How Do Property Disclosures Affect an Offer on a Pleasanton CA Home?

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00:29: Theodora: Hello, and welcome to 680 Home Video Channel, a web series where we answer all of your real estate questions. I’m your host Theodora and I’m talking to local East Bay real estate broker Doug Buenz.


00:41: Hi Doug, how are you?  It’s great to see you again!


00:43: Doug: Nice to see you, Theodora.


00:45: Theodora: Today, we’re going to discuss disclosures. Doug, what disclosures are required of the seller during a real estate transaction?


00:53: Doug: There are several disclosures that are required as part of the real estate transaction in California.


00:58: The main disclosure document is called the Transfer Disclosure Statement. This is a three-page form that is essentially a questionnaire for the seller. It walks them through several aspects of the property. Typical questions are: what is included in the property – spa, appliances, etc. Are all appliances and systems in good working condition and order? Are there any known defects in the roof, walls, floors, foundation, and windows? Are there any lawsuits pending? Is there any neighborhood noise or nuisance problems? Are there any easements on the property? Is the seller part of a homeowners association? Is the seller aware of any drainage or flooding issues on the property? These are the types of questions that are on the Transfer Disclosure Statement.


01:52: Another commonly used form is the Seller Questionnaire. It’s not required by law but in practice, it’s a document that’s very commonly included as part of the disclosure process. It is in a more narrative form. This asks questions to the seller to explain several aspects of the property in narrative form. For instance, are you aware of any prior repairs on the property? If so, explain. Are you aware of remodeling on the property? Has there been any painting on the property? Has there been any insurance claim filed in the last five years? Does the seller have a pet? If so, are you aware of any pet odor or stains? These are types of questions in the Seller Questionnaire.


02:34: Other disclosures include Lead Paint Disclosure that’s required for any property built prior to 1978. It basically asks the seller if they are aware of any lead paint on the property. There’s a Statutory Seller Disclosure Statement which deals with zoning and those types of issues that are frankly rather obscure and very rarely checked affirmatively by the seller.


03:01: And then there’s a Natural Hazard Disclosure Statement. This is a form that asks the seller if the property is in a flood zone, earthquake zone or earthquake hazard zone, fire zone, dam inundation zone, and several other zones. Unless the seller is a geologist, they really can’t fill that out. So a common practice is to hire a geological firm to research all the maps with the state to determine whether the property is in a flood zone, or earthquake zone, or any of these property zones. So that’s another required disclosure by the seller.


03:35: What should the seller disclose? I get that question quite a bit. The short answer to that is any material fact that would affect the desirability of the property to a potential purchaser. That’s a rather broad definition. I guess in layman’s terms is if you have to ask, you probably should disclose it. And often I get the comment from sellers, “Well, I don’t want to be too detailed about my disclosures because I don’t want to freak out the buyer and have them not wanting to buy my property.” As a matter of fact, my experience tells me the opposite is true. The more detailed a seller’s disclosures are, the higher the comfort level is with the buyer that they’re getting the straight story from the seller because they’re understanding exactly what they’re purchasing. So, I like to say that you really can’t be too detailed in your disclosures to a buyer.


04:36: If you have real estate questions or need assistance I do hope you’ll give me a call. I’m worthy of your trust.