Should You Sell By Owner To Avoid Having To Disclose Property Defects?

Many people mistakenly believe that Seller’s Disclosure only benefits the buyer, but there is significant benefit to the seller in making disclosure.

But first, let me point out that the fact some people think this way means we have to add it to the list of potential dangers for a buyer who is working directly with an owner.

Did you know Seller’s Disclosure is not a Realtor requirement? It is required by law, whether you are working with a licensed real estate professional or not.

A seller’s disclosure is a legally required statement that discloses important or relevant information to a real property buyer. A seller’s property disclosure form is governed by state and federal laws.

It is easy to understand how the seller’s disclosure can protect the buyer. When the property condition is disclosed, the buyer can make the purchase decision based on the facts, rather than on the hope that everything is great. Or the false hope that all is well, when in reality there is a defect that will become apparent later.

Some sellers don’t want to disclose defects because it could affect the price.

Well, yes. It could, and likely should, affect the price. But it may not prevent an offer; kill the sale at inspection; or worse.

Consider if you were the buyer of a used car, and the odometer had been rolled back (youngsters, just play along like you know what that means).

The value of the car is less than portrayed because of the higher actual miles. If the person who sold you the car hid the fact the mileage was wrong, they committed fraud, and you could take them to court.

The court looks at two main things:

1.)  Was the buyer harmed (in this case, yes)

2.)  Did the seller intentionally commit the fraud?

If the seller was also a victim of odometer fraud, and unknowingly bought the car, and subsequently sold it without knowledge of the fraud, then they would have to take that up with the person they bought it from.

And by “take that up with” I mean, “take them to court”.

If the seller made the buyer aware of the incorrect mileage, the buyer may still have bought the car, and the seller would not have to look forward to attorney and court costs.

That is the benefit of disclosing known defects. Without a required seller’s disclosure, a seller can be held liable.

I always tell my sellers, “Disclosure is lawsuit protection. You cannot be sued for things that you disclose, but you may be sued for things that you conceal.”

Protect yourself and disclose as required by the laws in your state. Laws vary.

Florida law provides that, with some exceptions, you (as a home seller) must disclose any facts or conditions about your property that have a substantial impact on its value or desirability, and that others cannot easily see for themselves (This comes from the court case of  Johnson v. Davis, 480 So.2d 625 (Fla. 1985)). 

I send a bi-weekly, digital newsletter with insights into the real estate market, as well as helpful hints, tips and trends for homeowners. If you would like to receive it, just send me a message with your email and I will add you to the next mailing.

All the Best!

Jim Sweat, ABR, CLHMS, CRS, CDPE, GRI, e-PRO, ILHM

REALTOR

Featured in Scene Magazine’s Men on the Scene 2016 issue

Author of REAL ESTATE CSI: CONTROVERSY, SECRETS, INSIGHT (coming soon)

Jim Sweat – Helping Buyers & Sellers Choose Wisely Since 1995 ™”

Re/Max Alliance Group

Mobile: 941-306-7384

http://myfloridahomesmls.com/JimSweat (Home Search)

https://jimsweat.wordpress.com/ (Blog)

www.linkedin.com/in/jimsweat (LinkedIn)

A Proven Professional Working for You!

22 Years Experience

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Can you believe what I found when I searched “Jim Sweat” online?

Online search reveals “Segal’s Law” scenario.

Wow!

This is a problem for me, other Realtors, and our clients.

Segal’s law is an adage that states:

“A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure.”

It refers to the pitfalls of having too much potentially conflicting information when making a decision.

The same thing happens on the internet. I just searched my own name, something I have to do from time to time because I am in a very public business.

The results showed that I have been in the real estate business for 4, 8, 9, 17 or 20 years. Quite a spread.

My production during that time is even more interesting: I have sold 1, 2, 43, or a vague “hundreds of homes” during my entire career.

When you go online to get answers, you want good information. Admittedly, many of the websites I found myself on I have never heard of before, but I did only look at the ones that had my “actual info” and not one of the dozens of other Jim Sweats out there.

Let’s be smart about this. To sort through all of the garbage online and get the real scoop, let’s just look at the best websites.

Is it safe to assume that the top two sites would have the best information? I am talking the two with the most monthly visitors; the largest dollar valuations; publicly traded companies that dominate all of the others for real estate search. This should give us the most accurate, up to date information available, right? They even state that they update their information regularly.

Zillow and Trulia (who are in the process of merging, subject to government approval) are the dominate players in real estate search, and they do not have my information correct. Not even close.

Yes, they have my 20 years right, but Zillow had me completing only two (2) sales during my entire career, and Trulia had me down for just one (1)!

I am in the process of getting those things updated, so the numbers should be different by the time you look for yourself. But, let’s get real! I have had a profile on each of these sites for over five years! How long does it take to “update regularly”?!?

So, is the problem that I have not paid them to make my information accurate? Possibly. I have called them and they tell me they will update my information and it will begin to fill in. But I didn’t pay them, and nothing changed. Trulia says I don’t have any reviews, but there are seven on the site. However, I don’t have any ratings because the reviews were added by folks before the ratings featured existed.

Millions of people go to these sites every month. I would like to ignore them, because the information is factually-challenged, but I can’t do that when most of my potential customers are on these sites.

What about all of the websites I have never even heard of?

See my blog: Real Estate Misinformation and Extortion for more details on the extortion that takes place. https://jimsweat.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/real-estate-misinformation-and-extortion/

Thousands of companies’ business models can be summed up simply “Get money from agents”.

I used to try to keep my info updated on real estate sites, but there is no way to keep up.

The public is going to get a LOT of bad information when they go online. There is no alternative.

Be careful, folks! There is a wealth of information, and misinformation, available online. Find someone trustworthy to help you make sense of it all. It could mean thousands of dollars in your pocket!

Respectfully,

Jim Sweat, ABR, CRS, CDPE, GRI, e-PRO, ILHM

REALTOR

Author of REAL ESTATE CSI: CONTROVERSY, SECRETS, INSIGHT (available 2015)

American Realty of Venice, Inc.

700 W. Venice Ave

Venice, FL 34285

941-484-8080

http://myfloridahomesmls.com/JimSweat Home search

www.linkedin.com/in/jimsweat LinkedIn

http://www.trulia.com/profile/jimsweat Trulia

https://www.zillow.com/reviews/write/?s=X1-ZUyz3incawqo7d_93ahq Zillow