I recently wrote a blog titled "7 Tips to Insure Buyers are Prepared to Write a Strong Purchase Offer." The first tip was to make sure the you understand the information on the seller's disclosure. In this blog my goal is to further explain the seller's disclosure for the State of Kentucky.
What is a Seller's Disclosure Form? It is a form that the seller can fill out that informs the buyer and agents about the history of the home. In the state of Kentucky the seller can choose not to fill out the form but in doing so, will cast some serious doubts about the condition of the home.
If the seller has no idea about the condition of the home then they can check the "unknown" boxes. This is most common when an estate home is being sold by survivors who have not lived in the home or by a bank owned home. It is also quite common to see all the "unknown" boxes checked when the seller has been renting the property. When the seller has no idea about the condition of the property they will often sell it "as is." They will usually allow inspections but they will not to agree to negotiate the correction of problems.
Some things to consider:
If the seller has been renting the property, but checks "unknown" for the entire property doesn't this make you wonder about the condition of the property? This would mean the seller (as a landlord) either never repaired anything or are being willfully ignorant about the true condition of the property.
Check to make sure every line of the form has been completed. The directions to the seller very clearly state that every line needs to be completed. Here are the specific directions for this form KRS 324.360
INSTRUCTIONS TO THE SELLER: (1) Complete all numbered items. (2) Report all known conditions affecting the property. (3) Attach additional pages, if necessary, with your signature and date and time of signing. (4) Complete this form yourself or sign the authorization at the end of this form to authorize the licensee to complete this form on your behalf in accordance with KRS 324.360(9). (5) If some items do not apply to your property, write "not applicable". (6) If you do not know the answer to a question, write "unknown".
Key Reasons for Both the Buyer and the Seller to Pay Close Attention to This Form:.
1) In the state of Kentucky the purchase offer says that the buyer cannot ask the seller to repair any defect that is on the seller's disclosure. The insert below is a snapshot from the offer to purchase for the state of Kentucky. This is from the top of page three. It is part of the language for the third inspection choice. It is the choice I recommend for most of my buyers.
This is again referred to and emphasized on the inspection form. See item 3 on the insert from the Inspection Agreement Form below.
So sellers are protecting themselves from further demands of the buyer when they disclose any problems that exist in the home. This is one reason that it may be worth the seller's money to have an inspection before placing their home on the market. With a good inspection, the seller will be able to disclose any problems and not have to worry about the demands from buyers to have disclosed defects repaired.
2) A seasoned buyer's agent will have lots of questions about an older house that seems to be in "perfect condition" according to the seller. If the disclosure form shows few or no defects or repairs then that can be a red flag to the buyer's agent. When I see a disclosure form that is filled out completely and has a long list of repairs and disclosed defects I know the seller has worked hard to be forthright. I also know the seller has probably kept very good records of the maintenance of their home.
3) Filling out this form accurately and with diligence gives the seller assurance that there is very little chance of a lawsuit in the future. Making sure the Seller's Disclosure is completed correctly and thoroughly may be a good way to help sellers sleep well during the selling process and for many years in the future.
1) Reading the Seller's Disclosure carefully can be a big time saver. If you do not want to worry about replacing an old furnace or air conditioner then find out how old they are. If this is not disclosed, you can hire an HVAC professional to help you determine the age if it is worth your time.
2) Understanding exactly what has been repaired on the home can give you assurance that you want to move forward with an offer. There are certain things that can be very costly when maintaining a home. The roof is one of the best examples. Knowing that the shingles on the roof have been replaced in the past five years can give you assurance that the roof will probably last another fifteen years. It is easy for an inspector to look at the underlayment and determine the condition of the roof foundation. Just a quick side note: Often the buyer will state the "the roof" is five years old when only the shingles are five years old. Most people replace the shingles when they wear out but not the underlayment. Have your agent find out if the entire roof was replaced or just the shingles.
3. Having a Seller's Disclosure Form that is filled out with diligence is a good signal that the listing agent has done a good job helping the seller understand the importance of detail. Experience has shown it is also a good signal that the seller is someone that you can trust and will likely be easy to work with.
A Seller's Disclosure Form that is fully completed and easy to understand is a win win situation for all parties involved in the transaction of selling and buying a home.