what has to be disclosed when selling a house

Full Disclosure: What Has to Be Disclosed When Selling a House

Selling a house is never a simple matter. Not only are you parting ways with the place you’ve called home for a part of your life, there are rules and regulations you need to be aware of.

Some of them are obvious, like disclosing that your roof is on the verge of collapse but some of them are lesser known such as disclosing that your house may be haunted.

Each state has their own set of laws that regulate what must be disclosed when selling a home. And while it may seem easier to feign ignorance, doing so can cost you a lot more than just a prospective buyer.

With that in mind, we’re sharing with you what has to be disclosed when selling a house. Keep reading to learn the ins and outs of home disclosure.

Lead Paint Is Part of What Has to Be Disclosed When Selling a House

There’s a reason why lead paint needs to be on your seller disclosure list. There are no safe levels of lead exposure to humans.

It’s especially toxic to children and infants. Exposure to lead can cause multiple health issues in anyone and it especially hits your liver and kidneys.

If your home was built before 1978, then each party in a transaction needs to sign a lead paint disclosure. And this isn’t a state law, it’s a federal law.

Even if you think the lead paint has been removed, it still needs to be part of your real estate disclosure. The good news is that if your home was built after 1978 and you aren’t already aware of lead-based paint in the house, you aren’t required by law to investigate if there is any.

Known Toxins

Part of seller disclosure is to share your knowledge of any known toxins currently found in your home. Things like Radon and Urea Formaldehyde are extremely toxic to humans.

It’s also common to find asbestos and mold in homes. Keep reading to learn how easy it is to find these toxins in a home.


Between the 1940s and the 1970s, builders commonly used asbestos during construction. It was used in roofing material, HVAC duct insulation, plaster, and even vinyl floor tiles.

And the more you breathe in asbestos, the more damage it does to your lungs. It can lead to a form of lung cancer called Mesothelioma and it’s deadly.

Every bit of asbestos needs to be immediately removed from any home in order to make it safe for its inhabitants.


Keep in mind that not all mold is toxic. The mold and mildew that accumulates in your shower due to humidity isn’t deadly but may cause symptoms similar to allergies.

However, if you’re aware of toxic black mold in your home, real estate disclosure laws recommend you speak up. You should also have it removed immediately for your own safety if you find it in your home.

Latent Defects

One of the biggest parts of real estate disclosures is latent defects. Latent defects are problems with the dwelling that isn’t readily apparent by the naked eye.

A giant hole in the roof isn’t a latent defect because anyone entering the home can see there’s a hole there. Rather, a latent defect is considered something that can seriously affect the property value.

Some examples are past or present water leaks and roof defects that aren’t readily seen by the naked eye. It also includes problems with your electrical wiring or issues with the heating or air conditioning systems.

Often, a prospective owner will have your home appraised but you still need to be honest and upfront about any latent defects you’re aware of in your own home. Failure to comply could mean a lengthy and expensive lawsuit.

Paranormal Activity

Most people would assume that property disclosures about ghosts in a home would be a joke. Except, it’s an actual law in some states.

However, in Florida, the Standard Residential Contract for Sale and Purchase states: “Seller knows of no facts materially affecting the value of the Real Property which are not readily observable and which have not been disclosed to Buyer.”

Put in layperson terms, even if your home looks like the movie “Poltergeist” and you have your priest on speed dial to perform exorcisms, you don’t have to say anything to potential homeowners.

Murder and Suicides

The same Standard Residential Contract for Sale and Purchase also means you don’t need to make any real estate disclosures about any murders or suicides that may have taken place at your home.

However, most people are going to be extremely upset if they decide to buy your home only to find out a grisly murder-suicide took place a few years ago. They’ll also be upset if they find out Casper has been sharing your space for a while.

While these aren’t mandated by law in Florida, it’s usually best to be upfront about any unusual activities or emotional defects that have occurred in your home. If in doubt, ask your real estate agent what they think you should do.

Pest Infestations

While not all states include pest infestations as part of home disclosure, it’s a good idea to do so anyway. That includes any type of infestation whether it’s mice, snakes, or bedbugs.

In fact, even in cases where it’s a condo or apartment for sale and the neighbors, not the owners were the ones dealing with an infestation, it’s still a good idea to disclose the information.

Otherwise, the buyer may find out from their attorney and it looks like you and your real estate agent were purposely trying to hide the fact from you. It makes you look shady and others will wonder what else you’re willing to hide.

Actual Square Footage

It’s not good real estate disclosure practices to round up on your square footage. The actual size of your home is an extremely important selling point.

Real estate agents must rely on homeowners having and providing accurate information regarding the actual square footage of their homes. The problem arises when homeowners get too relaxed about listing the actual square footage.

Your square footage directly relates to the value of your home. Take the time to validate the size of your home. You’ll avoid any possibilities of being sued in the future by doing so.

Disputes With Neighborhood

It’s not enough for you to know the exact square footage of the inside of your home. Potential homeowners want to know how much square footage of your entire property.

They also don’t want to enter into a fight with a neighbor as soon as they move in over whose tree is causing problems with the power lines.

Especially if you’ve been involved in any boundary disputes. But even if you just have awful neighbors whose kids leave their toys strewn about, play loud music all throughout the night, and are generally horrible people to live near, it’s wise to inform possible buyers of potential problems before they buy your home.

Talk to your real estate agent about how to deliver potentially bad news that may turn off certain buyers. While you may lose out on a few buyers, others will appreciate your honesty and may not be bothered by the same things you are.

Other Neighborhood Problems to Possibly Disclose

And while it’s not a law in all states or counties that you need to share information about any potential sex offenders in the area, if you know of any, you should share that information.

Also, if there is any noise pollution from a nearby airport or train track, it’s a good idea to let buyers know. And in Florida, check to make sure you’re not in an area that’s known for hurricanes or flooding. Otherwise, you need to disclose those facts.

You should also let buyers know if you belong to a Home Owners Association. Often, there are rules and fees that are too restrictive for certain people to handle.

Title Problems

If there are any potential legal issues that can cause problems with the title, you need to include it with your property disclosures. Issues like if the home is a short sale and needs third party approval is something that needs to be disclosed to potential buyers.

If the home for sale is part of an estate sale, potential buyers should be notified. This is because often a home that’s part of an estate sale is subject to approval by the estate or probate buyers which could alter the course of a regular sale.

If there are any clouds on the title or a mechanics lien on the property, you need to include it in your real estate disclosures. These types of problems need to be cleared up before you can sell.

Any title problems can cause the closing to be delayed or halted altogether. This can cause a lot of problems for you and the potential buyer. Make sure you take care of any potential issues that involve the home’s title before you place it on the market.

Past Problems

Even if you’ve fixed structural damage, leaks, or mold infestations, it’s best to be upfront about the problems to any potential buyers. Not including past problems as part of your property disclosures could get you and your real estate agent sued.

Even if you’re selling your home “as is” you need to be upfront about all real estate disclosures. Neglecting to do so will cause you problems.

Work With Us

We specialize in selling homes that aren’t in pristine condition. We recognize that problems occur but we also know that it shouldn’t prohibit you from selling your home at a decent price.

Contact us today and we’ll help you determine what has to be disclosed when selling a house.

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