Sellers are often required to list out all the physical aspects of their property to prospective home buyers. This increases clarity and facilitates a better sale. That is exactly where a seller disclosure statement comes into the picture.
Sometimes, to make a quick home sale, sellers tend to disguise the defects in the house. However, if the buyer finds material defects later, the seller may face legal consequences. To avoid these, our guide will take you through seller disclosure Massachusetts.
» Selling My House Massachusetts: Know the process to sell your home in Massachusetts.
What are Seller Disclosures?
The Seller Disclosure form is a standard checklist form containing material defects and features of the property. It specifically 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, then the seller must disclose them. However, sellers should report these defects to the best of their knowledge and understanding.
The aim of Seller Disclosure is to maintain transparency in the real – estate transaction to keep the buyer aware of any defects present in the house.
Importance of Seller Disclosures
Seller’s 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.|
Seller Disclosure Laws Massachusetts
The sellers are bound by specific federal laws and Massachusetts Real Estate Disclosure laws in relation to the sale of their property.
Massachusetts Seller Disclosure laws require that the seller comply with the following:-
- Statement of Property Condition
- Massachusetts Lead Paint Disclosure– as provided under Massachusetts Lead Paint Statute (Section 197a)
- Septic System Presence on the Property – as provided under Title 5 of the Massachusetts Environmental Code
» Selling a Home As Is In Massachusetts: Here is Houzeo’s guide on how to sell your home as-is in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts Seller Disclosure form also known as the Statement of Property Condition
The state of Massachusetts is a caveat emptor i.e. buyer beware state. In simpler terms, it means that it is a buyer’s duty to conduct due diligence prior to purchasing the seller’s property.
The seller should fill out the Seller Disclosure form Massachusetts known as the Statement of Property Condition, which discloses any known defects and conditions of the premise. In Massachusetts, the buyer can sue the seller for intentionally lying on the Seller Disclosure form in Massachusetts. In such cases, the buyer can perform a property inspection in Massachusetts by a licensed home inspector.
However, if defects are detected in the home inspection report that you weren’t aware of, you are not liable to make repairs. Material defects include mold, pest, water damage, ceiling defects, radon, or flooding. In other words, sellers must make disclosures to the best of their knowledge.
- ✍️ Editor’s Note: Latent material defects are the ones which are not apparent or visibly recognizable defects, but they significantly affect the value of the property. Generally, these defects pose a threat to the safety or health of the occupants.
Seller Must Make the Following Disclosures in Massachusetts’ Seller Disclosure Statement form:
|1.||Underground Fuel Tank|
|3.||Domestic Hot Water|
|11.||Building/ Structural Improvements Information – This includes any known defects on the foundation, basement, roof, chimney, floors, walls, windows, insulation, asbestos, radon, pool, garage, and insects.|
|12.||Legal Claim Against Your Property|
In addition, you have the following disclosure clauses in the Massachusetts Seller Disclosure form:-
- Floor Hazard Insurance Disclosure Clause
- Hazardous Materials Disclosure Clause
- Asbestos Disclosure Clause
- Lead Paint Disclosure Clause
- Radon Disclosure Clause
- Chlordane Disclosure Clause
- Mold Information
- Fair Housing Notice
» Need To Sell My House in Massachusetts Fast: Read our blog if you’re in dire need to sell your house fast in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts Lead Paint Disclosure
Massachusetts homeowners with homes built before 1978 must make a lead-paint disclosure. It’s a certification that lets the new owners know about the hazardous effects of lead paint. Furthermore, sellers are required to disclose any known lead-paint issues, or about the use of lead paint in their house.
Sellers also need to comply with the Property Transfer Lead Paint Notification prior to the purchase agreement. Failure to do so can be subject to civil penalties (both civil and criminal penalties) under Massachusetts Seller Disclosure laws. A seller could end up paying a penalty of up to $1,000 and other fee damages to the buyer.
The seller may offer a 10-day period for the buyer to complete a paint inspection or risk assessment for lead-based paint or lead-based hazards. You can get a lead hazard inspection form here.
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» Sell My House Fast For Cash in Massachusetts: Know ways to sell your house fast for cash in Massachusetts.
Septic System on the Property
Under Title 5 of the Massachusetts State Environmental Code, the seller must disclose whether a septic tank or waste disposal system is installed on the property. The seller has the obligation to inspect the system within two years of a property being sold to the buyer.
A “currently approved system inspector” must perform the septic system assessment. After the assessment, the results must be given to the local board of health and shared with the prospective buyer. The Title 5 Certificate will help reveal if the septic system either passed, conditionally failed, or failed.
