Property disclosures protect real estate agents and their clients

On Behalf of | Mar 16, 2021 | Residential Real Estate Closings

Thousands of real properties change hands every month in Georgia. People get married and need a house in which to start a family or reach retirement age and are ready to downsize their living space. Landlords buy new properties to increase their revenue, and family members inheriting a house with their siblings may list it to split the proceeds among themselves.

As a real estate agent, it is your job to serve as the guide for those selling their home or buying one. There are risks for the parties on both sides of this process. If you represent sellers, as their agent, you need to ensure that they comply with state law when it comes to making disclosures about their property.

Sellers have to acknowledge known issues with the property

Unlike many states, Georgia does not have mandatory seller disclosure forms. However, state law does still mandate that sellers tell possible buyers about all known and latent defects to the property.

Talking in-depth with sellers about the condition of the property before you agree to list it can help protect you from legal and financial risks. They should make certain that buyers know about issues with the property, either through the inclusion of a disclosure in the listing or direct communication with those viewing the property.

Buyers without all the details can take legal action

Even if a seller lists a property in as-is condition, they should make a point of telling a potential buyer or their real estate agent about the known issues with the property. Whether there have been termite infestations in the past or the house has experienced foundation settling issues, buyers need to know about significant but hard-to-spot defects when deciding if they want to purchase the house and what price to offer for it.

Withholding information about issues will certainly help a seller command a higher price for the property, but it may also put them at risk for claims from the buyer. They might come back and make a financial claim against the seller or you as their agent for failing to disclose issues with the property. Such allegations could damage your reputation, affect what you pay for professional insurance and possibly even affect your licensing.

Sellers should be forthright and honest when listing a home

Your role as a real estate agent involves guiding your clients in some of the most complex and expensive transactions of their lives. The advice that you give them can help them minimize the risks that they take when buying or selling property.