Writing an Offer – Seller’s Disclosure Statement
Although you have toured the property, looked at the walls and ceiling, turned on the faucets and played with the light switches, you have not lived in it. The seller has a lot more knowledge about his or her home from living there. For this reason, you may want to ask if the seller has filled out a “Seller’s Disclosure Statement” or if not, require it as part of your offer.
Basically, you want the seller to disclose any adverse conditions that may have a substantial impact on your decision to purchase the home. This would include any problems with the house, whether the property is in a flood zone or any other kind of hazardous area.
In Naples, Florida and Collier County a Seller’s Disclosure Statement is expected but not required by law. A seller my chose not to provide the written form to buyers but that doesn’t exclude them from disclosing any known facts that may effect the value of the property according to State laws.
In Johnson vs. Davis, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that, “where the seller of a home knows of facts materially affecting the value of the property which are not readily observable and are not known to the buyer, the seller is under a duty to disclose them to the buyer.” The seller may disclosure facts in writing or verbally.
In addition, in Rayner vs. Wise Realty Co. of Tallahassee, the First District Court of Appeal ruled that this same disclosure requirement applies to residential properties that are being sold “as is.”