Top 10 Legal Mistakes Made by Home Sellers — Part 2 | Print |  E-mail
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Wednesday, 08 August 2012 15:13

Real Estate Reality

By Carl Medford, CRS
Special to the Forum


Sellers can get so preoccupied with selling their home that they forget to ensure that the transaction stays within the boundaries of the law.


As reported by the California Association of Realtors, there are 10 commonly recurring legal mistakes made by sellers — we covered 1–5 last week, here are the remaining five.


6. Not disclosing known material facts affecting the value or desirability of the property.


We’ve all heard stories of buyers “discovering” issues after they move in — things the seller “knew” but failed to disclose. Nothing says “lawsuit” faster than a failure to disclose pertinent facts.


Hidden damage, neighborhood problems or any deliberate misrepresentation can have very expensive ramifications. The rule of thumb is, “Disclose, Disclose, Disclose,” and, if in doubt, “Disclose.”



7. Not providing the buyer with legally required disclosures.


The California Association of Realtors (CAR), not only provides standardized disclosure forms, they also publish lists of required disclosures. State-mandated Natural Hazard Disclosures are typically provided by third-party vendors such as Disclosure Source.


The seller is ultimately responsible to ensure that the buyer not only receives the required disclosures, but that they are correctly completed.



8. Not obtaining the buyer’s written acknowledgement of disclosures.


Banks are the worst offenders here; but, unfortunately, no one seems to be holding their feet to the fire. For us mortals, we’re required to not only provide disclosures but to ensure the buyer signs and returns them prior to closing.


When a buyer signs the seller’s disclosures, they are not giving assent; they are simply acknowledging that they’ve read and received the disclosures.



9. Not considering whether to require the buyer to remove contingencies.


Buyers are required, by contract, to remove contingencies on time. Failure to do so leaves the seller unprotected. It’s the seller’s responsibility to ensure that contingencies are removed, in writing, in a timely manner.



10. Not excluding items from the sale the seller wants to keep.


This one is simple: Before you sell, walk your property (in and out) and note every attached item you plan on taking. If you can, remove and replace these before going on the market. If not, include your list in the disclosure package to be signed by the buyer — and make sure buyers see it before they write an offer.


Our recommendation? Hire a seasoned, skilled Realtor to assist you in the selling process. They’ll guide you through the minefields and get you out the other end safe, sound… and sold.



Carl Medford is a licensed Realtor with Prudential California Realty in Castro Valley and a licensed general contractor. This article is sponsored by the Central County Marketing Association at



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