6 Things Owners Shouldn't Hide When Selling a House

     
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When you are selling your house, make sure to disclose the house's condition to potential buyers.  Even if you need to sell a house fast, don't hide it's defects.  Not only is it the right thing to do, you are legally liable to disclose any known defects about your house.  So, if you currently have a house for sale or need to sell your house, make sure you tell the buyers everything you know.

Pests

Whether you can see the termites or not, you can typically see the wood rot around your house.  Some homeowners will simply replace the most rotten wood and think they've gotten rid of the issue.  Well, unfortunately, the termites themselves have not been removed.  The homeowner has just given them another meal of new wood to eat!  Buyers beware of the following indications of prior termite damage:  new wood pieces, newly painted areas, wood that has been repaired with bondo.
Termites aren't the only problem.  Sometimes there are other bugs, like spider, wasps, hornets, and other creatrues that have called your home their home.  Rats, mice, and raccoons have caused tons of damage to houses.  
I used to spend $2,000 each year on my shake roof to replace shingles that a mother racoon would tear-off to get into the attic.  I love animals, but the damage was incredible and occurred 4 to 6 times each year.
Even if you have fumigated for these lovely little creatures, tell the buyer before you sell the hosue.  Why?  Because they have a likelihood of returning!

Neighbors and Noise

Speaking of pests, neighbors and neighborhood noise can be a real problem.  In fact, I buy houses from sellers who have such a problem with their neighbors that they absolutely must move and must move now!  Whether it's a disagreement over parking (typically public parking, for that matter), noise, or shared walls/fences, having an unfriendly neighbor can be incredibly stressful.  It may be that there is just a high degree of dislike, which makes it no less stressful.
Noise can be from neighbors, but it can also be from the local airport and living under the runway, or from the local train tracks, or from some other industry.  When a buyer sees a house to buy, it may be during hours that the noise does not occur.  This doesn't mean that you don't tell them about it.  All you need to do is tell them about the approximate time of the noise and how frequent it is.  It's up to the buyer to determine if they still want to buy the house.

Roof and Foundation

When you are selling a house, it makes sense to make the some repairs.  Just know that replacing a few shingles may or may not fix the leak that you've been noticing.  In fact, unless a roof repair has been done just right, the leak could still remain.  It's hard to put new over old and expect it to fix the problem.   It's not up to you to prove you fixed the problem, it's just up to you to disclose the problem and what was done to fix it.
Foundations are harder to fix, so unless you are going to hire a foundation specialist prior to selling your house, make sure that you disclose any issues, such as slanting floors or cracking in masonry.  A good property inspector will notice if a foundation wall has been repaired, especially if if was done improperly.

Plumbing Leaks

Plumbing leaks can lead to thousands of dollars worth of damage.  And most homeowner's insurance policies do not cover flooding due to plumbing systems.  If the sewer line backups, tell the buyer.  Even if you had the sewer line snaked prior to selling a house, you need to tell the buyer.  Plumbing issues tend to have their own long history, so document that for the buyer so that they are aware.

Systems' Lifespan

How old is the roof?  When was the water heater last replaced?  "I don't know" is not the right answer, but for many sellers, it's the easy way out.  Spend the time to research when your systems were last replaced or repaired.  With a little digging, you can find out.  These are big enough cost items that you probably can call the roofer or plumber and ask for their records.  Better yet, you should have the invoice yourself.

Non-tangible Issues

Was there a death in the house?  Have you seen ghosts?  Do you think it's haunted?  While these things don't effect the structure of the house, they still need to be disclosed.  Deaths MUST be disclosed on the CAR form.  I have heard stories of great grief from buyers who didn't know that a death had occured in the house.  
Imagine being a veteran, buying a house, only to find out that the previous owner, also a veteran, committed suicide in the house.  Horrible, but true.
So, even if you need sell a house fast, disclose all that you know when selling a house.  Not only is it the right thing to do, you are responsible for disclosing the history of the house.  Even when I buy houses AS-IS (no repairs, no contingencies), I still ask the seller about the house.  Why are you selling your home?  That's a great question and if it's because of any of the above, just tell the buyer.  It's the right thing to do.
Yes, I know that major repairs to a house can be a deal-breaker.  We buy houses that need extensive repairs all the time.  And, frankly, major repairs don't scare me anymore.  I can't tell you how many times I see the look of relief on a seller's face after they've told me all the things that are wrong with a house and I still want to buy the house.  Bottom line, it's about doing the right thing.  

 

inherited house
Jennifer Shenbaum

About The Author

Jennifer Shenbaum is a real estate investor based in Southern California. She is a veteran of the housing market crash of 2007. Best of all, she offers free remodeling ideas to all who ask.