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Real Estate Law - 5 Things You Must Disclose to Buyers

Each state's real estate law has different requirements for what a seller must disclose to a buyer. Failing to do so can result in a breach of contract and subsequent lawsuits.

In real estate law across the nation, sellers are required to disclose certain information to the buyers. What exactly needs to be disclosed varies slightly by state but many are similar and fall under the idea that any pertinent information that would affect the home's value, ability to use as a dwelling, or the desirability of the property must be revealed to the buyer. Here are some examples of defects that must be disclosed as deemed by local real estate law or else sellers may face breach of contract penalties.

1. Mold

It would be unreasonable for a buyer to expect a home to be 100% mold free. Unless you're living in a desert with no indoor water, the odds are high that there are some small traces of mold throughout the property. The problem comes when mold gets out of control, visibly soiling and spreading across surfaces, eating through wood or other materials, or causing physical reactions such as sore throat and headaches. Sellers should always disclose mold and mildew problems even if mild because they can spread if not maintained. Buyers also need to beware that mold can be scrubbed clean but quickly return after a home inspection.

2. Ghosts

Many people are concerned about inadvertently buying a home that is a site for paranormal activity. States can vary greatly on this matter, as it can be difficult to define what constitutes as a potential haunting. While most sellers don't have a responsibility to disclose whether or not they've seen any ghostly figures, they may have to reveal if there have been any grisly accidents such as murders on the property. If you're very concerned with the history of a home, it is recommended to do the research yourself before signing so you can sleep easy knowing your bed isn't a few feet away from an ancient graveyard.

3. Public Stigma

In addition to ghostly reputations, public stigmas attached to certain properties must be disclosed in every state according to real estate law. That means if the home wasn't necessarily the scene of a murder, but was once home to infamous criminals or is next door to an area well known for dangerous activity, it is a buyer's right to know. This not only protects their personal privacy, but the home's value may have significantly decreased because of it. If you ever think the price is too good to be true, this may be why.

4. Pests and Infestations

Sellers may not have to tell buyers about every single ant attack they got over the hot summer months, but if they have had termite problems, bed bugs, or cockroaches within the past few years, they may have a legal obligation to reveal these past infestations to buyers even if the pests have been all cleared.

5. Hazards

Do you live in on a fault line or in the middle of tornado territory? While most sellers will likely already know thisArticle Submission, you may be required by real estate law to reveal if you live in or near a potential natural disaster zone.

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San Francisco real estate law is particularly complex and should only be handled by experts. For a consultation, call the attorneys at

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