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Jackie Colson-Miller

Jackie Colson-Miller, CIPS
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The “Seller’s Disclosure”…a Critical Piece in the Florida Real Estate Contract…Tampa Real Estate News

This week, I have had two separate instances that involved Failure to Disclose issues that surfaced after a closing took place, so its the perfect topic today to educate anyone buying a home in Tampa, selling a home in Tampa or anyone contemplating a home purchase in the State of Florida.

The Florida Real Estate contract requires the seller to disclose any facts which materially affect the property . There is a lengthy form regarding all issues related to the property that a seller fills out , when a home is listed, known as the Sellers Disclosure . Since the contract states that the seller warrants that everything about the property is in working condition , filling out the sellers disclosure Tampahomefaucetproperly is a critical issue. It also requires all utilities to be on for the home inspection. Many sellers live with things their home that dont really work anymore, or they havent used them since they owned the property. For instance, a home may have a fireplace that hasnt been used by the current owner. Or, there may be a security system that has never been used. All of these things should be disclosed on the Seller’s Disclosure , along with the Mold Addendum. A savvy listing agent will review the Sellers answers on the disclosure, to ensure the questions have been answered properly. The seller can say I have never used the fireplace and it is not a warranted item. , or Two zones in the sprinkler system are not currently operating . Simple. Full disclosure.

Too often, sellers either forget about a non-working item, or they hope that the issue may not be discovered by a home inspector, or their listing agent does not quiz them thoroughly about any non-working items. Bad Idea. Throughout the listing period, the disclosure may need to be “updated” with new information about any thing that may have changed, i.e. a new roof, new A/C, flooding, etc.

The two issues I encountered recently are worth discussing because they are VERY different examples of a sellers Failure to Disclose .

Case #1: A spa heater was found to be non-functioning during a home inspection. The spa was apparentlygas heated . The sellers disclosure indicated there were no issues with the pool, or spa. It also indicated that the sellers had occupied the home, which is VERY important. If a seller had NOT occupied the home, they would not necessarily have knowledge of any non-working items. In this case, they had purchased it 3 years prior, but it was now vacant. Repair of the spa heater was listed on the items which needed repair, along with a number of other items. The listing agent sent an email stating that all repairs had been completed. The Contractor who made the repairs provided an invoice which stated the breaker needed to be on for the spa heater to operate and the spa blower is operating normally. A VA appraiser had checked the repairs and there was also a written invoice of verification of repairs. The repairs were triple-checked .

Once the buyers moved into the home, it was discovered: 1: the spa heater was still not working, 2: there was NO GAS TANK (it had been removed after the previous owners cancelled their service) 3: without gas at the time of the home inspection, the spa heater could NEVER have been tested, nor could it be operable. The Sellers failed to disclose 1. there was no gas service for the spa 2. there were any issues with the spa AND they are guilty of Breach of Contract by failing to provide gas for the home inspection. None of these things were readily observable to the buyers, or the home inspector, but they were all facts which materially affect the property. The home had a general home inspection, radon inspection and mold inspection! Buyers are expecting to be reimbursed by the Seller for the spa heater repair and the installation of a new underground tank. All of this could have been avoided if the Seller had simply stated the lack of a gas tank and the unknown condition of the spa, since they had apparently never used it and should have stated that is was not a warranted item. Oh, these sellers also failed to disclose they had a mitigation fan due to the presence of radon. The radon inspector is the one who alerted us to THAT little tidbit, when the radon levels were slightly elevated, and the radon company had a record of a previous installation of a fan at that address. I always recommend a radon inspection in the Eastern part of the county, due to phosphate in the soil, but over 80% of homes in the area go uninspected. Why? Uninformed agents and buyers.

Case #2: First time homebuyers purchase a home without representation, through the listing agent. The home had apparently had an addition done without permits. The buyers never received, nor did they sign, a sellers disclosure. They have now incurred substantial costs related to obtaining the proper permits, since the latest version of the Florida contract(not the one THEY signed) requires seller verification that all work was done with permits, and they have passed the final inspection. I was contacted by them through the Real Estate Sizzle, to get some advice, so I referred them to the listing broker, as well as a Real Estate Attorney.

Hopefully, a good paper trail and the obvious “failure to disclose” in each case ,will result in a positive outcome for the buyers, but an accurately filled-out “Seller’s Disclosure” could have avoided a lot of hassles for all parties…AND… …HONESTY IS ALWAYS THE BEST POLICY.

Selling a Home in Tampa? When in doubtOVERDISCLOSE! Buying a Home in Tampa? Read the Sellers Disclosure thoroughly and get written verification of any, and all, repairs. And, never buy a home, especially a “For Sale By Owner”, in Tampa, or anywhere, without the help of an EXPERIENCED agent who can properly advise YOU through every step of the homebuying process. Need help with your Real Estate needs in Tampa? Contact me today!

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4 Responses to “The “Seller’s Disclosure”…a Critical Piece in the Florida Real Estate Contract…Tampa Real Estate News”

  1. Kathy T. says:

    This is a phenomenally helpful post, Jackie. I’m going to link it to Shak & Jill later today. You can see the link at http://www.shakandjill.com. Thanks!

  2. Amazing reminder even for me here in Reno.

    Overdisclose. That’s right.

  3. Very good post Jackie. Thanks for sharing your stories. No matter how much you’ve seen in this business, it seems there are always new and unique situations to deal with. This article really brings out the importance of having a qualified buyers agent on your side throughout the transaction.

  4. john says:

    pretty obvious advice. Just points out the conflict of interests between the parties.

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