Notes from the Legal Hotline: March 2024 | Disclosures & Offers

What disclosures are required in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts real estate transactions are generally ruled by the principle of caveat emptor, or buyer beware. Massachusetts home sellers are only required to inform prospective purchases of whether the property is serviced by a septic system (Title 5) and, for properties built prior to 1978, sellers must provide a Property Transfer Lead Paint Notification & Certification. Further, any information provided by a seller, such as on the Seller Statement of Property Condition or in response to direct questions from a buyer, must be accurate.

Real Estate licensees, however, have a heightened disclosure obligation under Massachusetts General Laws Ch. 93A and must inform prospective buyers of any known material facts related to the property that may influence a buyer’s decision to purchase the property. While this does not obligate the licensee to discover defects in the property, a licensee also cannot ignore defects that would be reasonably apparent to a real estate licensee.

Failure to make required disclosures, or providing inaccurate information, could result in the seller, the real estate licensee, or both, facing significant financial damages.

Can a seller instruct their broker to only present offers that meet certain criteria?

A seller may provide instructions to their agent relative to what offers should be presented; however, such instructions must be lawful. A seller may set parameters related to terms and conditions of potential offers, such as offer price or closing terms. Any instruction limiting the presentation of offers related to the characteristics of potential buyers, such as race, religion, or familial status, are not lawful and a licensee following such an instruction risks violating fair housing laws.

Any lawful instruction from a seller should be memorialized in writing to avoid confusion and provide protection in the event of a dispute. A listing agent, however, may still want to consider informing the seller of the receipt of an offer outside of the parameters set and verify at that point in time that the seller does not wish to formally consider the offer.


Written by: Justin Davidson, General Counsel; Catherine Taylor, Associate Counsel; Kate Berard, Associate Counsel; and Jonathan Schreiber, Legislative & Regulatory Counsel.

Services provided through the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice, nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship. The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®, by providing this service, assumes no actual or implied responsibility for any improper use of responses to questions through this service.  The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® will not be legally responsible for any potential misrepresentations or errors made by providing this service. For more information regarding these topics authorized callers should contact the MAR legal hotline at 800-370-5342 or e-mail at