Thinking about selling your house in Vancouver, Richland, Kennewick, or Pasco, Washington? Wondering what you are legally required to disclose about a property in Washington State to sell it? It’s natural to have questions about this. The primary thing you will want to understand from the get-go is that being honest and acting with integrity and in accordance with the law when you sell your house not only helps avoid any potential lawsuits but protects you and your family’s financial future.
The bottom line is that trying to hide things like defects, damage, and other issues will only come back to haunt you in the long run. Why is this such a big deal? The number cause of law suits in real estate is non-disclosure. That’s right, trying to hide something about the house in order to inflate the asking price or make a quick deal is the #1 reason people go to court over real estate.
Protect Your Interests by Knowing What You Should Be Disclosing
Legally speaking, you are required to disclose anything that could negatively affect the value of the house or property. The following is a partial list of the types of things you will want to disclose when selling your house in Vancouver or the Tri-Cities area in WA:
- Any issues with the foundation like cracks that could cause structural damage if the house experiences any further settling.
- Issues relating to the property itself such as poor soil, drainage problems, issues with flooding.
- Irregularities or issues with the cooling and heating systems that need to be addressed.
- Any issues with the plumbing, sewer, or pipes should be disclosed as water damage can lead to the most expensive of all home repair.
- All documentation you have concerning insurance claims or repairs you’ve made on the home or property in the past. This would include details of the work done and the construction materials used.
You will also want to make sure you comply with local and state guidelines on any more complex disclosures that may be required. These can include hazard zones such as earthquake, flooding, and other environmental factors. And, while it may not be required in your area, disclosing past violent crimes up front is a good rule of thumb to follow.
Avoiding a Law Suit over Non-Disclosure
By disclosing issues with the property, you are helping the buyer to make an informed decision on their purchase. This is the best way to proceed. It can be very easy for even small omissions to snowball out of hand and end up compromising you legally. The safest way to proceed is to know with certainty any issues your home may have rather than leave them unexamined and hoping they aren’t a big issue only to learn during negotiations it’s a large issue. This may cause you to slash your asking price in response.
Some key things you can do to avoid a lawsuit over non-disclosure:
- Have your home inspected before you put it on the market to make certain you know all the possible issues it has and to what extent they can affect your asking price.
- Review the disclosure laws with your broker or attorney to ensure you are in compliance. They likely can give you an easy to follow checklist.
- Collect & Retain All information about repairs, insurance claims, etc. on the property and have them available. Keep notes on the scope and materials used during any such work.
Ultimately, being dishonest can and likely will result in a lawsuit if you are found out. The legal costs of such a lawsuit can be huge. What’s more, a sale can be rescinded, leaving you far worse off than you were in the first place.
If you are looking to sell your home in Vancouver, WA or any other major metro area in Washington State and have questions, Summit Development has the answers. Just give us a call or fill out the form on our contact page.