Massachusetts Real Estate Disclosures

Massachusetts Real Estate Disclosures Are Vital to Understand.

In Real Estate, when in doubt, it is always better to disclose, disclose, disclose! There is no point in hiding things in Real Estate as it is very easy to end up in a nasty lawsuit.

Laws vary by state on what must be disclosed, but as a general rule, any material fact that could affect a property’s value should be disclosed to a buyer.

Buyers and sellers need to understand it is the Real Estate agent’s job to present everything they discover about a property.

Disclosure in real estate is a vital concept to grasp for Realtors.

For example, if a Realtor sees water coming into the basement of a home they are marketing, they sure better be letting any future buyers know about this problem.

If a Realtor is asked a direct question about a particular property, they must give an accurate and truthful answer to the best of their knowledge.

Understand Disclosure Laws in Your State

Additionally, a Realtor cannot try to avoid discovering the details of a suspected problem. Avoidance of an issue does not work as an excuse. Years ago, when I got into the Real Estate business, it used to be “let the buyer beware.” Now it is “let the seller and their Realtor beware.”

My position has always been if you have even the slightest question about whether or not to disclose something to potential buyers, avoid the potential for liability and tell all.

However, as an agent, you need to ensure you’re not voluntarily disclosing information that doesn’t need to be provided to a buyer.

For example, if you sell a house suspected of being haunted, you should not disclose that as it could potentially hurt the seller.

Likewise, you would not disclose that someone died in a house. There is a significant difference between when a buyer asks a question vs. volunteering information that hurts the seller’s position.

Real Estate Disclosure in Massachusetts Can Walk a Fine Line

As a recent Massachusetts lawsuit regarding secondhand cigarette smoke suggests, fine lines will always be on things that need to be disclosed.

Attorney Rich Vetstein of Framingham, Massachusetts, does a great job covering this story in his Real Estate law blog. You can read about it in Lawsuit over second smoke against Realtor raises a stink. Essentially the case is about a woman who suffers from asthma claiming that her agent failed to disclose that a heavy smoker lived downstairs.

When visiting the unit before her purchase, she was assured by the Realtor that the cigarette smell would go away once she painted and fixed up the place.

The case boiled down to the agent’s duty to disclose both defects within the property and off-site. According to Rich Vetstein, “The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has held that off-site physical conditions may require disclosure if the conditions are unknown and not readily observable by the buyer and if the existence of those conditions is of sufficient materiality to affect the habitability, use, or enjoyment of the property and, therefore, render the property substantially less desirable or valuable to the objectively reasonable buyer.”

Disclosing neighborhood issues Always Make Factual Statements to Consumers

Just reading that statement gives cause for concern. Is it any wonder why there are so many lawsuits in Real Estate?

Where do you draw the line when it comes to issues of those living around you? Every person’s interpretation of what is considered a nuisance is different.

Fortunately for this Realtor and more than likely for other Realtors in future cases, the jury decided that it was not reasonable for the agent to be responsible for the knowledge of a smoker in another unit.

The take-home message that might be missed, given that the Realtor won the case is never to make statements for which you are not 100% sure.

Final Thoughts

Realtors should always be wise about what comes out of their mouths. As someone who has been selling Real Estate in the Metrowest Massachusetts area for the last thirty-six years can attest, why make statements you can’t possibly know unless you are clairvoyant?

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The above Real Estate information on the Massachusetts Real Estate disclosure was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at or by phone at 508-625-0191. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for 36+ years.

Are you thinking of selling your home? I am passionate about real estate and love sharing my marketing expertise!

I service Real Estate Sales in the following Metrowest MA towns: Ashland, Bellingham, Douglas, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Natick, Northborough, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Southborough, Sutton, Wayland, Westborough, Whitinsville, Worcester, Upton, and Uxbridge MA.