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What are a seller’s disclosure obligations when it comes to real estate?

On Behalf of | Jun 15, 2023 | Property Law

You’ve probably heard the phrase “buyer beware” a few times before in your life, and that’s never truer than when you’re making a major purchase – and few purchases are bigger than a home.

One of the best ways you can protect yourself is by paying careful attention to the seller’s disclosures. Sellers are required to provide buyers with certain pieces of essential information about a property’s condition, including potential issues and known defects so that buyers can make informed decisions about a purchase. Understanding seller disclosure requirements is vital for both buyers and sellers to ensure transparency and allow for informed decisions.

What are Texas sellers required to disclose?

In Texas, sellers are obligated to disclose known material defects or issues that could affect the property’s value or pose risks to the buyers. These disclosures are typically provided on a standard form known as the “Texas Seller’s Disclosure Notice.”

Seller disclosures cover various aspects of the property, including its structure, systems, appliances and any known environmental hazards. Some specific areas covered include:

  • Structural and foundation issues: Any past or present problems with the foundation, walls, roof or other structural components must be disclosed.
  • Plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems: Sellers must disclose any known issues with plumbing, electrical wiring, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.
  • Water and drainage problems: Issues related to leaks, flooding, or drainage problems must be disclosed.
  • Environmental hazards: Sellers are required to disclose the presence of lead-based paint, asbestos, radon or any other known environmental hazards.
  • Pest infestations: If the property has experienced or currently has a pest infestation, such as termites or rodents, it must be disclosed.
  • Previous repairs or renovations: Sellers should disclose any significant repairs, renovations or additions made to the property and provide details about permits obtained.
  • Legal issues: Any ongoing disputes, liens or legal restrictions (such as easements or similar encumbrances) associated with the property must be disclosed

Despite these rules, sellers sometimes purposefully hide information that a seller should have, usually because they’re worried about how it may affect the sale (and the price). If a buyer discovers undisclosed issues after closing the deal, they may be in a position to pursue legal recourse against the seller.