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 and easy 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 Georgia seller disclosure.
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.|
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Georgia Seller Disclosure Laws
The sellers in Georgia are bound by specific federal and state laws in relation to the sale of their property. Set out below are a few pointers revolving around Georgia seller disclosure laws.
» How To Sell My House Georgia: Know The Process To Sell Your Home In Georgia.
Statute on Seller Disclosure
Georgian Law does not mandate the sellers to fill out the formal written Seller Disclosure form per se. However, it is advisable to fill out the Georgia Seller’s Disclosure Statement Form to prevent any room for misunderstandings, misrepresentations, or the ultimate – legal repercussions.
Set out below are a few questions pertaining to the Seller’s house.
|1.||Lead-Based Paints||– If property built prior to 1978 contains any lead-based paint.|
|2.||Structural Items, Additions, Alterations||– Any cracking, or breakage of the foundation of the structure.|
– structural reinforcements.
|3.||Systems and Components||– Replacement or Repair of HVAC systems.|
|4.||Sewer/Plumbing Related Items||– Any damages or issues with drinking water, sewage systems or plumbing.|
|5.||Roofs, Gutters, and Downspouts||– Leaks or repairs.|
|6.||Flooding, Draining, Moisture, and Springs||– Any damage caused by water intrusion in the basement, crawl space, or garage.|
|7.||Soil Boundaries||– Presence of landfills. |
– Presence of visible soil movement.
|8.||Termites, Dry Rot, Pests and Wood Destroying Organisms||– Damage caused as a result of wildlife access to the property.|
|9.||Litigation and Insurance||– Ongoing litigation for negligent construction or use of defective products.|
|10.||Agricultural Disclosure||– If Preferential Tax is receivable|
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Sellers Duty to Disclose Material Defects
Albeit not mandated by law to fill the Disclosure form, the sellers are not absolved from their duty to disclose pertinent material defects of the house. Therefore, it is the seller’s duty to disclose material information to the buyer.
- ✍️ 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.
Lead-Based Paints Disclosure Georgia
Additionally, under Federal law, the sellers must disclose if their property (if built prior to 1978) has been coated by lead-based paints. The Georgia lead-based paint disclosure form for the seller should be filled out by the seller.
Seller Not Legally Bound by Certain Disclosures
As per § 44-1-16 of Title 44, Chapter 1 of the Georgian Code, no action can be taken against a seller in the following event –
- For failure to disclose that the property is occupied or was occupied by a person who was infected with a virus, or any disease that is highly unlikely to be transmittable; or
- If the property was a site of a homicide, felony, suicide, or death.
However, should the sellers be asked directly in relation to these, they must answer honestly. This is noted in the case of Wilhite v. Mays (235 S.E.2d 532), where it was held that active concealment of the material defect along with steps taken to prevent its discovery amounts to fraud.
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What Happens if the Seller Lies on the Disclosure Statement?
If the sellers don’t make necessary disclosures, then they are liable for fraud, misrepresentation, or breach of contract. The buyer may choose to either rescind the contract, i.e. cancel the contract, or claim damages.
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 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.
»Can I sell my house by myself Georgia: Are you considering selling you house without a realtor? Here are our tips for a smooth selling process.
Tips to Minimize Issues in Georgia 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 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.|
» Find out the best home inspectors in Georgia.
|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 a licensed real estate agents in Georgia. 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’s Disclosure in Georgia
|Level of Complexity||Average|
|Is Georgia a Caveat Emptor State?||Yes|
|Is Georgia a Non-Disclosure State?||No|
Disclosure laws in Georgia follow the rule of ‘caveat emptor,’ i.e. let the buyer beware. Thus, it is a buyer’s duty in Georgia to act with due diligence while buying a home, as the seller is not made legally liable to make certain disclosures.
Georgia Seller’s Disclosures 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 Georgia Flat Fee MLS.
» GA Flat Fee MLS – Discover The Best Flat Fee MLS Service in Georgia
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 Georgia seller disclosures separately.
Check out some of the Houzeo reviews and how it has helped customers around the US.
*Seller disclosures are exclusively 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
Are seller disclosures required in Georgia?
No, it is not mandated by law to fill the Seller Disclosure Statement Form but it is highly advisable to the seller to fill the form to avoid future legal repercussions.
Is Georgia a caveat-emptor state?
Yes, Georgia is a "buyer-beware state" wherein buyer on his/her end must conduct due-diligence of the property.
Do the sellers have to disclose death of a person that occurred in the property to the prospective buyer?
No, the seller is not required to disclose death that occurred in the property to the prospective buyer unless the buyer specifically asks the seller.
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