Property Disclosures and What They Don't Say

Real Estate Agent with Fred Real Estate Group

Waving Red FlagProperty Disclosures in Oregon are often the source of contention and fact finding missions.  When a seller lists their property for sale they are required to complete a 4 page disclosure statement (really only 2.5 pages of questions) that asks all kinds of questions.

Buyers are provided this disclosure during the escrow period and sometimes prior to escrow.  By law a buyer has 5 business days to review and withdraw from the contract if they disapprove of the disclosure.  Each question has a series of boxes for the seller to check.  The choices they have are yes, no, unknown and on some of them n/a

Many Central Oregon Sellers are absentee owners, those of second homes, vacation properties or investment rentals.  When these sellers complete the property disclosure they often times know nothing about some of the questions.  A couple examples are; Has this home ever been used as a drug manufacturing or distribution place.  Since a seller does not want to say no and have the buyers find out from the neighbors that the past tenants were selling from the property they will often say unknown.

What does this do to the buyer?  It raises a big red flag - they generally assume that unknown on this question is a real yes.  Central Oregon does not have an easy website to verify this information - and very few of the homes - in fact last I checked only 1 in La Pine had been "condemned" due to manufacturing. (that home has been torn down and a new home sits on the property now)

Another question that is often confusing and causes red flags concerns underground tanks - almost every disclosure in La Pine should say yes there are underground tanks - however they are septic tanks not oil tanks and you should differentiate this.  If the box is marked yes the Seller should mark what type of tanks are on the property.

My message here is two fold - Sellers please answer these questions accurately and to the best of your knowledge - if you do not know the answer - maybe you should do a little checking instead of giving the buyer a reason to doubt you.  Buyers when you receive this document please read it carefully, ask your agent questions - research those that you have issues with and let your agent be of assistance.


Comments (10)

Marchel Peterson
Results Realty - Spring, TX
Spring TX Real Estate E-Pro

THESA, good information for your sellers.  It is amazing at the difference in disclosures from state to state.  Our disclosures almost always go out to the buyer prior to an offer being made.

Sep 04, 2008 01:44 PM
Judy Greenberg
Coldwell Banker Long Grove - Buffalo Grove, IL
Coldwell Banker - Buffalo Grove - Long Grove Homes

Great info.. but more importantly, how did you get that little man to move... Can you plese give the link

Sep 04, 2008 03:43 PM
Lynda Eisenmann
Preferred Home Brokers - Brea, CA
Broker-Owner,CRS,GRI,SRES, Brea,CA, Orange Co

Hi Thesa,

This is an important post for many reasons

Your issue of disclosures is important to all. Depending on the laws of your state (and rescission) requirements can differ. I'm not an attorney, yet imho if the seller has "knowledge" then it could be a matter of disclosure.

Sep 04, 2008 04:44 PM
Jeff Belonger
Social Media - Infinity Home Mortgage Company, Inc - Cherry Hill, NJ
The FHA Expert - FHA Loans - FHA mortgages - USDA loans - VA Loans

Thesa... I hate when there should be a specific disclosure and there isn't... or I hate when there is a disclosure that is either misleading or vague. ANy of this can certainly leave a loophole or screw something up. You gave some good information.

Jeff Belonger

Sep 04, 2008 04:57 PM
Jennifer Fivelsdal
JFIVE Home Realty LLC | 845-758-6842|162 Deer Run Rd Red Hook NY 12571 - Rhinebeck, NY
Mid Hudson Valley real estate connection

Thesa - Good advice but if you are in New York most seller give the buyers a $500 at closing in lieu of filling out the form; this was the option from the State.

Sep 04, 2008 05:56 PM
Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

We have this disclosure in MD and VA.  In MD, there are usually unanswered questions which renders the document useless and the buyer can withdraw.  I'm constantly amazed that the listing agents distribute these documents with questions unanswered which we usually assume that the agent didn't read the document or the seller doesn't want to disclose something.

In VA, a caveat emptor state, we usually get a disclaimer. 

Sep 05, 2008 12:27 AM
Elizabeth Nieves
The Elizabeth Nieves Realty Group - Durham, NC
Bilingual Raleigh - Durham North Carolina Real Estate Team

Well...I see that this problem is NOT just prevalent here in North Carolina. Your last paragragh is the key...IF the seller doesn't know...they need to go find out! GBU!

Sep 05, 2008 07:58 AM
Sharon Simms
Coastal Properties Group International - Christie's International - Saint Petersburg, FL

Disclosure is an increasing problem as we have more and more foreclosure sales - the lenders don't have ANY knowledge of the property and generally have never even seen it, so their answer to everything is UNKNOWN.

Sep 05, 2008 10:48 AM
Trey Thurmond
BCR Realtors - College Station, TX
College Station , Texas Homes

Disclosure is  subjective...that is where inspectors come in.

Sep 13, 2008 03:53 AM
Veronica DeCarolis
Weidel Realtors - Flemington, NJ

What a great topic. Disclosures can be helpful but in many cases the sellers honestly do not have the answers to the questions. I agree, a home inspection should be used in tandem with the disclosure. Veronica

Sep 13, 2008 08:43 AM