During the course of any real estate transaction you will receive a number of disclosure forms from sellers, agents and others. Each serves a particular purpose or meets a specific legal requirement, and, taken as a whole, all disclosures attempt to inform buyers about important aspects of buying a home. There is a temptation to ignore some of the forms when there are so many. Try to resist this temptation and use the information that each disclosure provides you as potentially important information you should have as a homebuyer.
Below is an annotated summary of most of the key disclosures you will see.
Description of Disclosure
Describes types of relationships between real estate agents and buyers and sellers. The purpose is to make it clear to buyers and sellers just whose interests the agent is representing. (Note: The law allows an agent to represent both buyer and seller, but only with the informed consent of each. At Landmark, we only represent buyers, because we believe it is impossible for one agent or agency to represent the best interests of two parties who have different interests.)
Sonoma County Disclosures and Disclaimers Advisory
One form for general disclosure regarding a number of topics that apply to real estate transactions in Sonoma County.
Real Estate Transfer Disclosure (TDS)
California law requires that a seller in most residential property transactions provide the buyer a specified written disclosure statement about the condition of the property. In addition, any agents involved in the transaction must provide the buyer with a written disclosure of the results of a visual inspection of the property.
Smoke Detector and Water Heater Statement of Compliance
The seller must provide a buyer with a written statement representing that the property is in compliance with California law regarding smoke detectors and water heater bracing.
The seller of a property subject to the lien of a Mello-Roos community facilities district must make a good faith effort to obtain from the district a disclosure notice concerning the special tax and give the notice to the buyer.
Disclosure Regarding Lead-Based Paint Hazards
This disclosure is required prior to the buyer signing an offer, when the home was built before 1978 and an FHA mortgage will finance the purchase.
Environmental Hazards Disclosures
The seller has an obligation to disclose any known environmental hazards to a buyer. Agents involved in the transaction may provide you a booklet prepared by cooperating state agencies addressing environmental hazards.
Natural Hazards Disclosure
Sellers are required to disclose if the property is in an area subject to certain natural hazards like floods, fires, etc. Often seller’s or seller’s agents may provide a report verifying whether or not a particular property lies within one of six hazard zones deemed susceptible to certain natural hazards, such as floods or wild fires, etc., as designated and mapped by state or federal agencies.
There may be other disclosures provided by agents in the transaction, since each brokers’ approach to satisfying the disclosure requirements is somewhat different. It is likely that you may receive some duplicate or overlapping disclosures as sellers and agents endeavor to make sure you are fully informed of any relevant issues.