Disclosures are a crucial part of the real estate sale process. A seller has to inform prospective buyers in writing about issues with the property that might affect its value and therefore the upcoming real estate transaction. Buyers also have the right to demand inspections and to back out of a transaction if the seller does not disclose certain details early in the process.
Whether you are about to buy real property, have recently purchased a home or want to list your own house for sale, you need to understand the Pennsylvania real estate disclosure rules. Otherwise, you could make a mistake that ends up derailing a transaction as a seller or offering too much for a property as a buyer.
Understanding the real estate disclosure laws will help you feel more confident about your upcoming transaction or prepared to seek support from the legal system after completing a transaction.
What does state law require?
Disclosure rules are slightly different in different states, so even if you have sold real property before, you may not understand your current obligations. Generally, a seller in Pennsylvania needs to disclose any known issues with the property. This will include both obvious and latent defects with the physical property, as well as issues with the title.
Contrary to urban legend, state law does not require the disclosure of supernatural activity, deaths or rude neighbors. They only need to provide information about known issues with the property, its zoning or its title.
What do disclosure violations mean?
When sellers do not properly disclose issues with a property to buyers and their agents, people may pursue a home that they do not actually want to own or may significantly overpay for a property.
Buyers negatively affected by a seller failing to disclose known issues or actively trying to hide them could have grounds to make a claim against the seller or possibly their real estate agent. They may be able to demand compensation for the difference in property value or the cost to correct the issue. In some cases, insurance covering the real estate agent may help. Other times, going to civil court is the only viable solution.
Learning more about the Rules for residential real estate transactions can help those buying and selling real property.