WHAT IS A SELLER’S DISCLOSURE NOTICE?
In many residential sales, sellers are required to provide information about the condition of the property, which benefits the buyer and seller. The five-page Texas REALTORS® Seller’s Disclosure Notice covers a wide range of topics. It asks sellers to list the appliances and systems in the property, current defects, past insurance claims, past inspection reports, and other conditions of the property.
Sellers of a single-unit residential property are required to provide a seller’s disclosure notice to a buyer. The notice details what the sellers know about the property at the time they complete and sign the notice. You’ll see more than one version of the notice. The Texas Real Estate Commission has one, which meets the law’s minimum requirements, and Texas REALTORS® has one, which provides more information for buyers and serves as a risk-reduction tool for sellers.
HOW IT HELPS SELLERS
The notice provides sellers a place to document and share their knowledge of a property and can reduce sellers’ risk of being sued. If a buyer claims after closing that he didn’t know about previous termite damage, the sellers can point to Section 3 of the notice where they indicated the termite damage—assuming the sellers fill out the notice correctly.
HOW IT HELPS BUYERS
It’s impossible to foresee a house’s every potential problem. A disclosure notice that details known conditions and defects can help provide a more complete picture of a property. Buyers may, for example, learn that a house has well water, plumbing problems, and aluminum wiring. That information can be used for inspections to further understand the extent of any issues.
The revised version of the Seller’s Disclosure Notice (TXR 1406) includes new questions about flooding, such as whether the seller’s property is wholly or partly located in a 500-year floodplain and whether the seller has ever filed a claim for flood damage.
You can view a redline version of the Seller’s Disclosure Notice, showing the changes and additions to the form. The use of the new notice is mandatory for transactions where the sales contract is executed on or after Sept. 1, 2019. It may be used on a voluntary basis before that date.
Sellers—not their agent—must complete the notice to the best of their belief and knowledge, but they are not required to do additional research for the purpose of completing the Seller’s Disclosure Notice. If sellers ask questions about how to complete the updated Seller’s Disclosure Notice, you should encourage them to consult an attorney.
An agent’s duties related to disclosure have not changed. Agents have a duty to disclose material facts they know about the property, but they are not required to do additional research for the purpose of making disclosures on properties they represent.
- A seller isn’t required to disclose if a suicide occurred in a home or that a sex offender lives nearby. However, a seller might want to voluntarily disclose such information since a buyer may learn the information from another source.
- A seller who has never seen or lived in a property he is selling is still required to disclose what he knows about the property. That knowledge can come from sources other than a visual examination.
- The questions on the Seller’s Disclosure ask if there are lawsuits or other legal proceedings that may directly or indirectly affect the property, which can include divorce, tax, bankruptcy, foreclosure, and heirship proceedings.
- A buyer isn’t required by law to sign a seller’s disclosure notice.
- Relocation companies with title to a property are still required to fill out the seller’s disclosure notice. They can attach the notice to any inspection reports concerning the property.
Need help understanding the seller’s disclosure or other aspects of a real estate transaction? Talk to your REALTOR®.