When making an offer on a house, one of the first things buyers get from the seller is a property disclosure. The specifics vary by state, but most states, including ours, require some type of seller disclosure. The goal is to add transparency to the transaction.

In this disclosure, a seller provides written information about known things that could impact the property’s value. While there are many different things a seller must disclose, I’m going to highlight three impactful items:

1. HOA information. If the home is located within a homeowners association, you should disclose that fact. Associations generally impose monthly fees on homeowners, and they can impose rules on their membership that a prospective buyer might or might not find acceptable. You also need to know about the HOA’s financial health and provide this information to the buyer so they can make an informed purchasing decision.

2. Lis Pendens. According to section 8.01-268 of the Code of Virginia, sellers must inform buyers if they have any knowledge of a lis pendens filed against their property. What is a lis pendens? You could translate this as a pending lawsuit or legal action, and it means that somebody is preparing to challenge the seller’s right to the property in court. If you are aware of a lis pendens against your property, the Real Estate Board helpfully provides a form to use in notifying potential buyers.

3. Federal seller’s disclosure requirement. If your home was built before 1978, federal law requires that you disclose that the property may produce exposure to lead from lead-based paint. It was federally banned for consumer use during that year. Sellers of homes built before 1978 must also provide buyers with an EPA pamphlet titled, “Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home.” Then they must give buyers 10 days to conduct a paint inspection or risk assessment for lead-based paint and include a “lead warning statement” in the contract.

The key thing to remember about disclosures is that when in doubt, disclose. Failing to disclose something you were aware of beforehand could lead to a messy legal situation.

If you have further questions about what you need to disclose when selling your home or anything else related to real estate, don’t hesitate to reach out via phone or email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.