Put yourself in a home buyer’s shoes, and surely you can agree that you’d want to know everything about the property. Apart from ensuring your health and safety, you’d like to make sure that you are paying a fair price, right? So as a Georgia home seller, although you are not obligated by law to completely disclose everything that has to do with your property, you may find it beneficial to do so with your buyer.
Disclosure obligations in Georgia are not as tight as in other states. However, to protect home buyers, there are still loopholes in the law that allow for the indictment of fraud and misrepresentation among home sellers that fail to disclose certain things. So here are some points to remember when talking to your buyer:
Discrete Material Defects
You have to disclose all material defects when you sell your Georgia home. These don’t only include the most obvious ones like ceiling discoloration or broken glass windows. It also includes defects that aren’t seen by the naked eye. For example:
- Broken smoke detectors
- Damaged gas burner
- Broken HVAC system
- Hidden molds or infestations
- Rotting wood
As much as you don’t want to put a spotlight on defects in fear of discouraging your buyer, you still have to disclose the “not-so-good things.”
Repairs and Replacements Made
If you fixed some sections of your house in the last few years, it would be best to gather your receipts and repair activity reports. The benefits of doing this are:
- The receipts can justify your sale price
- It informs the buyer that you are indeed taking care of the house
- It saves the buyer time and money in case he/she is thinking about renovating
- It gives the buyer confidence and peace of mind
- It may entice the buyer, knowing that there is something “new” in the house
Land Use Limitations
Fences or hedges don’t officially establish boundaries. Therefore, if your property is involved in a land dispute, you should tell your buyer right away. Don’t wait for it to be discovered during the official appraisal or the title search; otherwise, you just wasted time if your buyer backs out during closing. Land disputes include:
- Your property might be situated in the wrong municipal zone, and the government has been asking you to move out in recent years
- Boundary disputes with your neighbor
- On-going correction of easements
If you inherited your property and didn’t know anything about land or title issues, it would be best to check your county records first. Should there be an existing land dispute, you can also consult with a local real estate lawyer whether you can proceed with the sale or not.
Information of Previous Occupants (Conditional)
The Georgia Official Code Annotated §44-1-16(a)(1) provides that all home sellers are required to honestly disclose things if they are asked by the buyer outright.
However, according to the Federal Fair Housing Act (42 U.S. Code, Sections 3601-3619 and 363) and the Georgia Fair Housing Law (Georgia Official Code Annotated, Sections 8-3-200 through 8-3-223), no one is allowed to reject tenants or house buyers based on religion, race, color, nationality, sex, familial status, and disability.
With this in mind, if your buyer asks about your previous occupants, specifically on information protected by the FFHA, you don’t have to answer them. But if they do ask, you can politely say that you are not allowed by law to share any of that information.
Events That Happened in Your Home (Conditional)
In cases where death and felony occurred in your property or your neighborhood, you don’t have to disclose any of that to your buyer (Georgia Official Code Annotated §44-1-16(a)(1)). If your buyer finds out, after purchasing, that something terrible happened in your area, he/she cannot sue you for that. But for the sake of peace and security, it would be best if you tell your buyer before he/she makes an offer.
Lead-Based Paint Hazards
Was your house built before 1978? If so, you should test your home for lead-based paint hazards before putting it for sale. Lead-based paints were prevalent in the mid-19th century and were only banned in 1978. Once lead-based paints deteriorate, it breaks down into house dust that the occupants can exhale.
If you’ve repainted your house since then, you are still required to conduct a lead test, considering that you have not done it at least once yet. Once you list your home, you’ll have to give your buyers an EPA-approved information pamphlet and a copy of the lead inspections report. Likewise, in the purchase and sale agreement, you should indicate that the buyer has to look out for lead-based paint hazards even if the inspection results show zero contamination.
If you are hesitant about going through the disclosures independently, you can work with us at HomeSoldGA. We can provide you with a comprehensive Seller’s Disclosure List and guide you through the rest of your home selling journey. Contact us today at 770-668-4888!