Although the law only requires you to divulge the presence of a septic system on the property, these inspection requirements should be also disclosed as well for compliance.
To make sure the septic tank system couldn’t cause major issues, it’s advisable to have a Title 5 major inspection prior to advertising your home on the market. Though the cost of repairs can be discouraging, failed systems may make the sale void without any prior action.
» How to Sell Your Own House in Massachusetts: Are you considering selling your house without a realtor? Here are our tips for a smooth selling process.
Failure of Seller to Disclose Material Information
What happens if the seller has failed to disclose material defects in the house to the buyer? The buyer can take legal action against the seller and revoke the offer. This means that the seller should be held responsible for the actual damages sustained, and for the termination of the purchase and sale contract.
However, there are certain issues the owner is not obligated to disclose unless asked by the buyer directly. Sellers need not disclose information pertaining to prior occurrences of homicide and suicide in the house. Sellers also don’t need to disclose information pertaining to prior residents that were afflicted with HIV or diseases that are highly unlikely to be transmitted.
» Best Time To Sell A House in Massachusetts– Find out the best time to sell your property in Massachusetts.
Most Common Mistakes By FSBO Home Sellers in Massachusetts Seller’s 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 for 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 Massachusetts Real Estate Disclosures 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 troubles.|
|Hire A Professional Inspector||A professional inspector can help you gather backup information about the property’s condition. You can also opt for a pre-inspection before listing.|
» Massachusetts Home Inspector – Find out the best home inspectors in Massachusetts.
|Disclose Everything||To avoid problems in your home disclosure statement disclose everything you know honestly. Even though it’s a minor issue, you must disclose it.|
|Get A Licensed Agent Involved||The best way to avoid disclosure issues is to get licensed real estate agents in MA. 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.
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Final Word: Complexity of Seller Disclosure in Massachusetts
|Level of Complexity||Average|
|Is Massachusetts a Caveat Emptor State?||Yes|
|Is Massachusetts a Non-Disclosure State?||No|
Disclosure laws in Massachusetts follow the rule of ‘caveat emptor,’ i.e. let the buyer beware. Thus, it is a buyer’s duty in Massachusetts to act with due diligence while buying a home, as the seller is not made legally liable to make certain disclosures.
Massachusetts Seller’s Disclosures Statements are a little complicated. Selling your house FSBO is usually good, but then you would have to deal with all the disclosures on your own. This demands that you be aware of all the disclosure requirements and that any mistake can cost you dearly. Houzeo can help you with this.
- ✍️ 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 Listing Massachusetts.
» Massachusetts MLS Flat Fee – Discover The Best Flat Fee MLS Service in Massachusetts.
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 Massachusetts Real Estate Property Disclosure separately.
Check out some of the Houzeo Offers and how it has helped customers around the US.
*Seller disclosures are primarily the responsibility of a 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 the tips presented here should not be construed as advice for which a real estate or attorney license is required.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do I need to disclose any waste disposal system on my Massachusetts property?
Yes, under Title V of the Massachusetts State Environmental Code, you must disclose any existing septic tank or waste disposal system on the property. A “currently approved system inspector” should perform the assessment and share the findings with the local board of health and the buyer. In cases of weather issues, the Title V inspection can be completed within six months of the home sale.
2. What are the seller's disclosure requirements in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts is a “caveat emptor” state, which means the sellers are not legally required to divulge facts about the property’s condition. To determine property defects, the buyer has the responsibility to check the house's quality by hiring a home inspector—or asking the seller specific questions. However, the seller still has the responsibility to comply with the disclosure of any known facts to his/her best knowledge. More importantly, hazards regarding lead-based paint and the existence of the septic system in the property.
3. What do home inspectors look for in Massachusetts?
Home inspectors usually test the interior and exterior of your valued property. They’ll gather details and test your plumbing system, heat, and electrical system, and problems with the structure foundation, ceiling, windows, and water system. After the inspection, they’ll give some advice and opinion on how to do necessary repairs and improvements for the property.
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For MA Seller –
- Sellers Closing Costs Massachusetts– Find out the seller’s closing costs obligations in Massachusetts.
- Home Sale Proceeds Calculator Massachusetts– Here’s Houzeo’s closing cost calculator for the seller.
For MA Buyer –
- Closing Cost in Massachusetts for Buyer – Find out the buyer’s closing costs obligations in Massachusetts.
- Massachusetts Home Buyer Closing Costs Calculator – Here’s Houzeo’s closing cost calculator for the buyer.
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