required.
California Real Estate Disclosure Checklist
To wrap it all up, we have packed a Real Estate Disclosure Checklist for you so you can carry a cheat sheet about the California disclosure laws when selling a house. Download it and share with friends who have questions about real estate disclosure laws! DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY HERE!
Consequences When You Fail to Disclose
Failing to disclose obvious information about your property or home’s condition will land you in a great deal of trouble with the law. If you refuse to disclose certain information, you could be liable for damages the buyer suffers as a result. These liabilities can rack up in the thousands, leaving you financially burdened because of a lack of disclosure. Sellers can protect themselves against legal action with a Seller Protection Plan from New Venture Escrow. Our Errors and Omissions policy protects sellers for a duration of six months after the close of escrow. CLICK HERE for more details on how to stay safe!
According to real estate disclosure laws, sellers cannot omit information, falsify information, or manipulate information. If so, they will be held liable for their omission to the full extent of the damages caused by the lack of disclosure.
Get Your Documents in Order
When purchasing a new home, all of the legal responsibilities and documents that circulate endlessly can be stressful to deal with. In the 30-40 day process, you will go through gathering documents and checking off everything that needs to get done in order to stay in compliance. It helps to have an escrow service provider to keep everything running as smoothly as possible.
Reach out to one of our escrow agents to learn about your choice in choosing an escrow service that makes your home selling process easier. If you need more information on how escrow works when selling a home, check out our additional resources here!