What are sellers required to disclose when listing a home in Connecticut?
And what to keep in mind when reviewing the seller's disclosure as a buyer
In this article:
There’s a lot of information thrown at buyers when looking at a listing, but one of the most important materials to consider is the state-mandated residential property condition disclosure report.
This form asks sellers to answer "Yes," "No" or "Unknown" to a series of questions touching all aspects of the condition and history of the property — from heating and plumbing to roof leaks to termite and pest problems. Sellers are required by law to complete and certify before a sales agreement is signed. Per state statute, sellers can be fined $500 if they do not provide the buyer with the form.
Let’s walk through what sellers should keep in mind with the disclosure form.
What does the disclosure form include?
In total, the form includes about 40 questions giving sellers the chance to disclose information on a range of issues, including not limited to:
- General information (how long the seller has owned the house and when it was built)
- Land use restrictions
- Past or present litigation associated with the property
- Heating problems
- Underground fuel tank information
- Hot water, plumbing, and sewage problems
- Air conditioning and electrical system issues
- Carbon monoxide, smoke detectors, fire sprinkler problems
- Foundational issues, basement leaks, and water pump problems
- Roof leaks
- Whether the home is insulated
- Issues with siding, chimnies, walls, ceilings, patio, deck, and driveway
- Fire damage
- Water drainage and damage
- Termite or pest problems
- Presence of asbestos, radon, lead paint, or plumbing
The form asks sellers to answer each question as “yes” “no” or “unknown” and includes room to elaborate if needed.
How accurate is the disclosure form? If it shows no issues, do I still need an inspection?
The information provided on the form is only based on the seller’s best knowledge, as sellers usually do not perform their own inspection. The form should be seen as an initial starting point that lets buyers know what to look out for when completing their due diligence. The form does not supplement an inspection performed by a professional, as there could be undetected issues that an inspection would later flag.
Sellers are not required to complete their own inspection, though if an inspection ordered by a buyer uncovers newfound issues, the seller has a duty to update their disclosure report accordingly.
It’s advisable for a seller to be as forthright as possible to avoid surprises later on in the process that may kill the deal. It’s better to let buyers know about all issues upfront so as to not waste anyone’s time. Generally speaking: when in doubt, disclose. And if a seller knows of a past problem that has since been fixed, make sure to explain when and how it was fixed. This will put the buyer at ease.
Can a buyer sue the seller if something is not disclosed?
Suing a seller over a non-disclosure is tricky because a buyer would have to prove that the seller knew of an issue at the time of completing the form and intentionally withheld that information to deceive.
This is why it is important for a buyer to have a professional expert complete an inspection to catch anything a seller missed or withheld.
Hire an experienced attorney to oversee your real estate closing
Having an experienced attorney by your side to oversee all the fine details can make big difference during the real estate closing process.
At Pederson Real Estate Law, Attorney Charlene Pederson has been helping Connecticut clients through residential real estate transactions for over 25 years. If you need an attorney for a closing in the lower Fairfield County, CT area, contact us today for a free consultation.