Disclosing defects before selling a home

May 16, 2008

I've decided to sell my home, but my state has stringent laws requiring disclosure of defects. What's the best way to protect myself from potential liability for problems I may not even know about?

I've decided to sell my home, but my state has stringent laws requiring disclosure of defects. What's the best way to protect myself from potential liability for problems I may not even know about?

Hire a home inspector to prepare a report on your home before you put it on the market. That way, if it has serious defects you'll be alerted to them. Then you'll have the option of either correcting those problems before listing the house or disclosing the defects and adjusting your asking price accordingly. Either way, you'll reduce the possibility that a buyer could later claim that you failed to disclose important information. In fact, if the inspection report is generally positive, seeing that up front could make a nervous prospective buyer more comfortable about making an offer. If you need help in choosing a home inspector, ask other homeowners for references and review the National Association of Home Inspectors' ( http://www.nahi.org) guidance on evaluating an inspector's qualifications. On the home page, follow the links listed under Consumer Info and under Education.