Buying a Home: What Does Full Disclosure Mean?
We all know a handyman. He’s the neighbor who seems to be always working on his home by making improvements that are well beyond your expertise. And then you see a for sale sign on the front lawn. Does he need to tell potential buyer about what he’s done?
If you are buying a home, you’d expect that the owner would offer full disclosure. The state of Oregon has a full disclosure law to protect buyers from any improvements done to the property. But how much protection does a full disclosure document provide? How much does the seller have to tell the buyer of the home? How much homework does the person buying the home need to do?
According to NOLO.com, disclosure varies greatly from state-to-state, but generally only covers personal knowledge. In other words, if the seller didn’t know the problem existed, they are under no legal obligation to disclose it. California has one of the most stringent state disclosure requirements for selling a home. The range of disclosure requirements cover everything from leaky roofs to nuisances such as a neighborhood barking dog. It also requires potential natural disasters that might impact the home be listed.
Oregon’s laws about disclosure are not as specific although they do address many of the same concerns. Disclosure requirements usually cover such items encumbrances such as a lien, water and sewage information, the type of insulation, the condition of the roof, any non-permitted additions, and any information about home owners association related costs. The answers the sellers are able to provide on the document consist of Yes, No, and Unknown.
How do House Flippers approach Disclosure?
A Flipper may be able to answer many of the questions the form asks with either a Yes or No. Because the ownership was short-lived, Unknown may be answered more frequently than it might be with an owner who has been in the property for some time.
The answer of Unknown is not necessarily a red flag, but it should be clarified by your own inspector. This additional cost could save you thousands in legal fees chasing the previous owner or battling the municipality.
The question of whether you should buy a flipped house boils down to your personal preference. Some Flippers do good work whereas others are simply putting “lipstick on the pig.” Some improvements are simple and long overdue while others a more major, requiring permitting and inspections.
You should keep in mind that Flippers have no personal investment in the property, at least not in the same way a longer-term resident might. They need to turn a profit. How they do this might be through the use of inexpensive materials, less experienced labor, or simply charging high margin prices for relatively simple fixes.
There is a good chance you will encounter a home that was improved and sold without ever having the owner actually take up residence. Buying a flipped house is not necessarily a bad thing, it is just a friendly reminder to be sure to come to the process with due diligence. As always, be cautious and do your homework. And let me know if I can help in any way.
http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/required- disclosures-selling- real-estate- 30027.html
http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/oregon- home-sellers- disclosures-required- under-state-law.html
How can we assist you today?
On behalf of The Jones Group @ Sunriver Realty
Nola Horton-Jones, Principal Broker/Realtor | ABR, C-RIS, e-PRO, GREEN, RSPS, CCIM Candidate
Bryce Jones, Broker/Realtor | ABR, CRS, e-PRO, GREEN, GRI, RSPS, SFR
Karen Marcy, Broker/Realtor
The Jones Group @ Sunriver Realty | 57057 Beaver Drive | Sunriver, OR 97707
Mobile: 541-420- 3725 | Mobile: 541-420- 4018 | Mobile: 503-327- 9611 | Fax: 541-593- 5123
Licensed in Oregon