What Does a Property Seller Need to Disclose?
In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, like most states, the seller of residential property is required by law to make certain mandatory disclosures to a buyer. If a seller fails to disclose defects that should have been disclosed the seller could end up being held liable for the cost of the repairs as well as other consequential damages related to the failure to disclose. Whether you are a seller or a buyer, you need to know the answer to the question “What does a property seller need to disclose in Pennsylvania?”
Pennsylvania law requires a seller to disclose “all known material defects about property being sold that are not readily observable.” Disclosure must occur prior to the sale being completed so that a potential buyer has the opportunity to back out of the deal if the defects or issues are too extensive or too costly for the buyer to handle. In order for a seller to know what does, and what does not, need to be disclosed it is necessary to know how the law defines the term “material defect.” In Pennsylvania, a material defect is “a problem with the property or any portion of it that would have a significant adverse impact on the value of the residential real property or that involves an unreasonable risk to people on the land.”
The best way to be certain that you have disclosed everything required to be disclosed if you are a seller is to consult with an experienced Pennsylvania real estate attorney; however, the following are some common areas that are included on a standard disclosure statement :
- Roof – has the roof been replaced recently? Are there any known leaks? Are there any known problems with gutter or downspouts?
- Basement or crawl space – is there a sump pump? Has there been any flooding? Any known water leakage? Is there any dampness or water accumulation?
- Structure – have any repairs been made to the foundation? Are there any hidden cracks or areas where it appears to be shifting or moving? Has there been any water leakage? Have there been any problems with walls, foundation, or structure of the property?
- Insects – termites, dry rot or other insects that could threaten the home’s stability
- Water and Sewage – is there a well? If so, has thee water been tested recently? Have there been any problems with the sewage pump? Have there been any leaks or backups of the system?
- Major systems – plumbing, HVAC, electrical. How old are the systems? Have they been maintained? Have there been any major problems?
- Land – does the property drain properly? Is there any fill or expansive soil on the property? Is the property close to an abandon mine? Are there any easements or encroachments on the property?
As a general rule it is better for a seller to disclose than not to disclose if it is not clear whether disclosure is required. By doing so the seller avoids exposure to a lawsuit for non-disclosure and the cost of repairs and damages should a buyer be successful in the lawsuit.
If you are unsure what you need to disclose as a seller, or you are a buyer who purchased a property and feel you have the basis for a lawsuit based on the seller’s failure to disclose, contact the Pennsylvania real estate law attorneys at Curley & Rothman, LLC by calling 610-834-8819 today to schedule your consultation and discuss your options.