Virginia real estate disclosure laws require home sellers to reveal a lot of things when selling their houses. These disclosures also vary according to the area your property is in, or the type of residence you’re selling. Hence, it’s important to know which disclosures you must provide when selling a house in Virginia.
» Jump To:
- Seller’s Disclosures Definition
- Importance of Disclosures
- Virginia Real Estate Disclosure Laws
- When Is A Seller Exempted From Giving Disclosures?
- Consequences of Lying on Seller Disclosures
- Most Common Mistakes By FSBO Home Sellers In Disclosures
- Tips To Minimize Problems in Disclosures
- Final Word
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*Seller disclosures are exclusively the responsibility of the home seller. Regardless of the service, you engage in, you are required to ensure seller disclosures provided by you are complete and accurate to your best knowledge. Houzeo is not a brokerage or a licensed agent. It is a tech platform and as such the tips presented here should not be construed as any advice for which a real estate or attorney license is required.
What Is A Seller’s Disclosure?
The Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Statement is a kind of a standard checklist form containing material defects and features of the property. It provides information about the property that may negatively affect the value of the house.
If there are material defects in a property that may impact the value of the property and the seller is aware of them, the seller must disclose them. However, sellers should report these defects to the best of their knowledge and understanding.
📝 Note: From pest infestation to pending legal issues, you shall disclose any known information about your Virginia house. This will help you avoid future disputes.
Usually, the disclosure form is completed along with the listing paperwork – especially in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) provided by the listing agent.
Importance Of Seller’s Disclosure
Sellers’ disclosures serve the following purpose in real estate transactions:
|🔎||Give Complete Information About The Property||Disclosures help communicate the defects present on the property. They ensure that all the stakeholders involved in the transaction are well aware of the property's history.|
|⚖️||Protects Sellers Against Legal Liabilities||Once you disclose all the known defects present in the house or which come to light during the inspection, you may be exempted from any future liability against those defects.|
|👍||Develops Credibility||Honesty, accuracy and transparency are of utmost importance when selling your house. Disclosures are a way of achieving all of these and thereby enhancing your credibility.|
Virginia Real Estate Disclosure Laws
Disclosure laws in Virginia follow the rule of ‘caveat emptor,’ i.e. let the buyer beware. It is a buyer’s duty in Virginia to act with due diligence while buying a home, as the seller is not made legally liable to make certain disclosures.
The Residential Property Disclosure Statement of Virginia is rather a notice which implies that a seller is making no representations about anything set out in the form.
Residential Property Disclosure Form Virginia
This is a standard form prescribed by Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Act. The form specifies that the seller does not make any representations regarding the following:
|1.||Condition of the property or any necessary improvements thereon|
|2.||Neighboring properties, its use and zoning classification|
|3.||Historic district ordinances and how they affect the property while making any renovations, alterations or demolition|
|4.||Whether the property comes in resource protection areas under Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act*|
|5.||Registered sexual offenders in the area|
|6.||Location of property within dam break inundation zone|
|7.||Presence of wastewater system|
|8.||Installation or use of solar energy collection devices|
|9.||Location of property in a flood hazard area|
|10.||Any conservations or easements on the property|
|11.||If a property is subject to any community development authority|
|12.||Location of property on or near marine clays (marumsco soils)|
|13.||Whether the property is declared a Radon gas Zone|
|14.||Existence of defective drywall|
|15.||Any lead pipes, plumbing, or fixture on the property|
|16.||Condition or regulatory status of any impounding structure or dams|
*The Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act was enacted to protect and improve the water quality in the Chesapeake Bay area by making regulations for effective land use. The owner of properties located in these zones requires a permit for cutting trees, making renovations, or adding amenities like a pool to their property, etc.
The document clarifies that all the disclosures mentioned in it are the buyer’s duty to investigate. For that, the buyer can carry out a home inspection or any necessary assessments.
Clicking on the image below will direct you to the Virginia Seller Disclosure form:
Additional Written Disclosure Requirements
Except for the above form, some disclosures are the responsibility of the seller. Although these disclosures vary depending on the area or type of property, a seller is bound to disclose these if they fall under this category.
1] Lead Based Paint Disclosure Virginia
This applies to homes built before 1978. It is a federal disclosure that all American home sellers are required to furnish. You need to fill out a form for disclosing hazards related to lead paint.
