A very important document, out of the many documents involved in the home buying process, is the disclosure statement. A seller is required to provide a disclosure statement in good faith to the buyer before the final closing. This disclosure form allows the seller to list out any defects about the home that the seller has personal knowledge of at the time of the sale. Delivering a written disclosure statement listing the known defects helps the seller avoid a potential lawsuit.
The Mississippi Real Estate Commission requires sellers to disclose all information and defects in the home, if known to the seller, such as:
• Structural Items and Soils: foundation problems, shifting, renovations, etc.
• Roof: Repairs, replacements, etc.
• History of Pest Infestations
• Defects in the Structure/Floor/Walls/Ceilings/Windows/Features of the home
• Land and Site Data
• Appliances/Mechanical Equipment
• Hazardous Materials: lead paint, asbestos, and other toxins
Since defects in a home may deter a potential buyer from completing the purchase, sellers may be hesitant to disclose small defects that may not be visible from a simple walkthrough of the home. Disclosing any known defects may actually save you time and money in the long run, however. Typically, home purchases are contingent upon an inspection, especially in the case of a mortgage. Lenders require a home inspection before lending money. The home inspection may reveal small defects that may not be visible at first or may be unknown to the seller. If a seller willfully fails to disclose defects in the home that they were aware of, however, then the seller may be held liable in the amount of actual damages suffered by the buyer.
There are many complicated documents involved in the home buying process, and it is important to protect your interest when purchasing or selling a home. Whether you are a buyer or a seller, Sullivan Law Firm can assist you throughout the process!
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Legal Content Contributor, Nicholas Lewelling, J.D. Candidate 2023