When you put an offer in on a home, it is the seller’s responsibility to tell you in writing any problems, minor or major, that they are aware of inside and outside the house.
Those are called disclosures.
This is also the time when the seller should be upfront about most things, ranging from leaking basements to whether or not the home is in a historic district.
With some issues, sellers don’t want to divulge information that might turn buyers away. But if they don’t tell the truth and their buyers find out later, it could end up in a lawsuit which will cost everyone even more money.
These disclosures are usually given to the potential buyers before the offer is made or after the offer is accepted, and buyers are expected to sign the disclosure document. Every state has different rules about what a homeowner has to reveal.
According to the National Association of REALTORS®, most disclosures are handled by individual states. But federal laws apply to some issues, and homes built before 1978 need to be disclosed.
But some buyers have found that disclosures can be a little hard to understand. Here are some examples of the strange and odd disclaimers homeowners have revealed:
Needed To Buy A Car With The House
Gene Caballero, co-founder of GreenPal, was a little taken back when he read the disclosure of a house he wanted to buy. The seller insisted that his ex-wife’s car be sold with the property.
“It had been in the garage for a while and looked like it hadn’t been started in a very long time. But the owner was adamant about it being part of the home,” he says.
He ended up purchasing the home and donated the vehicle to a local nonprofit.
“The realtor said that it was the guy’s ex-wife’s car. He hated both of them and didn’t want to have to get in the car to move it,” Caballero says.
Everything Missing From The Basement
Some disclosures can get messy when certain specifications aren’t included.
“I placed a bid on a cute split-story house (in Illinois) with a fully finished basement with a second full bathroom. We bought the house, signed all the paperwork and were given the keys,” says Lisa Orban, author of “It’ll Feel Better when it Quits Hurting.”
As they were going through the house after the closing, they went down the basement, and it was empty.
Nothing was left but the concrete floors, walls, furnace and water heater.
“The interior partition walls, tub, toilet, sink, carpets and bar that had made up the basement were all gone. I contacted the real estate agent, and apparently, since a basement wasn’t actually considered a room, and we hadn’t required any of the ‘appliances’ be part of the sale, they had taken the entire basement with them,” she says.
Orban has lived and learned a big lesson.
“But who would have thought that I’d have to request the previous owners not to take the toilet or the walls,” she says.
A Spooky Clock
When Denise Supplee and her husband were looking for their first home for the family, they attended a second showing of a house while the owners were present.
“As we were walking to the second floor, the owners pointed to a globe clock on a built-in shelf – the ones where the pendulum goes round and round on a clock under a glass globe,” says Supplee, who is a realtor, owner of many properties and co-founder of SparkRental, an automated system for landlords.
She told them that the clock was there from the previous owner who lived in the home until she passed.
“She went on to explain that she was afraid to move it. This young homeowner began to tell me she thought if she moved it, the house would be haunted,” Supplee says. “Besides thinking her ideas of that clock were a bit unusual, I must admit, I was a bit scared. I was pretty young at the time.”
The couple bought the home anyways. After several months of painting and making the home their own, Supplee bumped into the clock, watched it fall and shatter into a million pieces.
“I did feel a pang of fear fill me. Afterwards, it became a family joke that we had a ghost in the house and even named her Martha,” she says.
Disclosures are an important part of the home buying process, but there are plenty of steps that need to be taken prior to it.
The first step is finding out your home loan eligibility, then deciding on what type of loan is going to be best for your individual home buying needs.