Jim Valentine: The Seller’s Real Estate Disclosure Form

Jim Valentine on real estate

Beginning with the implementation of the Seller’s Real Property Disclosure Act in January 1996, sellers were required to complete the Seller’s Real Property Disclosure Form in connection with the sale of residential real estate in Nevada. The form is quite detailed and even contains two pages of fine print of Nevada law on the matter. The form and its completed contents can have far-reaching consequences, but are often granted only a glance or cursory thought by buyers and sellers. There are some things to know about the form.
The first is a recent change that states that “a seller’s agent should not complete a residential property disclosure form on behalf of the seller.” Very often, sellers ask agents how to fill out the form, but they are not allowed to help them. There are, however, a few questions that inevitably trip up sellers and require clarification from agents. Point 14 on page 2 talks about SNWA. It’s the Southern Nevada Water Authority, and it’s unknown to most people in Northern Nevada. It does not apply in the North. Article 17 is another article more prevalent in the South, it deals with private transfer fee obligations. To our knowledge this was not done in the North, but they were common in the South and the state deemed them illegal.
An ADA-compliant version of the document can be obtained from Nevada ADA Assistance. A buyer cannot waive the obligation to provide the form and a seller cannot require a buyer to waive the form. It is important to remember that the declaration is a disclosure of condition and information regarding the property known to the seller which materially affects the value of the property. Seller’s qualifications for disclosure are qualified and confirm that the statement is not a warranty of any kind by Seller or agent. It further states that the disclosure form does not replace any inspections or warranties that the buyer may wish to obtain.
Above the first array of checkboxes is the question: “Are you aware of any issues and/or defects with any of the following:” As this is not a warranty, this is particularly important. Sellers should not inspect or search for things, the question just asks if they are aware of any issues or defects. Most buyers employ trained, licensed and bonded inspectors for the task of finding such physical problems from the perspective of a disinterested third party. The seller is just sharing what they know, and most haven’t been under their house in years, if ever, and don’t really know what’s going on. Get an inspection from a licensed inspector.
Most contracts now require the form to be returned with the accepted offer, or within five days of acceptance. If any other defect comes to Seller’s attention, it must be reported to Buyer, but if Seller is unaware of a defect, Seller cannot and is under no obligation to disclose it. There are time constraints within which a buyer must object to the defects disclosed and, if the buyer wishes to terminate the agreement as provided by law following the disclosure of the defects, the termination must be in writing , notarized and delivered as required by law.
If a Seller relies on any officer or employee of the State or any political subdivision of the State in the ordinary course of his or her duties, or on any contractor, engineer, land surveyor, certified inspector or a pesticide applicator, he is not liable for damages.
A seller who does not disclose what later turned out to be something he knew can be subject to treble damages, having to pay three times the damages suffered by the buyer. It’s the buyer’s option to judge how the disclosed information ultimately affects them, so don’t withhold anything that might affect them even if it doesn’t affect you. It’s their choice, not yours. Don’t kill it in committee, reveal it.
If in doubt, disclose. Still. When it comes to choosing professionals to help you with your real estate needs… experience is priceless! Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, BS.3481, 775-781-3704. [email protected]