Owner, Carswell Real Estate Co. Inc.
Realtor Lisa Carswell answers questions about what homeowners are required to disclose to buyers concerning the condition of a house during the selling process.
At what point during the selling process does an owner have to disclose information about a house to a buyer?
[The owner discloses information] normally during the option period. An option period is a negotiable date, meaning that once it’s an executed contract, you [have] 10 days to make sure the house is in working condition and there’s no issues during that time frame. If you do that and everything is okay, then you move forward. But if for some reason there is a problem with the house, and we found it during the inspection time, then the buyer can actually back out. The option period is a negotiable time frame. Normally, an agent may put 10 days, [but] the seller may come back and say, “Well, I’m only going to give you seven days.”
What happens if an owner does not disclose information about a house? What options does a buyer have?
Say for instance [the buyers] find out that [the sellers] did not disclose that a house has been flooded, and then the neighbors next door tell the buyers that the house has been flooded—the buyer can then sue the seller of the house.
Does unfixed damage cause a home’s price listing to go down?
If you don’t fix [the issues], yes. If you have maintenance done on your home every six months and you maintain your home, you can get what you want for it. But if you don’t want to maintain your home, you’re not going to get what you want for it.
How could the recent flooding event affect market prices?
It will lower the value of some of the homes that did get flooded—anywhere from 10 to 15 percent.
What condition does a home need to be in to sell if it has been flooded?
If [the home has] flooded, it needs to have the Sheetrock in [and] it needs to have a mold testing prior to the sale to make sure there’s no mold issues. Fresh carpet, new paint [and] the basics that you need to do to sell your home. Even if your house isn’t flooded, those are the items that you should make sure are updated, fresh and clean to make sure the house will sell.