Practical Tips for Completing Seller Disclosures
This helpful Sacramento real estate agent is about to provide you with simple proof that the seller disclosures — which are required for a seller to complete to sell a home in Sacramento — are not as complicated and horrendous to complete as most sellers believe. Seller disclosures are definitely worse than that. They are filled with trick questions and big, unfamiliar words, but what do you expect from forms designed by a team of lawyers? See, one lawyer is OK. Two lawyers are permissible. But when you get more than two lawyers in a room, especially those who serve on a committee and must come up with a mutual agreement by noon or no Big Mac for you, well, all holy hell tends to break loose, and you get what we have in California: a transfer disclosure statement and a seller property questionnaire that very few sellers can fill out without guidance from their Sacramento real estate agent.
But that’s what I’m here for. To carefully guide my clients through the complicated process. We affectionally call the seller property questionnaire the SPQ. That’s because we speak in acronyms to annoy everybody around us and to disguise the swear words we can’t say out loud in public. You think we real estate agents are really talking about one thing when it’s totally something else unprintable. But that’s why you can’t tell us apart from the homeless people who wander around Midtown and mutter. Homeless guy or agent with a Bluetooth device? See, you don’t know, and it’s OK.
The second thing you need to know about seller disclosures is don’t ever worry about what you write on them. You can say anything to a buyer, and the buyer will still buy the home. Don’t believe me? I have 3 words for you: snake infested house. In Idaho. True story, those first-time home buyers bought it anyway.
Some of the questions on the SPQ can confuse a seller. For example, you might not know if you have received an order from the government that identified your home as being contaminated by methamphetamine. Is your home a meth lab? Well, I dunno. Maybe you weren’t home when the government showed up? Hey, you have to go to work, you’re not home all the time, tapping your toes, just waiting to see if some government official is gonna drop by to inspect your home for meth and hand you an order. I mean, let’s get real. We all have stuff to do.
What about that question about a death in the home? What is an occupant? Are they referring to an occupant who is a human being or could it be an animal like a dog or a cat? What about bugs? Actually, bugs are covered elsewhere in the SPQ. Section F asks whether a homeowner has encountered any problems with cows or pigs, swooping cranes or flamingos or those nasty little ants from Argentina, don’t cry for me. But if a person has died in the house over the last 3 years, a seller needs to disclose. That’s a long time. Regardless, nobody needs to hear all of the gory details, how you snuck up on your husband while he was sleeping and stabbed him in the head with an ice pick over and over, unless of course you can tell us all where to buy an ice pick these days. And don’t tell me on the internet.
Probably the most difficult question most sellers struggle with is whether to answer yes or no. I realize it is very tempting to answer with both. That’s why the lawyers who designed the seller disclosures realized it was necessary to explain under the “seller awareness” section that the questions should be answered by checking either yes or no. You would think this doesn’t need an explanation, but I am fully confident that it does. Because yes can mean no, and no can mean yes. And there is no I don’t know, and there should be because sometimes, let’s face it, maybe you just don’t know. Is your pet a dog or a cat? Hard to tell. Could be both. Your kid found it in the street. It’s not your critter.
This is when you should call your Sacramento real estate agent. Don’t ask the guy down the street or your mail carrier because they are hiding out from the guys who work for the government. Those meth labs are everywhere these days. Can’t swing a dead cat without hitting one.