Earlier this week I requested a Sellers Disclosure from a Listing Agent. My buyers were interested and before submitting an offer they wanted to review what the seller had to say about their house. Normally the sellers disclosure is online for agents to review, download and ultimately provide to the buyer for initials and signatures.
The agent I called told me she was 'helping her seller' fill out the sellers disclosure because she was elderly and needed assistance.
At first I thought it was really nice of the listing agent to help her client out. I envisioned her talking with her seller over hot tea at the kitchen table as she filled out all the little boxes for her client. Then my next vision was the listing agent explaining in court the "why & how."
In no circumstance would I ever fill out a sellers disclosure - for anyone. I'd love to help an old lady across the road or put her groceries in her car, but I'm not attaching myself to a legal disclosure document. It's not the seller I am afraid of, it's the legal exposure that concerns me. Now that I think about it, I may be afraid of a seller here and there - or maybe her kids.
"HE FILLED IT OUT, NOT GRANDMA!!!"
I typically go over a blank sellers disclosure with my sellers and have them fill it out. I am happy to explain what a french drain is and what a gas heater is versus an electric one, but I'm never going to advise a seller how to word a previous fire, flood or lightning strike. I would never want anyone to think I used suggestive wording to help myself or even my clients out, not when it comes to the sellers disclosure. The sellers disclosure is a tool and and an opportunity for the SELLER to be forthright about what they know about their own house.
If the selller disclosed to me they thought their home was haunted or that there was a murder in the living room then it's my obligation to tell them what the rules of dislcosure are and then advise them to get "legal" advice, it necessary.It really is that simple. It should be. And keep in mind if you don't disclose something - the neighbors probably will.
All known material defects must be disclosed. Client confidentiallity doesn't mean I'm gonig to keep my lips sealed about material defects. Sellers who reveal defects to their listing agent should know that their agent is requried to disclose that same information to everyone else.