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FSBO Newsletter Volume Five

Buying and Selling Real Estate, Part 5 - Legal Issues: Disclosures, Lead Paint, Equal Opportunity
While the selling of real estate is a profession regulated by laws and licensing, it is perfectly legal to sell your own home in every state. Some home sellers are concerned about their ability to negotiate the legal issues regarding the sale of their property. While you should always use the advice of an attorney when legal questions arise or when tricky issues may be present, most of the day to day concerns related to the sale of your home are generally handled by the average home seller. In a later installment of this series we'll handle issues related to Sales Contracts and closing issues. Here are the main legal concerns buyers and sellers face up front:

  • Disclosures
    A buyer has a right to a fair and complete understanding of the condition of the property they are interested in purchasing. While a buyer should always verify the property condition with a professional home inspection, they will expect the home seller to share the information they may have about the home with them. This is done through the Seller's Disclosure Statement, a written document where the seller lists all pertinent issues that they know about the property.
    While this can be an informal document, in many states the laws regulate both the style and contents of these discolusre statements. You can find some free disclosure forms at a href="http://www.allthelistings.com/freeforms.php">FREE Real Estate Forms and Disclosures You should completely and truthfully fill in all that you know about your property. This is a place for factual information, not speculation. It takes just a few minutes to fill in. Keep a copy for yourself and present a copy to each prospective home seller as part of your contract paperwork.
  • Lead Paint
    If your home or property was built before 1978, you must disclose the possible hazards of lead paint. Whether or not your have lead paint in your home, the law requires you to provide a copy of a federally approved lead-based paint hazard pamphlet, available for free download from our seller resources page. This is simple to accomplish, but a requirement that you should take seriously, as failing to do so is a federal offense with a stiff fine.
    As with any other item, if you do know of lead paint problems you need to disclose them but this is not something to be alarmed about and does not necessarily have to be removed. You also need to give the buyer a 10 day period to perform their own lead inspection if they wish, this is a simple matter normally handled by a standard provision in the Contract.

  • Radon Gas
    Radon is a radioactive gas that has been found in homes all over the United States. It comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water and gets into the air you breathe. The U.S. EPA estimates that nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the United States is estimated to have an elevated radon level (4 pCi/L or more). The EPA recommends a radon test be done before any real estate transaction. You can perform a test yourself or have a radon professional perform the test. If the test does turn up problems, all is not lost, mitigation techniques are available to solve the problem. For more information go to the excellect EPS Radon page at EPA Home Buyer's and Seller's Guide to Radon which also includes links to state by state resources.

  • Settling, Flooding, Mold, Other Hidden Defects
    In some areas, people have lost their homes to hazards from improperly filled lots settling after the home was built or from sink holes. There have been cases from around the country of people getting sick from houses with significant mold problems. The professional home inspection provides protection here for both buyers and sellers, both to find any hidden defects and to prevent nasty misunderstandings and legal action down the road if something does later occur. As a buyer, I always insist on a home inspection to help uncover any hidden defects. As a seller, I counsel the buyer to get one, for a few hundred dollars everyone can breath easier.
    The other important thing to remember here is that you must disclose every fact of any substance of which you have knowledge. That spring flood last year where the water came in under the garage door, that noisy neighbor with the drag racing car he brings out every month, the rodents in the attic are all items you must disclose to the prospective home buyer in writing. If you feel the item is insignificant, you are better off to disclose it and let the buyer decide. A little thought and effort here in properly completing your disclosure here will avoid nasty arguments and even legal battles later. Remember, no one likes unpleasant surprises!

  • Equal Opportunity
    As a home seller you have a responsibility and a requirement under the law not to discriminate in the sale, advertising and financing of property on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin. This is a simple, common sense requirement easily met. Don't create the appearance of impropriety by advertising that a property would be perfect for a newly married couple, for example. A single mom may feel excluded by such a statement.

    AllTheListings.com Continues to Grow!
    We have been helping home sellers online since 1999 and now have over 10,000 active listings here at AllTheListings.com. That brings us to well over seven billion dollars worth of property listed, all with no real estate commissions! Tell your friends about the best site on the net where your For Sale By Owner home, business or commercial property can be exposed to the world at no charge, complete with all details and full color photos.
    Through our partnerships with some of the leading sites on the net, thousands of potential buyers visit our site daily. Thanks to all of you for taking the time to list your home with us and helping us grow. We receive testimonials regularly from people who have sold their home through us. If yours hasn't sold yet, hang in there, make sure you have an appealing price, description and photos. You might consider using our URL in your local ads, our new streamlined URL uses your listing number such as www.allthelistings.com/12345 to make an effective 24 hour salesperson for your home.
    Or, if you want more exposure, consider spending a few dollars on a featured property listing, for thousands of views daily and hundreds of people typically clicking on your property to learn more.

    Part 6 - Negotiating The Sale
    Back to the archives

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