What Are Disclosures in Real Estate?

Property disclosures are an important part of any real estate transaction—and depending on what the seller shares, they can make or break a deal.

What Are Property Disclosures?

Property disclosures are statements that outline a home’s flaws. They’re only legally required if the homeowner or the real estate agent representing the homeowner actually knows about the flaws; owners and agents can’t be held liable if they really didn’t know a home had a major problem and therefore failed to disclose it to the buyer.

These disclosures are required for issues that could negatively affect a home’s value.

What Types of Flaws Come Across in Property Disclosures?

Sellers and their agents have to complete several disclosure documents. To make sure they’re telling potential buyers everything, there’s typically a checklist a seller’s agent will follow. Home flaws you may see on disclosure statements include:

  • Asbestos

  • Clear health and safety risks

  • Doors that stick

  • Environmental hazards in the area

  • Faulty foundations

  • Insurance claims made in the past

  • Lead-based paint

  • Leaky roofs

  • Mold growth

  • Pest infestations

  • Renovations that were completed without permits

  • Repairs made in the past

  • Windows that won’t close

When Do Buyers See Property Disclosures?

In most cases, buyers will see property disclosures after the seller accepts their offer. Generally, the disclosures arrive at about the same time buyers are sending a home inspector to evaluate the property (did you know there are some things home inspectors won’t check?).

If you see something on a disclosure statement that makes you uncomfortable, talk to your Lakewood Realtor® so he or she can bring it up to the seller’s agent to learn more.

Can You Back Out of a Deal When Something Big Comes Out in Disclosures?

If you have the appropriate contingencies built into your real estate contract, you may be able to back out of the deal without losing your earnest money deposit.

Disclosure Information for Sellers

Failure to disclose the issues you know about your property can get you sued. That’s why California’s laws require you to share issues with buyers; if you don’t, buyers can later come back and say you hid vital information from them that prevented them from making an informed decision on whether to buy the home.

All sellers of residential real estate property that contains between one and four dwelling units must make seller disclosures under California law. There are a few exceptions, but your Realtor can give you the most up-to-date, accurate guidance when it comes to disclosures.

There isn’t a specific deadline, but the spirit of California’s disclosure laws asks that you give buyers disclosures in a timely fashion. That way, they can make an informed decision. If you don’t give the disclosures to the buyer by the time you’ve signed a purchase agreement, the buyer can terminate the deal.

Are You Selling a Home in Lakewood or Long Beach?


If you’re selling a home in Lakewood or Long Beach, we can help. Call us at 562-882-1581 to find out how we’ll market your house to all the right buyers so you can sell it quickly and at the right price.


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