Don’t ask don’t tell doesn’t apply to real estate.

Real Estate Agent with HomeSmart SA541769000


When selling a home it is always good policy to disclose any known material facts about a house. Hiding something that may be important to a buyer simply because “they didn’t ask” has the potential to cause problems down the road and maybe even end up in a legal battle.

Disclosure laws differ by state so what must be disclosed in some states may not be required in others. To help home sellers meet their disclosure obligations the state REALTOR® Associations have developed forms that the seller can use. The forms cover the most common items that might be asked by a buyer. But often there may be other unique things about a property that are not covered on the standard form. As a seller, should you wait to see if the buyer will ask you directly about the planned toxic waste dump on the property next door? Probably not.

Even in states that have very liberal disclosure laws a seller can be held accountable for failing to disclose something that might affect the future enjoyment of the buyer. Under the rules of common law, the courts have often sided with buyers who after purchasing a home discovered that a seller hid important information about the property.

In Arizona, the laws on disclosure are very stringent. Even in cases where the seller is not required to disclose they may still wish to disclose to avoid any appearance of impropriety. Because even if the buyer doesn’t ask, the seller may still be responsible.

Today, we live in a highly litigious society. A lawsuit may end up costing more than the loss you would have suffered had you disclosed.

In summary, the rule is universal, honesty is the best policy. If you know something you should disclose.


 Joe Domino is a Realtor® serving the Phoenix & Scottsdale metro area. You can find more great information by visiting his website at


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Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Property Manager

Disclose, disclose, disclose!  You are so right that NOT disclosing could cost more than disclosing ever would.

Nov 26, 2018 10:44 AM #1
Bob "RealMan" Timm
Ward County Notary Services - Minot, ND
Owner of Ward Co. Notary Services, retired Realtor

Good advice Joseph Domino 480-390-6011 . I like to warn my clients who ask me if we can look at a FSBO that often a FSBO is a FSBO because they don't want to tell anyone what's wrong with the home.

Nov 26, 2018 01:20 PM #2
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

You got that right, Joseph!  Failure to disclose often ends up with the "F" word being used. . .That "F" word being FRAUD!

Nov 26, 2018 05:01 PM #3
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

CONGRATULATIONS Joseph, on having this blog FEATURED in the Old Farts Club group!  

Nov 26, 2018 05:01 PM #4
The Romero Team
Realty Executives - Albuquerque, NM
Realty Executives

Great reblog!

Nov 26, 2018 05:10 PM #5
Debbie Reynolds
Platinum Properties - Clarksville, TN
Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent

I just taught a class to potential new real estate agents tonight on disclosure. In TN, it will get you a big fat fine and possible civil litigation.

Nov 26, 2018 07:52 PM #6
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Great stuff, Joseph! Any approach like don't ask, don't tell is absolute nonsense, and especially the way you lay it out here. Nothing but agreement from me here. :) Feel free to follow back! 

Nov 27, 2018 10:37 PM #7
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Carol Williams If you're not diclosing, you ain't closing! Simple stuff here. Not advanced surgery here. :)

Nov 27, 2018 10:38 PM #8
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667 (MT), 914-419-0270 (NY), Broker in NY with Grand Lux Realty and in MT with (coming soon!) - Kalispell, MT
The House Kat

A seller who does not disclose what should be disclosed could be all happy and comfortable in their next home when someone knocks on the door and says, "Hello, you have been served."

That's not something anyone wants to hear!

Dec 01, 2018 04:14 AM #9
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning Joseph. You point is well taken. If you know and don't disclose you are foolish and it could ultimately cost you big time.

Dec 01, 2018 05:23 AM #10
Joseph Domino 480-390-6011
HomeSmart - Scottsdale, AZ
Real Estate Made Easy

The truth shall set you free.

Dec 01, 2018 11:43 AM #11
Mike Cooper, GRI
Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro

You are so right, Joseph. Disclose, disclose, disclose. I called a young couple into my office earlier this year. They had been nervous Nellies about everything. I found out two weeks before the closing, that the homeowner shot his wife in the basement, which led to her death a few weeks later. I wanted them to know because I was sure a neighbor would tell them. They were fine with it. They said, "We're from New York City. This happens all the time there."

Dec 02, 2018 07:21 AM #12
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

We've come a long way from "Buyer beware" that was the norm a few decades ago.

Dec 03, 2018 11:35 AM #13
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude


I think your title says it all! Disclosure is such a key issue and some sellers do not realize the liability issues that can arise by not disclosing certain imformation.


Dec 03, 2018 09:15 PM #14
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Joe, my attitude has been when in doubt over disclose... I always take the attitude, what if I had to stand in front of a Judge and had to say "why I did not disclose something?" and that has kept me out of trouble for the past 24+ years, Endre

Dec 03, 2018 11:34 PM #15
John Henry
John Henry Masterworks Design International, Inc. - Orlando, FL
Residential Architect, Luxury Custom Home Design

yes, best to disclose rather than worry about lawsuits in this important matter.

Dec 10, 2018 12:45 PM #16
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