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California Home Seller Disclosure Duties


Property Condition - Seller's What to Expect During the Inspection ProcessThe Transfer Disclosure Statement (T.D.S.) - Perhaps the most important paper you will complete when selling your home

Most sellers (other than institutional type) are required by law to disclose facts and defects, which materially affect the value or desirability of their home. The Transfer Disclosure Statement (TDS) helps the seller meet this requirement by providing a standardized format for most basic information. If the seller does not fully disclose, the buyer will be able to cancel the escrow, or worse find out after escrow closes - Full disclosure can reduce or eliminate the possibility of later legal action.

Often, as part of "day to day" living in a home, certain items do not function properly, are overlooked and we just accept them. Some common problems: Does your doorbell work? Is the clock on the oven operating properly? Do all windows and doors open properly? Is there safety glass in shower & sliding glass doors? Are you aware of asbestos or lead based paint? How is your water pressure? Are any of your sprinklers broken? If you have a water softener is it owned or rented? Information about an alarm system should also be noted on the T.D.S. Legally, you must also disclose any homeowner's insurance claims made in the last five years. When in doubt, disclose.

Other than mandatory government retrofit (smoke detectors, water heater strapping, etc.), most sales in Los Angeles County are "as is", subject to the buyer's approval of their inspection. There is no perfect house; problems disclosed to a buyer when a buyer is still excited about buying the home are frequently easier for the buyer to accept. Some Realtors, have the buyer acknowledge receipt and approval of the transfer disclosure at the time of the initial offer. The Physical InspectionIn addition to your written disclosures, the buyer is urged to contact a professional inspector for a more thorough evaluation of the home. The inspector performs a visual examination of the home and tests to see if all major systems in the home are operating satisfactorily. The inspection is typically scheduled within ten to fourteen days after you and the buyer have accepted the terms of the Real Estate Purchase Contract. A professional home inspection is an important line of defense for both the buyer and the seller of a home. It functions like a check-up from a doctor. If doctor suspects problems exist, he/she will send you to a specialist. A professional home inspector operates in much the same way. When a problem exists with certain areas of the home, the inspector may recommend further evaluation by specialists, such as fireplace, seismic, etc.

Based on the results of the buyer's inspections and investigations, buyers have the contractual right to request, within the stipulated time frame, that you, as the seller, agree to correct certain deficiencies. As the seller, you may agree or refuse to repair these items. Depending on the severity of the defects, the buyer's request is often successfully negotiated by the agents involved.

The Termite Inspection

The structural pest control (termite) inspection is conducted by a state licensed inspector. In addition to actual termite damage, the report will indicate any type of wood destroying organisms that may be present, including fungi (sometimes called "dry rot"), which generally results from excessive moisture.

Typically the seller pays for work that deals with current infestation (Section I). If desired, the buyer typically pays for work considered to be preventative (Section II). Customarily, section I termite clearance is provided by the seller prior to close of escrow and the property will be certified to be free of active infestation.

Phyllis Harb, a California native is a Realtor/Marketing Specialist at RE/Max Tri City in La Canada, California. RE/MAX Tri-City offers additional offices in La Crescenta, Glendale, Los Feliz and Pasadena. Harb has been assisting Los Angeles County home sellers and buyers since 1989 and additionally offers over 10 years experience in real estate lending. Harb has an award winning web site @ http://www.RealtorHarb.com & may also be contacted at 818 790-7325.


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