Transparency triumphs with thorough disclosures!
By Jennifer Hawkins, key2see Team
Seller: “My roof leaked 15 years ago, but I fixed it! Why do I have to tell the buyer?” Buyer: “What if the seller doesn’t tell me about the basement flooding, and I find out once I already own the home?”
It’s time to discuss disclosure and how you can protect yourself, both when buying and selling real estate, in Washington state.
Washington state has a document called the Seller's Disclosure Statement, aka Form 17. Form 17 is a six-page document that requires sellers to disclose EVERYTHING they know about their home. Some of the major questions pertain to events like roof leaks, basement flooding, neighbor encroachments, remodels, permitting, and six pages more of questions.
The seller has the ability to check a box:
[ ] YES
[ ] NO
[ ] I DON’T KNOW
[ ] N/A
If the answer is “Yes” to a question, such as basement flooding, roof leaking, etc., there is a section on page six for a typed explanation. It is important to remember, as a seller, we all understand things happen, roofs do leak, basements do flood, and electrical will need upgrading … but how do we know as the soon-to-be new owner? We know by the seller filling this document out fully and accurately.
Now to the skeptics out there who say, “Well, what about those dishonest people who try to scoop things under the rug?” “What about those people who have tried to cover up something terrible that happened on their property?”Here is the answer: Buyers have up to seven years to report after the finding! You heard me right! After the finding, not the close of the sale, not the time of which the event took place … the time the buyer finds out about the defect—which is why our response is simply: Disclose, Disclose, Disclose!
Buying and selling real estate needs to be treated like the biggest transaction of your life, because for 90 percent of us, it is our largest purchase in life. Passing on knowledge to the new owner is necessary, and we are so grateful that Washington state has made it mandatory. The Form 17 (Seller’s Disclosure Statement) is a five-day “get out of jail free” agreement. As a buyer, you will be presented with this document and have three to five days to review it and ask questions. If there is something on there you do not like or makes you uncomfortable, that is your time to ask questions!
I am a third-generation REALTOR, and my Grandpa Jack’s motto was: “Good People will make Good Decisions when they have Good Information.”
Grandpa Jack didn’t have the opportunity to operate under the Seller’s Disclosure Document in 1946, but I can assure you he would have been on the forefront of support if he was here today.
The job of a REALTOR is to bring you the best information and data on the product and process you need to make sure you have someone in your corner who knows how to protect you.