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The Seller’s Responsibilities in an MLS Listing

You have used a flat fee MLS listing to help sell a house in Miami, FL or elsewhere. Now, you think you have found a buyer. But what do you need to disclose to this potential buyer? While the laws vary from state to state and you should check them for your area, has some pointers to set you in the right direction to more quickly sell your home and lessen miscommunication about possible home defects. Always consider, however, the opinion of a qualified real estate attorney to clear up any questions before you have listed your home.

Federal Disclosures on Homes for Sale

Full Disclosure – The Seller's Responsibilities

A federally mandated disclosure is always to be included, naturally. One example is "Lead-Based Paint" if the home you are selling was built before 1978 and could very well have this issue. This disclosure gives the buyer ten days to conduct inspections for this type of paint, unless it is waived in writing by the potential buyer. It is however, considered good practice to give each buyer this disclosure and therefore the ability to check for themselves because the risk of potential lawsuit is rather high. Despite it being illegal without a disclosure, there are still many homes in the United States where lead-based paint was used.

Material Facts

Material facts are generally defined as anything that would affect a potential buyer's decision to purchase your MLS listing, or the price and terms the buyer offers. For example, if you know about a defect in the home such broken appliances or faults in the structure's integrity, then you must disclose this as a material fact. As we have mentioned earlier, laws vary from state to state. In California, sellers are supposed to disclose to potential buyers if a death has occurred in the house or on the property if it occurred within the past three years. In most states, though, this is not the case.

Causes of Death

Most people are usually fine with the news of natural death in the home. Naturally we expect the elderly to pass sleeping in their beds. But many people would not comfortable if the death were violent or gruesome. Some people may believe that the home would be haunted by those whom have passed in the home and therefore pass on your property.

If you have the specific details, you should disclose them to the potential buyer. However, do be sure to check your local laws once again on this matter. In some states, if a person has died of AIDS, you are not allowed to disclose this, as AIDS falls under a protected class in discrimination laws.

External Disclosures

Some states require what is known as external disclosures about things that currently do or could affect your flat fee listing in the future. These usually include mostly occurrences in nature (thus external) such as the following:

  • Earthquakes
  • Flood zones
  • Fire hazards
  • Air pollution
  • Noise pollution
  • Natural hazards
  • Zoning changes
  • Ground pollution

Home Repairs

Though it is a good idea to mention that you have updated things in the flat fee MLS listing, try not to mention that you have "repaired" something, as it gives the idea that there may be other issues with the home that need to be taken care of. Instead, said that you have had someone come in to stop a leak and there hasn't been an issue since. Do, however, let a potential buyer know that you have upgraded something like the electrical or plumbing, or that you replaced the roof. It adds a sense of security that these are not issues that should come up in the near future.

In summary: You may need to give certain disclosures to a buyer /agent that you believe may end up purchasing the home. As with all legal matters, you should consult an attorney to be sure that you are following all the proper local laws of your state.