material (noun) 5. a group of ideas, facts, data, etc., that may provide the basis for or be incorporated into some integrated work.*
fact (noun) 3. a truth known by actual experience or observation; something known to be true.*
Material Fact is a term used to describe any known experience or observation a seller knows to be true about their house that may impact the decision of a prospective buyer to purchase their house. Seller disclosure of material facts is a key component to a real estate transaction and required by law in most states across the United States. It is very important to know what is required to be disclosed and what is not from both perspectives.
What to Disclose
There are variations from state to state when it comes to what to disclose, but materials facts that are both apparent and non-apparent must be disclosed. Some examples of material facts include:
- Previous repairs or renovations
- Roof, basement and foundation defects, cracks, leaks or flooding
- Any current or past issues with HVAC, electrical, and plumbing systems
- Age of components, systems, repairs, and remodels
- Gross living area – square footage
- Any defective or recalled systems or components
- Presence of easements, encroachments, or boundary disputes
- Environmental hazards like mold, mildew, lead paint, asbestos, radon, etc.
- Past or current presence of pests, rodents, termites or other wood destroying insects
- Termite damage
- Information regarding developments, planned roadways, construction projects, etc.
What is Not Required to Disclose
Depending on your state, here are some examples of things that MAY NOT necessarily be required to be disclosed:
- Whether the property is located within proximity of a registered sex offender
- Whether the property was previously owned or occupied by someone diagnosed with AIDS, HIV, or any other disease not known to be transmittable via occupancy.
- Whether a natural death, homicide, suicide, or most other felonies occurred or were committed at the property.
These examples can vary state by state. It is very important to know your local statutes.
For the Seller
As a seller, when in doubt, disclose. Omitting something may cause you a future problem or liability. At a minimum, you must stick to the local statutes where your house resides and disclose everything required by law. It is also important to know what is not required because you may end up disclosing something that may matter to buyers that is not required by law to be disclosed and shrink your potential market of buyers or cause a lower selling price.
For the Buyer
It is imperative that you inspect any home you wish to buy. Do not just rely on the seller’s disclosure. A buyer should also be familiar with what is and is not required to be disclosed. Searching the sex offender registry or airport flight patterns or crime statistics can make all the difference between a good buy and a very bad buy. Do your homework, ask questions, research and perform inspections.
Nobody likes secrets. Sellers should not keep secrets, and buyers should do as much investigating as possible to make sure that there are not any secrets. If both parties do that, a happy and successful closing can happen for any home.
*source - dictionary.com