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Property sellers' required disclosures to buyers

Anyone in Delaware who is planning on selling a piece of real estate could be interested in what disclosures they would be required to make by law. The general rule is that a seller is obligated to disclose to a buyer any possible problems that could have a bearing on the property's value.

Most states do not require sellers to disclose any problems other than those that they are aware of. In some states, like California for example, the detailed disclosure requirements could be much more stringent.

Getting a property inspection could be a good idea for sellers since it could be used later to prove that they did not know about a problem with the property that might arise at a later date. It could also be used to show that they did know about a problem and failed to disclose it, however, so disclosing any problems uncovered by a home inspection is imperative. It is not necessary to fix or repair the problems, but only to disclose them to the buyer.

In the case of any house for sale that was built prior to 1978, there are specific requirements based upon the Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992. Under the act, sellers are required to advise buyers regarding any lead-based paint, grant them 10 days to test the home for lead, give them an EPA pamphlet and include all legal warnings required in their sales contract. The seller must acquire a signed copy and keep it for three years.

In most states, real estate disclosures must be made in writing and often also require the signatures of both parties. In states with highly detailed disclosure requirements, knowing the laws regarding disclosures is important, and sellers might want to consider consulting with an attorney who regularly handles real estate transactions.

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