Seller's Property Disclosure: One Of the Most Useful Real Estate Documents

Seller's Property Disclosure: One Of the Most Useful Real Estate Documents

In Pennsylvania, home sellers are required to disclose any material defects to prospective buyers before an agreement of sale is signed, though there are exemptions for some types of sales. Two of the more common exemptions are transfers between co-owners as a result of divorce and sales to settle an estate.

Sellers in this area generally fill out the standard PA Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement. Having a standardized form helps buyers compare properties and assess a home’s worth. Over the years, the form has become more extensive and is now ten pages, covering many aspects of a home’s condition.

What Is On the Seller’s Disclosure?

If you’re in the market to buy a home, the seller’s disclosure is where you’ll find out what the sellers know about the type of water and sewer the home has (public or private), the type of heating fuel, the age of the roof and HVAC system, whether the home has central air, and whether there are any structural issues. It’s also where to check whether the sellers have knowledge of any environmental issues like lead paint, radon, and mold, as well as financial, legal, or title issues that may affect the sale.

The disclosure asks sellers to list any additions or other alterations to the property made during their ownership. Examples include finishing a basement, adding a room, installing a pool or fence, and making structural changes. They should note the date of the addition or alternation, as well as whether they obtained the required approvals or permits.

Why Buyers Should Review the Disclosure Carefully

When planning to make an offer on a home, a close review of the disclosure is essential to determining how much you think the home is worth. If the sellers left any questions on their disclosure unanswered, ask that they complete it before you make an offer. If a disclosure is not available because the sale is exempt from the disclosure requirement, consider the risk of unexpected problems and potentially expensive future repairs before you decide on your offer price.

Some buyers want to see the seller’s disclosure even before deciding whether to tour a home, especially if they had a previous sale fall through because of repair issues. Many are particularly interested in the age of the roof and HVAC systems, basement water problems, and stucco issues.

The Seller’s Disclosure is Not a Substitute for Inspections

Keep in mind that a seller’s disclosure is not a substitute for a home inspection or any other inspections that would typically be done. Inspections are an important part of the purchasing process for several reasons. The most obvious is that inspections may uncover problems the sellers are unaware of. They may also uncover issues the sellers did not disclose because they mistakenly thought they were not significant enough to note. Finally, inspections are important because unscrupulous sellers may choose not to disclose problems that could deter buyers or cause them to offer a lower price.

The Benefits to Sellers

It’s easy to see why the seller’s disclosure is important to buyers, but it can also benefit sellers. Buyers typically sign the seller’s disclosure and submit it with their offer to acknowledge receipt. This helps prevent misunderstandings during the transaction and reduces the likelihood buyers will later claim they purchased the home without having pertinent information from the sellers. It’s also a place for sellers to highlight improvements to their home, especially big-ticket items such as a new heater, air conditioning system, or roof, which can help the sellers justify their price.

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If you’re planning to buy or sell a home, contact Annette Nelson at (610) 247-7892 or

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