Seller Disclosure Requirements to Know in California
California real estate law requires someone selling a home to disclose the physical condition of a property in what’s called a seller disclosure. Although there is no time constraint on presenting the disclosures to the buyer; however, before closing escrow is the obvious deadline. Most buyers want them as early as possible and within the default 17-day Due Diligence period.
Even in a hot real estate market like California and elsewhere, it’s best to provide potential buyers with the appropriate seller disclosures as soon as possible.
What Is the Point of a Seller Disclosure in California?
Houses are complex things. There is the structure itself, the mechanicals (HVAC, wiring, plumbing, etc.), roof, foundation, landscaping, and finally, the cosmetics of the house. These separate components function independently of the others, so your wiring may be original and not up to current code. At the same time, your roof may be five years old, the plumbing has leaked over the years, and there are four kinds of pipes.
The seller disclosures paint a comprehensive picture of all these components, so buyers know of any existing or possible material defects before finalizing the contract.
California law protects the buyer’s interests. It could help the buyer use that information to come up with their offer. If buyers know the roof leaks or the property floods, they will make a lower offer.
That is true but cheaper in the long run than facing a lawsuit from an unhappy homeowner. Sellers may think that all these disclosures are unnecessary. In fact, they give buyers a higher degree of confidence about the house, even when defects are known.
California Seller Transfer Disclosure Statement
This form, known as the TDS, is the primary disclosure form. It asks about a wide range of issues from the condition of the roof and appliances to whether anyone died in the house or on the property during the last three years, or if your neighbors throw loud parties.
If you’ve renovated and added on to the house, this is where you let the buyer know that the entire structure is not original. Sellers also have to inform buyers of the property taxes and HOA fees on the disclosure.
The TDS is Not Designed to Nitpick
Many sellers would disagree, but the point of the TDS isn’t to identify every chipped bit of paint or loose doorknob in the house. Its to inform the buyer of important details about the house that are not visible to casual inspection.
Here’s an example. There’s a line about any significant malfunction or defect to the floors of the home. If the carpet is old and worn in places, that is not a material defect. If the floor under the carpet is sagging or soft or moisture is seeping up from the subflooring, that is a material defect and must be disclosed.
In some sense, a seller disclosure in California and beyond offers a road map for the buyer’s inspections. They let the inspector know any defects they should zero in on.
Other Disclosed Items
Sellers also have to let the buyer know if any of the following apply to the house:
- The house is in a protected conservancy.
- The house is within two miles of an airport.
- The house is impacted by an industrial use facility (odors, noise, chemicals).
- The house has been used as a methamphetamine production lab.
- The house and surrounding area are zoned for specific purposes.
- The house is compliant with smoke detector regulations.
You’ll have to let the buyers know if there are any security bars on the windows and confirm the water heater is secured to the building in case of an earthquake.
California Natural Hazard Seller Disclosure Statement
This is a Yes/No disclosure that asks about the property itself, not any structures. It determines if the land is in any of the following areas:
- Special flood hazard
- “Substantial” forest fire risk
- Earthquake fault zone
Your real estate agent can answer these questions for you as can your city or county government website.
Lead Paint Disclosures
Houses built before 1978 are likely to have lead paint on the walls. Sellers must provide the Lead Paint Hazard pamphlet from the EPA to buyers and disclose if they know of any lead paint in the home. If a seller fails to comply with this one, and lead paint is found in the house later, they can be sued for triple damages and face criminal and civil penalties.
How Offercity Makes California Seller Disclosure Less Stressful
You don’t have to stress over the disclosures when you decide to sell your house with Offercity. Since we buy houses as-is, we expect your home to have the typical signs of wear and tear, so a leaky roof or aluminum wiring doesn’t scare us off. We understand that you live in your house, and those wonky cabinets and a slow shower drain are just part of the charm.
Our system can get you a cash offer in just a couple of days, with closing on your schedule. So, don’t worry about what you’ll have to disclose or how much you’ll have to lower your asking price. Offercity’s offer for your house includes wobbly toilets, and we don’t care. Contact us today to get started.