2] Septic Waiver Disclosure
📝 Note: Such a waiver is not transferable and the new owner has to comply with the maintenance or repair according to the regulations.
3] Military Air Installation Disclosure
If the property falls within an area where a military air installation is located, or which is marked by the Official Zoning Map as Noise Zone or Accident Potential Zone, the seller has to disclose so in writing.
📝 Note: The seller also mentions the day-night average sound level or DNL. This information can be obtained from the local authority.
4] Methamphetamine Manufacture Disclosure
Where a seller has prior knowledge about the manufacturing of methamphetamine on the property, and where the property has not been cleaned up according to the state guidelines, a seller has to provide its disclosure form.
5] Zoning Ordinance Violation Disclosure
If a property has any pending enforcement actions under the Uniform Statewide Building Code, the seller has to disclose this fact in writing. These enforcements include things that affect the safety, sanitary, and decent living conditions of the property for sale.
The seller also needs to disclose any pending violation of the local zoning ordinance which was not abated or remedied.
6] Privately Owned Stormwater Management Facility Disclosure
A seller who has prior knowledge of a privately-owned stormwater management facility operating on the property needs to disclose it to the buyer.
This disclosure form includes information regarding long-term maintenance and inspection requirements for the facility.
7] Flood Risk Information Form
In this disclosure, a seller has to alert the buyer regarding the risks of flooding. The purpose of this information form is to provide property owners and potential property owners with information regarding flood risk.
📝 Note: This disclosure was made effective recently on January 1, 2022.
8] Repetitive Risk Loss Statement
A property that is known to the seller to be at the repetitive risk loss structure has to inform the buyer about it in a written disclosure form.
‘Repetitive Risk Loss‘ is defined as a property where two or more claims of more than $1,000 were paid by the National Flood Insurance Program within any rolling 10-year period, since 1978.
📝 Note: This disclosure was made effective recently on January 1, 2022.
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Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Act Exemptions
Under certain prescribed circumstances, a seller does not need to provide disclosures. Briefly summarized, these conditions include:
|1.||The house is being sold by a court order which includes - foreclosure sale, sale by a trustee in a bankruptcy case, or transfers from a judgment of specific performance|
|2.||The transferee is a beneficiary under a trust or foreclosure deed|
|3.||The transferor is an executor of a will, or a fiduciary administering a deceased person's estate, guardianship, conservatorship, or trust|
|4.||Transfer between one or more co-owners of the same property|
|5.||The transferee is a spouse of any person in the lineal line of consanguinity|
|6.||Transfer arising from a divorce or settlement between spouses|
|7.||Where the transfer is made due to the owner's failure to pay taxes|
|8.||The transfer is made to or from a government entity, or quasi-public housing authority or agency|
|9.||Where a new house is being sold for the first time|
Legal Consequences of Lying on Virginia Real Estate Disclosures
Virginia is a caveat emptor state. Thus the liability falls on a buyer to conduct a thorough home inspection to save themselves from a bad deal. The buyer can also make any assessments to aid in the buying process.
📝 Note: The Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Form protects the sellers from future risks involving material defects in their homes.
However, in one case (Armentrout v. French), the seller diverted the buyer’s inspection by misrepresenting facts about the home’s septic system. Consequently, the buyers sued the sellers for fraudulent misrepresentation after the defect was found.
The Florida Supreme Court concluded that although the statutes do not make a seller liable for failing to disclose certain defects, a seller who purposefully diverts a buyer from making due inquiries can be held liable.
Most Common Mistakes By FSBO Home Sellers In Disclosures
The main object of disclosures in any area is to give clarity and perspective to a buyer. Buyers who are looking for a home usually have certain criteria in mind before searching a home. A seller disclosure acts as a bridge to close these doubts, giving buyers a reason to have faith in you and your deal.
- One of the biggest mistakes a seller can make is not giving disclosures at all. The lack of trust between a buyer and seller can demotivate a buyer from considering your property altogether. Hence, it is suggested that sellers complete all disclosure formalities as soon as possible, even though it may not be legally required in your state.
