When considering divorce or separation, a significant issue is what to do about your house. Among many options is the decision to list it for sale. A little known fact is that many sellers end up facing liability for failing to disclose important facts about their home. This is the last thing you need to worry about when you are already facing the many upheavals and transitions associated with the divorce process. As a mediator, I work very closely with Phoenix realtors who help divorcing couples with these issues. One such realtor is Sam Miller, who offers these tips:
DISCLOSE, DISCLOSE, DISCLOSE
Probably no issue gets people in trouble more than disclosure in a real estate transaction. This can be especially true for separating couples where communication may be an issue. Put simply, as a seller, you are obligated by law to fully disclose all known important facts about your home whether or not you are asked. Lack of communication with each other is no excuse for failing to tell a buyer what you know about a property.
A Realtor can provide a specific Arizona disclosure form (SPDS) designed to help a seller with this requirement. It should be filled out completely and truthfully, signed by the seller and presented to the buyer within a few days of contract acceptance. Don’t hold back. If you have a scorpion problem, let the buyer know. If the roof leaks, (only a little and then only if it rains real hard), let the buyer know. A seller unsure of an issue should use the rule of thumb “when in doubt-disclose.”
Many sellers perceive the disclosure document as an admission of fault or warranty, weakening their position in the transaction. Just the opposite is true. Full disclosure protects the seller. It’s not what you tell a buyer that can get you in trouble; it’s what you don’t tell a buyer. Once you disclose, it’s their job to investigate and perform due diligence – within a contractual timeframe.
Bottom line: Fully disclose, scratch that off the list, and move on.
For more information, please contact:
5225 North Central Avenue #104
Phoenix, AZ (602) 570-8656
National Association of Realtors Short Sale Resource (SFR)
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