Disclosures are the built-in protections when buying a home. The seller must tell the buyer about any known issues with the home, past or current. The law allows for these to be by-passed for situations where the seller has not lived in the home. For example, a home that is inherited or that has always been a rental property.
In San Diego county, the seller has to fill out both checklist forms and write-in forms. The buyer gets a checklist of all the features of the home as well as the specifics on particular issues. The first lists things like: gas heating, garage door opener, cable TV, etc. In the other, the seller explains what happened and what was done about it. For example: “The upstairs hall bathroom had a leak. Plumber repaired the leak. Damaged flooring was replaced.”
Each side’s agents are required to disclose their visual observations in writing to both parties. This adds two more pairs of eyes looking for things that may seem like an issue. Each room, and the exterior, is visually inspected and anything odd noted.
Preliminary Title Report
This report discloses who is the real owner of the property. So you assure yourself you are buying it from the legitimate seller. It also lists any encumbrances. Will the price paid be enough to remove all liens and give you free and clear title to the home? You can raise a concern based on this report, if necessary.
When buying a property governed by Conditions, Covenants and Restrictions (CC&Rs), you are entitled to know this. The seller discloses this fact. They then order a copy of the latest CC&Rs. Also the HOA’s financial statements and the minutes of the Board Of Directors’ meetings. From these you determine what you are buying into. The CC&Rs will tell you the rules which you will be required to live by. The financial statements will tell you if the HOA is being run properly. Will there be enough funds to do repairs and maintenance without additional funds from you? The minutes of the BoD’s meetings give you an idea of future plans. Could these increase your monthly dues? There are also disclosures on things like Earthquakes, landfills, quarries, airports etc to give you as full a picture as possible.
These are the basic, required disclosures. They can be supplemented by additional, optional inspection disclosures. I always highly recommend that the home buyer have a professional home inspection done. This type of inspection can uncover items that need repair or that will eventually need repair/maintenance.
If you need a Realtor who will actively work with you on understanding all of these disclosures, contact me at 760 622 5087 or firstname.lastname@example.org. I routinely do this for all my clients.