california disclosures when selling a home
A home seller asked me recently: are homeless people a material fact when selling a home in Midtown Sacramento? She said she’s lived in Midtown for so long that the homeless population in the area has become a fact of life, a daily occurrence, no different than the sun rising and setting every day. You come to expect it so you don’t pay much attention to it. Homeless people are prominent near homes in Midtown Sacramento, as well as other areas of Sacramento, and all over the world.
Except maybe for Cuba. You ask a Cuban about homeless people and they tell you there are none. That the government provides. Fifteen days of rations is the stipend in Cuba. People have to fend off hunger the rest of the month. While I did not see any homeless people during our trip to Cuba last year, it doesn’t necessarily mean they do not exist. Further, the close bonds developed through a strong family structure in Cuba is often such that there is always a place to go. Not quite the same as our families in Los Estados Unidos. Cubans will say if you see a homeless person, it’s because the person chooses to be homeless.
Not so in California. Many people are homeless because they have no choice. Still, they are not a defined protected class under the 7 protected classes of Fair Housing or even the extended classification by the state. But does that make homeless people a material fact?
I asked the seller if the homeless people sleep on her sidewalk, whether the homeless trespass on her property or throw stuff on her lawn? Generally with a disclosure, it’s a good idea to stick with what you know. You don’t want to go overboard, but you also do not want to under-disclosure or intentionally withhold a material fact. Material facts are anything that would prevent a buyer from buying the home or reduce the amount the buyer would pay for the home if such a fact were known.
Simply the fact a seller is asking whether a disclosure should be made often indicates the answer is yes. However, I suggest sellers stick to the facts and be brief. People get into trouble when they ramble too much. As a Midtown Realtor in Sacramento, my duty is to look out for my client’s interests. I’ve heard people mumble about Realtors not being forth coming or discouraging disclosures because maybe the transaction won’t close, and that’s such a dumb analogy. The fact is most Realtors routinely practice risk management to reduce the chances of either the agents or the sellers getting sued.
When questioned further, the seller said homeless people dig through the recyclables in the street, although not her containers because she does not put her recyclables in the street for pickup. Does she know for a fact those people are homeless? If the question is are homeless people a material fact, then the seller should probably verify whether those trash pickers are homeless. A good way to disclose might be people pick through the recyclable trash containers in the street and there are homeless people in the area. Those are the facts the seller knows.
Buyers don’t really care what sellers tell them, as long as a seller discloses. That’s the bottomline. If you’re looking for a Midtown Realtor in Sacramento, call Elizabeth Weintraub at 916.233.6759. 40 years of service.