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Getting the “Real Scoop” on the Houses You Are Looking At

Everyone wants to make sure the car they buy is not a lemon, and that is doubly true when it comes to buying a house. If you are buying a pre-owned home, you can only hope that all of the previous owners before you took care of the house, using the proper methods. To set your mind at ease, and to make sure you are not getting a bad deal, home inspections, seller disclosure requirements and the agents experience will all help to safeguard you. Disclosure laws vary by state, but in some states the law requires the seller to complete a real estate transfer disclosure statement. The following are some items you can expect to see on a disclosure form.

  • Range oven, microwave, dishwasher, garbage disposal, and trash compactor.


  • Safety features- burglar and fire alarms, smoke detectors, sprinklers, security gate, window screens and intercom.


  • TV antenna, satellite dish, carport or garage, automatic garage door opener, rain gutters, sump pump.


  • Amenities such as pool or spa, patio or deck, built in barbecue and fireplaces.


  • Type of heating, condition of electrical wiring, gas supply, and presence of any external power source, such as solar panels.


  • The type of water heater, water supply, sewer system or septic tank.
Sellers are also required to indicate any significant defects or malfunctions existing in the home’s major systems. The checklist specifies interior and exterior walls, ceilings, roof, insulation, windows, fences, driveways, sidewalks, floors, doors, foundation and electrical and plumbing systems.

The form also requires sellers to note the presence of environmental hazards, walls or fences shared with adjoining landowners, any encroachments or easements, room additions or repairs made without the necessary permits or not in compliance with building codes, zoning violations, citations against the property and any lawsuits against the seller affecting the property.

Make sure to look for or ask about settling, sliding or soil problems, flooding or drainage problems and any major damage resulting from earthquakes, floods or landslides.

If you are looking to buy a condominium you should be informed about code and deed restrictions.

The amount a seller is required to disclose about defects has broadened significantly over the years. It helps to protect the buyer from buying a cosmetically good-looking house that is a potential money pit. But even with all the forms and laws in place, make sure to ask a lot of questions. Especially if you are unclear about something, or if your concern was not addressed on the forms provided to you.


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