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Minimizing Surprises: The Importance of Seller Disclosure & Buyer Due-Diligence

By Thomas C. Schultheis
2019 President 
Santa Barbara Association of REALTORS®  

This week I would like to discuss the importance of seller disclosure & buyer due-diligence. The concept is very simple: buyers never like discovering something negative about the property on which they just spent their savings, and conversely, sellers do not want to find themselves in a lawsuit over an accusation of concealing important information.

The good news is that there are relatively simple ways to minimize the chances of the above-mentioned from happening.   

For buyers: While the seller is legally required to disclose numerous features to you, they cannot disclose what they do not know. This is why it is very important for you to ask enough questions and to have appropriate professionals perform inspections — to satisfy your concerns and to educate yourself about the property and its location. Because every buyer has a different set of concerns, it is important for you to voice those concerns to your Realtor so that he or she can help you investigate appropriately.

Please review all the disclosures your Realtor gives you, as these are intended to make you aware of various factors that are not always considered during a purchase. More times than not, the disclosures will not apply to you or be issues for you, but every so often, they bring to light information that you will be glad to know.

For sellers: This is your chance to inform the buyer of everything that you know about the property and to protect yourself from issues down the road. Please do not make assumptions about what is and what is not important for a buyer to know. Let him or her decide. Your Realtor can advise you on how to make appropriate disclosures.

Keeping maintenance records on your home will make your life easier, as sometimes it can be hard to remember everything that has occurred during your time as owner. Acting in good faith is essential. Correcting issues with a property is far more affordable than trying to untangle a situation in which trust has been lost and a buyer feels damaged.

The Santa Barbara Association of REALTORSⓇ urges you to consult with your REALTOR® to learn about what sellers are required to disclose and how buyers can perform ample investigations to gain sufficient understanding of a property. Visit www.sbaor.org to find a Realtor or an affiliate member.

Thomas C. Schultheis is a Santa Barbara native and a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties. In addition to his work on the Board of Directors of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors, Thomas holds a Broker’s license and additional designations. Thomas lives in Santa Barbara with his wife and their two-year old son. He can be reached at 729-2802 or SBRealtorTom@gmail.com.     

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