Reasons to Go the Extra Mile for California Real Estate Disclosures
Most home sellers with a lick of common sense moan about California real estate disclosures. The home sellers’ state and federal-mandated disclosures are a pain to fill out, but the ramifications of incomplete or inaccurate disclosures are potentially enormous. We had a closing temporarily held up yesterday when the underwriter suddenly requested a more thorough explanation, which I was able to immediately supply and avert the crisis, concerning a note the seller included on a loan document.
As part of my full-service listing job duties, I try to prepare my sellers prior to completing disclosures. I offer to review the disclosures with my sellers as they complete them; I guide, although I do not write the responses. One of my clients told me yesterday that I must have been a trial lawyer in another life. I hear that a lot but I am not a lawyer, I am a Sacramento REALTOR®. Further, like Joni Mitchell, I see things from both sides. Take the case of a home in which the seller has not lived, briefly toured when she initially bought it and now, some almost 10 years later, is selling. That seller still needs to disclose everything she knows or should know, which can often be nebulous, about that rental home.
This seller had the ability to obtain a list of repairs from the property manager to give to the buyers as part of her California real estate disclosures, so we obtained that list for the buyer. Because she made a brief mention about former repairs in a loan document, we also had to send the lender a copy of that list. If she had signed closing documents in an escrow office, that blip would not have happened but she signed with a mobile signer out-of-state. I had her so ingrained to disclose, disclose, that she wrote it right on a lender document! Fortunately, I had that repair list in my files and sent it directly to escrow.
It’s often not so much what you say in the California real estate disclosures as how you say it. You can tell buyers anything, and they will still buy that home. It’s when you don’t disclose or when future problems pop up down the road that all holy hell breaks loose. Take that poor guy from San Francisco who had the worst luck ever. First, the city red-tagged the home on his birthday. The next day, while the guy was still in Ohio at his father’s funeral, city workers demolished his $2.1 million cliff-side home with panoramic ocean views, deeming it suddenly unsafe.
The culprit was most likely either groundwater or an 8-inch water line that broke or both. How would you like to come home and find your house gone? Especially after such a personal tragedy? I predict lawyers will probably find plenty of plaintiffs. If you’d like a top producer Realtor to represent you, please call Elizabeth Weintraub at 916.233.6759.