Selling Your Real Estate Property: What You Must Disclose
The Initial Consultation
Getting Started: Preparing to Sell Your Property
ou’ve decided to sell your property, and you’ve invited me to discuss the necessary steps. During our consultations, we often sit around the kitchen table, discussing the market, paperwork, timelines, and the important matter of property disclosure. I’m known for my inquisitive nature, and this meeting is no different. I always ask one crucial question: “Have we covered everything about your property?” This question frequently prompts various responses from sellers regarding potential defects.
What you must disclose regarding defects
The question that arises is: What should you disclose when selling your property? The answer to this question varies depending on the Realtor® you consult. Opinions and interpretations on disclosure can differ significantly. Here’s my perspective:
When it comes to property defects, we can categorize them as physical or psychological. Physical defects have two primary types: patent and latent.
Issues Readily Observable
Patent defects are issues that are readily visible during property showings or inspections by a home inspector. For instance, we consider a hole in the wall, a broken railing, or a damaged window as patent defects. In this cases, the principle of “buyer beware” (Caveat Emptor) applies, and the seller has no obligated to disclose these defects.
Hidden and Unobservable Problems
Latent defects, on the other hand, are not easily noticeable during property viewings or inspections. The law is clear that sellers must disclose latent defects if they render the property uninhabitable, dangerous, or unfit for the buyer’s intended purpose. A genuine latent defect occurs when neither the seller nor the buyer knew about it at the time of the sale. Liability arises when such a defect renders the property uninhabitable or unsafe, and we can prove that the seller was aware of the defect but chose not to disclose it. Examples of latent defects include basement leaks in the spring, illicit grow-op operations, electrical issues, the absence of required permits for renovations, and more.
Addressing Sensitive Matters
Psychological defects can be a sensitive subject. While the law requires defects to make the property uninhabitable, the question arises: Do events such as suicides, murders, or the notion of a haunted house render a property uninhabitable? My suggestion is to disclose everything you are aware of, so it doesn’t become a legal issue after closing.
However, as a Realtor®, I must follow your lawful instructions as the seller. If you choose not to disclose a psychological defect, we won’t disclose it unless a buyer or their representative specifically asks about it. My advice is to be upfront about everything you are aware of to prevent legal complications after the sale.
So, when selling your real estate property, it’s essential to understand the distinctions between patent and latent physical defects, as well as how to handle potential psychological defects. Clear communication and disclosure are key to a successful and legally sound property transaction.
Read the article about suicide written by Bob Aaron here: http://www.aaron.ca/columns/2009-01-17.htm
Read the article about buyers purchasing next to a nude beach by Mark Weisleder here: https://www.thestar.com/life/homes/2009/05/22/the_bare_facts_on_full_disclosure.html
Disclaimer: This article is for general reading purposes only. Consult with your Realtor® or lawyer for your unique situation.
If you would like to have a consultation at your “good ‘ole kitchen table” with me to discuss property disclosures, just send me a text, or call me @ 613-315-5966
Looking to purchase a rural home close to the city or town? Read some helpful hints here: buying-a-rural-property-in-lanark-county