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Home sellers must tell buyers about defects and issues

Pennsylvania has a Real Estate Seller Disclosure Law, which states that anyone selling a residential home is required to fill out a form listing all the defects of the property. You must give potential buyers a filled-out version of this form before selling the property so that they are aware of any defect that could cause issues or damages later. Filling out this form correctly is very important and could save you a lot of money and trouble later.

There are many defects listed on the form, including:

· Water/sewage problems

· Structural damage, such as damage to the roof, foundation, or walls

· Plumbing issues

· Electrical issues

· Defective heating or air conditioning

· Termite infestation or any past treatment for termites

· Whether or not the house has ever been remodeled

· Any issues with the insurance or title of the property

The form also has a section for additional defects that weren't previously listed. This is where you should include any and all issues with the property that are not already on the form. Be as honest and thorough as you can. You can be held responsible for issues that should have been written on the form, even if they weren't listed earlier.

Is there anything I don't need to include?

Technically, you do not need to include minor problems that only need basic maintenance to fix, such as a leaky showerhead. If you are even slightly unsure whether or not you should include it on the form, though, err on the side of caution and write it down. You can also choose to fix minor problems like this yourself before selling the house.

Pennsylvania also doesn't require you to list issues that can't be repaired, such as psychological damage/traumatic events that occurred on the property. For example, you do not need to list instances of abuse, murder, suicide, etc. that may have happened in the house at any point.

You also do not need to include any information about the neighborhood itself. Even if the environment or people pose an increased chance of damages to the property, you do not need to include this.

Your knowledge of the property's defects

The form not only shows defects, but it also shows your personal knowledge of architecture, engineering, etc. and your likelihood of knowing about certain problems. While you are not required to have professional inspections for damages, claiming lack of knowledge will not protect you from everything. You will still be held responsible for issues that you reasonably should have noticed or known about.

If you sell your property and the new owners find defects later that you did not list on the form, you may be required to pay the repairs and sometimes cover the cost of damages caused by the defect as well. Make sure to include everything you possibly can when filling out a form about your property.

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Gregory R. Gifford
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