- Likewise, sellers also get an option to mark a point as ‘unknown’ in disclosures. This gives you ample opportunity to be honest in your disclosures. Also, marking a certain disclosure clause as ‘unknown’ shifts the burden on a buyer to inspect that particular problem. Hence, don’t make the mistake of lying on your disclosures, as that would count as fraudulent misrepresentation and attract a lawsuit.
- Most state laws prescribe that the disclosures should be provided before closing. As an FSBO seller, it is your duty to provide disclosures as soon as possible, since you do not have a real estate agent to do these things for you.
- ✍️ Pro Tip: Sellers who are selling their house the FSBO way are advised to keep their Disclosure Statement ready before listing on the MLS. It increases your credibility and reliability from a buyer’s perspective, as they get an idea of the property’s condition early on.
Tips To Minimize Issues in Disclosure Documents
|Review And Verify||There’s a time allowance (some permit 10 days) to review and verify everything about your Purchase and Sales Agreement—also the square footage, home usage, and marketing.|
|Ask Questions||Ask questions when in doubt. This would help you in avoiding future trouble.|
|Disclose Everything||To avoid problems in your home disclosure statement disclose everything you know honestly. Even a minor issue could turn out to be important.|
|Get A Licensed Agent Involved||The best way to avoid disclosure issues is to get a licensed real estate agent. Agents can help you manage and assist you in the process along the way.|
- ✍️ Pro Tip: List Your Property With Houzeo
One of the best ways to minimize problems in your seller’s disclosure is to Purchase the “Contract to Close Upgrade Package”. A Licensed broker will review your paperwork to make sure it is appropriate. In addition, you should also have the settlement agent review the paperwork so you cover all bases.
» More: Start your FREE listing NOW!
Final Word: Are Virginia Real Estate Disclosure Laws Complex?
|Level of Complexity||Average|
|Is Virginia a Caveat Emptor State? *||Yes|
|Is Virginia a Non-Disclosure State? **||No|
*Caveat Emptor Rule means states that it is the buyer’s responsibility to find out if there are major or minor defects with the property. And if he/she does not perform the necessary due diligence to inspect, it’s entirely not the seller’s liability if the property does not meet the expectation.
**In a non-disclosure state, the selling price of a house is not available to the masses on an open-source.
To sum it up, working on Virginia real estate disclosures is a somewhat complex process.
Selling your house FSBO is usually good but then you would have to deal with all the disclosures on your own. This demands for you be aware of all the disclosure requirements and any mistake can cost you dearly.
- ✍️ Editor’s Note: Though selling your home yourself on a For Sale By Owner website can save you thousands in commission, we highly recommend you add a Flat Fee MLS listing to your marketing strategy. Check out the best Flat Fee MLS companies in Virginia
Dealing with Virginia real estate disclosures comes with its own set of challenges and can give sellers sleepless nights if not dealt with properly. This is where Houzeo can help you.
By listing your property with Houzeo, you get access to all forms in electronic format. And that too, for FREE! Houzeo has segregated all the disclosures state-wise so that you don’t have to hunt for Virginia seller disclosures separately.
Check out some of the Houzeo reviews and how it has helped customers around the US.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Is due diligence required in Virginia?
Yes. A buyer needs to carry out any inspections or assessments to save themselves from future risks involving material defects in the property. This is known as due diligence.
Are stigmatized property disclosures required in Virginia?
No, a seller need not disclose a stigmatized property.
Does the Virginia Residential Property Act require a seller to disclose that a property is in a tourism activity zone?
If a seller has prior knowledge of the fact that the location of the property falls in a tourism activity zone, the seller may provide disclosure for it.
Do you have to disclose mold when selling a house in Virginia?
No. A seller makes no representations regarding the condition of the property as stated in the Residential Property Disclosure Form. It is the buyer's duty to carry out the mold inspection process.
What do sellers have to disclose in Virginia?
The home sellers in Virginia have to disclose the following, depending on their locality or residence:
1] Lead based paint disclosure Virginia (mandatory throughout the USA)
2] Septic waiver disclosure
3] Military air installation disclosure
4] Methamphetamine manufacture disclosure
5] Zoning ordinance violation disclosure
6] Privately owned stormwater management facility disclosure
7] Flood risk information form
8] Repetitive risk loss statement
What is the Virginia Property Disclosure Act?
It is a law enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia which lays down the rules regarding a seller's disclosures, what is to be disclosed, how is it done, and exemptions.
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