Florida Residential Real Estate Disclosures
When people sell their family homes, they have to make certain disclosures to potential buyers. Many states require a disclosure statement from the sellers to the buyers, but each state has different requirements as to what the sellers need to say or are allowed to keep to themselves. In general, the sellers disclose information about known defects on the property. But if you have any questions about what you have to tell a potential homebuyer, contact an attorney in West Palm Beach for professional help.
Florida Disclosure Requirements
If you are selling a home in Florida, you must follow the state’s disclosure statements requirement. This duty has developed through case law and a series of statutes, not one all-encompassing law. Overall, Florida requires sellers to tell potential buyers about anything on the property that has a substantial impact on the value of that property and that others cannot see for themselves. If there is a defect that visitors can easily see when they are in the house, this probably does not need to be disclosed.
The Florida Association of Realtors provides homeowners with a standard disclosure form to work off of. The main categories include:
- Structures of the home: Are the roof, foundation, windows, electrical, heating and cooling systems sound?
- Plumping: What is the water source? Are there any problems with the system?
- Termites: Was there ever an infestation that caused structural damage? Was it treated?
- Water damage: Has the home ever flooded or water leaked in? Is the home located in a flood zone or seaward of the coastal construction control line?
- Pools and spas: Do all of these features completed after Oct. 1, 2000 have the legally required safety features?
- Sinkholes: Are there any known sinkholes on the property?
- Deeds, Boundaries, and homeowner association restrictions: Are there any deed or other restrictions to how the property can be used, sold, or leased? Are any portions of the property shared with other landowners?
- Environmental: When was the property built? Is there any lead, asbestos, defective drywall or other hazards located on the property? Does the property include any mangroves, archeological sites, or other sensitive areas?
- Governmental: Are there zoning restrictions? Do any zoning restrictions affect how the land can be used or improvements that could be made to the property?
Disclosures are only made based on what sellers actually know about their property at the time. If a defect is unknown to them, they cannot be held liable if new buyers find a problem later.
When Sellers Can be Held Responsible
There are situations in which sellers can be held legally responsible for defects they did not disclose. In many cases, these defects are costly for the new owner to fix and they want the old owner to pay. However, the buyer must prove a number of elements in court, including:
- The seller had actual knowledge of the defect;
- The buyer did not know about the defect when he or she bought the house;
- The defect was not easy for the buyer to find and know;
- The seller did not tell the buyer about the defect; and
- The defect substantially impacts the property’s value.
Call a Florida Residential Real Estate Attorney Today
If you have questions about selling or buying a home in West Palm Beach, call the real estate lawyers at the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray, P.A. today at (561) 571-8970. As a seller, you want to fully understand your legal duty to disclose, and as a buyer, you want to ensure you buy a home that does not come with unwelcome surprises.