What is a Massachusetts Seller’s Disclosure Statement?
The Massachusetts seller’s statement of property condition is a form that many Massachusetts Real Estate companies require their agents to have the seller sign.
Massachusetts, however, does not require these forms to be filled out as part of a Real Estate transaction, so it is up to the individual company to decide if they will use them or not.
Quite simply, the form details everything a homeowner may know about the property when they have owned it.
Within this form, you will find questions on everything from the lot and zoning to all the structural components in the home, including heat, electrical, plumbing, roof, etc.
It is no secret that in Real Estate, you are supposed to disclose anything you know about a property that could materially affect its value.
As a Realtor, if you know that every Spring, the home you are marketing gets water in the basement, you don’t keep it a secret! Unless, of course, you don’t mind getting sued!
Seller’s Disclosure Statements Protect Real Estate Agents
Most regard the function of the form as a protection for the seller and the Realtor. In fact, many errors and omission insurance policies give a discount to Real Estate companies that require their agents to fill out these forms.
As a home buyer, you should always ask your buyer’s agent to get a copy of the seller’s disclosure form to be able to review any known issues.
Every seller has to respond fully and accurately to any request for information about a property. If the form is not used, it does not mean the Realtor and seller are off the hook for giving proper Real Estate disclosures on any defects they may be aware of with the home or neighborhood.
Some Believe It’s a Mistake to Fill Out Property Condition Statements
Some Massachusetts attorneys believe it is a mistake to have a seller fill out a disclosure form. Massachusetts is a Caveat Emptor state which means “let the buyer beware.”
A seller is not required to disclose problems associated with their property. So, the controversy stems from the fact that voluntarily disclosing everything terrible about their home could be unwise.
By making unnecessary disclosures, you could entice buyers to make a lower offer to compensate for rectifying the problems.
Sellers need to weigh their rights not to disclose vs. “doing the right thing.” It should be made abundantly clear that real estate agents do not have the same luxury.
A real estate agent must disclose any known problems they discover about a property. Sellers also must disclose things when they are asked a direct question. They cannot avoid being truthful.
For example, a seller must be honest if a buyer wants to know if the basement gets water in the spring.
A buyer with kids could also be interested in knowing if there are sex offenders in the neighborhood.
It is not unusual for a buyer to search for sexual predators near me before committing to a home purchase.
Asking Questions Before Making an Offer is Wise
It becomes vital for buyers to ask questions when purchasing a house. By asking questions, you are putting the onus on the owner to answer honestly about things they have not voluntarily disclosed.
Another good example is researching the death history of the house or possible hauntings. Some home buyers would have no interest in purchasing a stigmatized property. Without asking, a direct question, the seller would unlikely ever tell you.
Many issues could stigmatize a property in Massachusetts. When you have any concerns about these kinds of potential problems, get answers to your questions.
It’s Harder to Renegotiate Know Issues After a Home Inspection
When representing a seller, one of the things I am a real stickler about is having them fill out the form as detailed as possible. I want them to disclose every known issue that is present.
Why do I do this? In a buyer’s market, it is typical that there can be a 2nd round of negotiations after the home inspection. Buyers feel like they are in the driver’s seat and sometimes think they can ask for the moon.
It is very difficult for a buyer to come back after a home inspection and ask the seller to provide a credit for repair or fix the issue if you have already made them aware of it before an offer!
For example, let’s say you are aware of the following conditions or items that possibly need repair in your home:
- A window that has a broken seal (window has fogged).
- The back right burner on the stove is not operational.
- A hairline crack in the foundation wall.
- The handrail on the deck is loose.
If these things are disclosed upfront to a buyer before they make an offer on your home, it is awfully difficult for them to come back to you after the fact and ask for a repair or credit.
It also potentially avoids a buyer wanting to cancel the contract.
A good Real Estate agent will be prepared upfront to avoid complications down the road.
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About the Author: The above Real Estate information on the Massachusetts seller’s property disclosure statement was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 508-625-0191. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 36+ Years.
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, Northborough, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Southborough, Sutton, Wayland, Westborough, Whitinsville, Worcester, Upton and Uxbridge MA.
A good reminder to home sellers to that it is much easier to disclose home issues up front so there are no surprises at the home inspection or to prevent lawsuits down the road. Good Information Bill. Thank You.
Your new blog is FABULOUS dahling! 🙂 Congratulations!
I tell all my Pre-Sale inspection clients to simply disclose my inspection findings to their Sellers and it simply makes their Sale much less stressful. Any information (about your home) is power in a successful property transaction.
If you don’t mind, I’d like to share my very informative article for home Sellers…