As some industries attempt to insert them self into a real estate transaction by replacing the licensee with automation, legal counselors, etc., the need to be the consummate professional who adds value to their clients is paramount.

I remember a time when there were no seller disclosures in the listing of property. The trade association introduced a 2-page form for a seller to complete and provide to the buyer back in the 1990s. After a while, the form grew to 3 pages. When I was privileged to be a member of the state association Executive Committee, I recall sitting with a former Chief Executive Officer. I asked “Glenn, why are we making the form so much longer?” and his reply resonated with me.

As the form continues to grow and state laws now mandate the seller to comply with the disclosure laws of either disclosing, hiring a third-party inspector or doing a waiver, I enjoy watching the ‘light bulbs’ lighting up by the attending continuing education classes! Many times, as we teach courses on disclosures, agents are unaware of the value of the forms provided by the State Association of REALTORS®. These forms allow a seller to complete the forms with easy-to-use checkboxes, blank lines and preprinted material. These are copyrighted forms which are not to be used by people outside of the REALTOR® community. These disclosure forms are valuable to your job as a REALTOR® member and should be handled and completed only when a REALTOR® is involved.

In meeting the disclosure requirement, any seller of a residential property of one to four family housing (whether they are attempting to For Sale by Owner OR hiring a real estate professional) must abide by these laws. Every residential seller has three choices:

  1. A seller must make a disclosure of things they are aware of in the property that may adversely impact an ordinary buyer’s use and enjoyment of the property. These material facts exclude title holders who are HIV+/AIDS, death (other than murder), ghosts, community-based facilities and the like. The measuring yardstick is “Is the seller aware of any issues other than the excluded items?” If they are not aware of issues, they don’t need to disclose! (How can a person disclose something they are not aware?)
  2. A seller may hire a private home inspector to prepare a report about the property. The seller and their agent would provide that report to the purchaser BUT if the seller is aware of something AND it is not on the report, the seller must append the report to include the material fact.
  3. Seller and buyer may agree to a waiver of material facts. There is no recourse for the seller if the buyer discovers the seller was aware and did not disclose.

Any one of these three may chosen by any seller. Of course, a disclosure would be considered a positive contribution in value and could add to the time/value of the sale.

Certain items may never be waived and must be disclosed. Wells, subsurface sewage treatment systems, mold, radon, predatory offender website location, environmental issues, airport zoning and cemetery disclosures must be made. Hence the reason the REALTOR® Alternative form is several pages long. It includes the mandatory statutory disclosure items.

By attending courses and learning how to counsel and coach a person through the complicated maze of forms, a real estate licensee provides values and benefits to their client.

What resonated with me about the statement of making the forms longer? “by having these additional requirements of disclosure, the value of real estate professionals becomes integral and essential to the sale/purchase and the buyers become better homeowners by being informed.” Mike Brennan

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