A seller’s statement is a signed statement from the seller that answers pre-printed questions regarding the property.
Some states mandate seller’s disclosure statements. Massachusetts does not. That is why during some, but not all, transactions, a “seller’s statement” or “seller’s disclosure” is given to the buyer and/or the buyer’s agent. Buyers are asked to sign a copy of the seller’s disclosure to confirm that they received it.
Sometimes the form is provided at the first viewing of the property. Other times it appears later, but almost always before the purchase and sale agreement is signed.
There are several variations on this form. Some forms are long and detailed, others are shorter. Some forms include an indemnification that states that the information came from the sellers and the agent is indemnified (held harmless) in the event that the statements are not correct.
Listing agents like seller’s disclosures because the seller’s disclosure makes it harder for the seller to use the agent as a vehicle to provide false information. The longer forms also make it harder for sellers to simply fail to provide information that a buyer should probably have about the property before they commit to buying it. The more detailed forms encompass most aspects of the property, including a history of work that the seller did to the property during the term of ownership.
Some seller’s attorneys advise their clients not to provide a seller’s disclosure because they feel the less that their client provides, the better off they may be later in the event that the sellers make a mistake, whether knowingly or not. They feel that the buyer can do as much investigating and inspecting as the buyer wants before committing to the purchase.
If you’ve had any experience with seller’s disclosure forms, here are some questions for you to contribute to the discussion:
Did the seller’s disclosure appear at the time in the transaction that was best for you or the seller?
Did it provide you with everything you needed to know? If not, what else did you want or need to know?
Were the disclosures accurate or did you have any surprises later?
If the disclosure form was not correct and you bought the property, what did you do?
Most important, do you think that Massachusetts should have a mandatory seller’s disclosure law and uniform seller’s disclosure forms that need to be provided at a specific time in the transaction?
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