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What Needs To Be Disclosed When Selling A House In California?


There are so many things to reveal when you're selling your home, making it hard to sell your home even in the best of times. There are many difficulties that may arise in the sale of a home, so to get a good price, it's no surprise that sellers want to make their property look as good as possible. In California, there are strict rules about what you have to tell the buyers of your home. Failing to reveal facts about your house could expose you to a non-disclosure suit. Schorr Law lawyers are here to help you solve these problems and avoid them, so please keep reading some of the top things to reveal when selling your home.

By Stacey Baca - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Five Things to Disclose When Selling Your House

Property Taxes

When you sell a home in California, the local assessor will reassess its value and the property taxes will change. As a result, you do not have to tell your purchaser what taxes you pay at the time of purchase. However, you do need to provide the purchaser with a document that includes a specific language telling them that they may be subject to an additional tax assessment. The requirements for disclosure are set out in Section 1102.6c of the California Civil Code.

The Form

Every person who sells real estate in California must complete and provide the purchaser with the required form. This form is commonly referred to as the "Transfer Disclosure Statement." When filling out the disclosure statement, you will tell your purchaser all kinds of information about the property: the age of the roof, whether the property is attached to the public sewer system, or even if there are noise problems in the neighborhood. It's important to fill out your form truthfully and completely, or you might find yourself being sued by an angry buyer who lately discovers that sticky garage door that you never got around to fix.

Death At The Property

In California, sellers have to tell the buyer if the death in the home has occurred at any time in the last three years. This includes death on the basis of most natural causes (some types of death, such as AIDS, can not be disclosed). If the buyer comes out and asks about a death that occurred at any time, even more than three years ago, the seller is required to give a true answer.

Toxic Substances

Filling out the Transfer Disclosure Statement is not the end of your obligation to make things known to your purchaser. You are also required to inform the purchaser of any material defect that could harm the value of the property that is not readily apparent to the purchaser. This means that if you know about a harmful substance in your home, such as lead paint or asbestos, you have to disclose it. Some of these substances require specific disclosures in order to comply with the law, so be sure to check with your realtor to make sure that you are in compliance.

The Water Heater Strap

California has earthquakes, and a surprising amount of damage can be caused by the tipping of a water heater when the ground is shaken. Electrical shorts can set fire, hot water can damage your property, and even the falling tank itself can cause damage. As a result, any real estate seller that contains a water heater must certify to the purchaser that the water heater has been braced, anchored or strapped to resist falling due to earthquakes. Certification is often part of the Purchase and Sale Agreement or the Homeowner's Guide to Earthquake Safety, which your realtor should provide to the purchaser.

Disclosures Required of Real Estate Agents

When it comes to the transfer of residential real estate, certain information must be disclosed by real estate agents. For example, an agent must provide a real estate transfer statement, disclose any agency relationship with the seller, and provide information on the selling price. The agent must also disclose the negotiability of any real estate commissions. These documents must be signed and dated before they are delivered to the prospective purchaser. California law also requires agents to disclose if there has been a death on the property in the past three years. Agents must also advise prospective buyers to check the national registry for sex offender locations.

Failure to Disclose

If the seller of the property or the real estate agent of the seller does not disclose what is required by law, they shall be liable for the actual damages suffered by the purchaser. The sellers can not omit information, nor can they provide false information to the prospective purchaser. The sellers are obliged to forward to the prospective purchaser any written expert assessments or inspections carried out on the property. Failure to disclose will not affect sales, but the responsibility for repairs and damages rests with the seller.


Do You Need a Real Estate Agency to Help Sell Your Home?

Sexton Group Real Estate Property Management in Berkeley, California is a boutique real estate company specializing in residential sales as well as property management services for properties throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. We have 2 offices to serve you, one in the heart of Berkeley and the other in the heart of Lafayette, California. The Sexton Group encompasses the essence of Berkeley’s charm and Lafayette’s family-oriented vibe all with a relaxed, down-to-earth nature. We are an amazing group of agents whose wealth of experience spans more than 25 years in the industry.  Looking to sell a home in Contra Costa or Alameda County? Contact us today for your free consultation!