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What do I have to tell a buyer about my home?

Selling a home is a stressful venture. You may have much to lose if you cannot find a buyer in a timely manner, so you want to take whatever steps are necessary to improve the chances of attracting and keeping a buyer. This may include applying a new coat of paint, removing clutter from the rooms and improving the curb appeal of your home.

No matter how attractive you make your home for potential buyers, you may still be aware of issues that may discourage someone from making an offer. Your fear of losing a buyer may cause you to cover these defects and keep quiet about them until you sell the house. However, that may be a serious and costly mistake.

Tennessee disclosure laws

The laws in every state are different and detailed, but the general rule of thumb for Tennessee and other regions is that the seller must disclose any defect in the home that may change the buyer's mind about the purchase. This seems counterproductive, but the principle of the law is to provide the buyers with a fair opportunity to make an informed decision about the purchase. Before the buyers sign a contract, they have a right to see your disclosure statement. Some important facts about disclosure statements include these:

  • Most states, including Tennessee, have their own documents that typically include a list of the rules for disclosure and a checklist of items in the house.
  • You will mark any items that you know contain defects.
  • The defects in the home are items about which you are aware, and you do not have to hire an inspector or search for problems to disclose.
  • You must reveal your knowledge of environmental hazards such as lead, asbestos or radon.
  • You must reveal your knowledge of any easements or encroachments.
  • The disclosure document will also ask you about changes you may have made to your home that may not be up to code, such as additions to the structure or electrical upgrades.
  • You do not have to reveal whether anyone in the home suffered from HIV or AIDS, or whether someone died violently in the home unless it affects the structure of the home.

There may be other items that relate to your circumstances, and a careful review of the disclosure form with an attorney before presenting it to potential buyers may protect your interests if someone purchases your home then takes legal action because of a defect you did not reveal.

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