Upfront Disclosure is Critical

Liability Question 101: If you know something about a property’s condition as the seller’s agent, do you (1) have to disclosure that to all buyers or (b) only tell about issues if asked? The answer is A! The regulations in Massachusetts Chapter 93a say that brokers need to disclose anything that would influence a buyer’s decision on whether or not to purchase the property; any ‘material defects’.  This means anything adverse you know about a property or system on the property; for example, a problem with the roof or mold in the basement or a faulty furnace, or property flooding.  You have to disclose what you know – from a credible source such as the seller, a past inspection report, something you noticed during your visits, or heard about it through a third party.  If there is anything that a REALTOR knows that could impact the buyer’s decision to buy the property, then you must disclose it. According to MAR Counsel, it is NOT enough to only tell about these issues if asked directly — you are required to inform the buyer prior to entering into a purchase contract. So, if you know something, say something. (and document it!) Getting in front of issues that might crop up during a home inspection is wise. Talk to your seller about the strategic advantages of making sure Buyers are fully informed and understand that the house has been priced according to the current condition. This allows you to address any issues at the beginning of the transaction, rather than having the deal blow up down the road.