Minnesota Statutes require that sellers disclose to prospective buyers all material facts that the sellers are aware of that could adversely and significantly affect an ordinary buyer’s use and enjoyment of the property.
There is a 12-page Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement form approved by the Minnesota Association of Realtors, that the sellers complete at the time of listing the property. If there are any changes that occur prior to closing the seller is obligated to update the disclosure.
In some cases, there is a Seller’s Disclosure Alternative form, where the seller does not answer the disclosure questions. This typically occurs in foreclosure properties, investment properties, or estates where the seller did not live in the home.
The disclosure form is not a warranty, and buyers are encouraged to have an independent home inspector inspect the property. Many sellers are not aware of problems with their home. I have seen homes with mold, water, or fire damage in attics, and the sellers had never looked in the attic or had an inspection when they purchased the home. I have seen furnaces emitting carbon monoxide and the sellers had no idea the furnace was bad.
Frequently there are homes with branches from nearby trees rubbing on the roof, and the sellers never noticed or thought it was a big deal.
Encroachments; like a neighbor’s shed partially on the property or an easement, like sharing a driveway need to be disclosed. Flood zones are a disclosure requirement. Problems with water intrusion, or foundation problems need to be disclosed.
Many home owners work on their own homes making mechanical or structural changes. If the homeowner did not pull the required permits and have the work inspected, the seller must disclose that as well. I have seen cases where a basement was finished without permits and city officials made the sellers open the walls to inspect the framing, insulation, electrical, plumbing, and heating.
Insurance claims need to be disclosed, as a seller may have filed a claim, received compensation, and not repaired the damage. Insurance companies track claims and new buyer may not be able to file a future claim, if repairs were not made on an old one.
There are additional disclosures for lead based paint, wells, septic systems, radon, mold, meth amphetamine production, etc.
An experienced agent can explain the required disclosures to you before selling your home.
Ask the Real Estate Agent is a weekly column by Cheryl Kempenich of Coldwell Banker Burnet, who lives and offices in the Chisago Lakes Area. Submit your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. All information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. For legal assistance consult an attorney.