What Must Be Disclosed When You Sell a Home?
Property transactions in the State of Tennessee are governed by both federal and state laws. When you buy or sell a home in Tennessee, it is vital to work with a who is experienced and familiar with Tennessee’s real estate laws and regulations.
When you sell a home in this state, the law requires full disclosure. This means the law requires you to tell the whole truth about the home, to the best of your knowledge. If you are purchasing a home, the law protects your right to be told the truth about it.
If you are selling a home, you should understand that full disclosure about any defects or other potential problems in the home actually benefits you. Without the requirement for full disclosure, you could be sued by the homebuyer at a later date over an undisclosed defect.
What is the Residential Property Disclosure Act?
Tennessee’s Residential Property Disclosure Act requires sellers of residential real estate to complete a disclosure statement that tells buyers about the condition of a home and property. Failure to disclose a defect or another problem can cause the cancellation of a sales contract and be the basis of legal action.
The Act applies to all sales of residential property in Tennessee that consist of at least one but not more than four residential units. Even if real estate agents are involved in the transaction, the Residential Property Disclosure Act applies. Disclosure statements must be comprehensive and precisely detailed.
A disclosure statement must include basics such as the address and age of the residence. Disclosure requires a seller to list any appliances included with the sale and to indicate their condition. Sellers also must disclose any known malfunctions or defects in the home’s mechanical or structural components.
What Else Does Disclosure Include?
A seller must fully disclose a home’s condition, including “material defects.” Generally speaking, a material defect is any condition that may influence a buyer’s decision. Sellers may make disclosures based only on the knowledge they have and are not held liable for defects they did not know about.
While every Tennessee home has unique features, a disclosure statement should almost always include the condition of standard items such as plumbing, roofing, heating, and air conditioning, as well as the existence of foundation cracks, termites, or any other known or potential problem.
A disclosure statement should also include a list of any other conditions that affect the home, including but not limited to encroachments, environmental hazards, drainage or flood problems, or remodeling work that was completed without a permit or without compliance with building codes.
When Should You Call a Real Estate Attorney?
If you are selling or buying a home in or near the Kingston area or anywhere else in Tennessee, you should seek and rely on the advice of an experienced who will make sure that every aspect of your property transaction is compliant with Tennessee law.
Whether you are the buyer or the seller of the home, you should contact an attorney as early as possible in the transaction process. Your attorney will examine all of the legal and real estate documents pertinent to the transaction and will ensure the protection of your long-term interests.
Disclosure generally lets homebuyers know what they are purchasing, but disclosure is not an ironclad guarantee that there are no defects or problems with a home. The disclosure statement is – or should be – simply an honest description of a property’s known defects and other problems.
What if a Full Disclosure Isn’t Made?
The failure to make a complete and accurate disclosure statement may prompt a lawsuit from the homebuyer, and the seller could be ordered by a court to pay not only for repairs but also for punitive damages and for the homebuyer’s court costs and attorney’s fees.
Under the Residential Property Disclosure Act, a homebuyer has one year from the date that the buyer first received the disclosure statement (or the date of the closing or the occupancy, whichever occurred first) to file a lawsuit against the seller for misrepresentation.
Lawsuits that are based on the Residential Property Disclosure Act usually claim that the seller of the property had knowledge – which the seller claims not to have had – of a defect that was found by the buyer after the transaction was completed.
How Are Disclosure-Related Lawsuits Handled?
If a disclosure-related lawsuit cannot be settled through out-of-court negotiations, a Kingston real estate lawyer will take the case to trial, where a determination of the seller’s honesty must be based on circumstantial evidence and an assessment by the jury or judge of the seller’s credibility.
If you decide to sell a home in the Kingston area, schedule a home inspection before you put the home on the market. That home inspection will make you aware of any issues that should be disclosed, and it reduces the possibility that a disclosure-related lawsuit may take you by surprise in the future.
If you are unsure about any aspect of preparing a disclosure statement, ask your Kingston real estate attorney for advice. The right attorney will ensure that your disclosure statement is accurate, complete, and fully in compliance with Tennessee state law.
A Real Estate Lawyer is a Wise Investment
Real estate is almost always a wise investment, so when you buy or sell a property, you can’t afford for anything to be wrong or go wrong. That’s why, when you retain the services of an experienced Tennessee real estate lawyer, you’ll be making another wise investment.
Avoiding court is almost always in everyone’s best interests, but if a real estate dispute cannot be settled in any other way, a Tennessee court will resolve it. You need a real estate lawyer who is experienced and skilled in real estate law, contract law, negotiation, and litigation.
Let Davis Law Firm Advise and Represent You
In the Kingston and Crossville areas, attorney Tyler Davis and the team at Davis Law Firm will see to it that your rights and interests are protected in every step of a real estate transaction. We answer your questions, address your concerns, and make the transaction as smooth as possible.
Tyler Davis is an award-winning Tennessee real estate lawyer who knows how to resolve the most difficult real estate disputes. He heads up a legal team that has built a reputation for legal excellence and outstanding client service.
Before you buy or sell a home, learn more by contacting the Crossville or Kingston offices of Davis Law Firm at 865-830-6286, and our team will provide a no-obligation evaluation of your legal goals and needs.