Buying a home is serious business and there are some disclosures home buyers need to know before jumping into a very large purchase.
Below I’m breaking down the top 10 disclosures you need to know when buying a home.
Radon is an odorless, invisible, radioactive gas naturally released from rocks, soil, and water. Radon can get into homes and buildings through small cracks or holes and build up in the air. Over time, breathing in high levels of radon can cause lung cancer. (More info can be found by visiting the CDC).
Radon testing is NOT included in a typical home inspection – you have to ask to add it. Adding a radon test usually adds about $150-180 to your inspection costs. Well worth knowing if the home you’re considering purchasing has deadly gases in it.
To add to this… it’s such an easy fix. Even better – in almost every transaction I’ve worked on, radon mitigation has been negotiated to be paid for by the seller prior to closing.
If the home you’re potentially purchasing was built before 1978, the seller must disclose the presence of known lead-based paint in the dwelling. Most sellers will mark “unknown”; so if the home is pre-1978 and you’re concerned about lead-based paint, you can elect to order a professional inspection – just be sure the inspection falls within your inspection timeline as agreed upon in your purchase agreement.
A good (& licensed) home inspector will be able to bring light to the condition of the electrical wiring in the home. Be sure to double check that permits were pulled for any work done. You can check the electrical box for permit stickers or call the local municipality to inquire.
Keep in mind, older homes do not have to bring the electric system up to current building codes – they simply need to be compliant with the codes that existed when the home was originally built. You as a buyer can of course negotiate any updates you’d like; just know it’s not a state requirement.
Next on the list of disclosures home buyers need to know… sewer! This all falls within the plumbing family but these are some of the highest ticket items you want to avoid if you can.
Your home inspector can and will check plumbing including sewer line connections within the house. If there are any concerns at all I would highly recommend you elect to have a Sewer Specialist come out to conduct a sewer line inspection. These are sometimes considered “intrusive testing” so you’ll need to get special permission to conduct this testing – unlike a regular home inspection which is non-intrusive.
If there is a well and/or septic the property you’ll want to get disclosures from the sellers on location, condition, and compliance. Another one that can be a hefty price tag so better safe than sorry!
Testing of the HVAC system will occur during the home inspection but depending on the season sometimes you cannot test either A/C or heat. If the inspector shows concern about condition or age of the unit, consider negotiating a home warranty be paid by the seller in the sale.
Most home warranties kick in the day you purchase it and will cover the mechanicals during the pending process even before you close on the home.
An obvious concern for virtually every single buyer. Your home inspector should take into account outside grading, major foundation cracks, and hopefully will have a moisture testing device to use during the inspection.
Sellers are required to disclose any insurance claims they made on the property during their time of ownership.
Keeping an eye out for updates the sellers have made to the home and asking them who did the updates; was it a licensed contractor or did they DIY? Either way, check to see if permits were pulled.
A seller is required to disclose if they have experienced any pest infestations during their time of ownership but I’ve found that most sellers will down play and redefine “infestation” so they don’t scare away any buyers. Ask specific and direct questions about if they’ve had mice, ants, etc.
Lastly, and oh so important on the list of disclosures home buyers need to know… diseased trees! This is a big one that is overlooked during a lot of home inspections. With the naked eye you can usually point out if a tree is dead, but not always when it’s diseased.
If you’re considering purchasing a property that has a lot of large trees, consider having an arborist visit during your home inspection and give you their opinion. The cost to take down just one large tree can cost you thousands so this extra effort is well worth it!
I hope this information was helpful – it’s always my intention to educate and empower you to make the best real estate decisions for you.
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Top 10 Disclosures Home Buyers Need to Know