Understanding the seller’s disclosure is important because it allows a buyer to know the history of your new home. While many of us don’t read disclosures carefully, buyers will not want to take this approach with the seller’s disclosure. This report has the potential to save you money and heartbreak if you review carefully.
Here are a few important parts of your seller’s disclosure report to really pay attention to.
Not only do you need to know the age of the roof, you need to know the lifespan as well.The disclosure statement will tell you the roof age but that really doesn’t help unless you know how much time you have left in that roof.
The life expectancy of a roof is largely based on what materials are used. With the range of roofs lasting from 10-50 years, digging deeper is important. This will let you know if you have a big expense ahead of you.
Type of Foundation
Are you on a slab or crawl space? While the experts having conflicting opinions on which is better, you need to know in regards to the maintenance of your house.
A crawl space lets inspectors find and identify potential problems easily but could lead to a mold or critter problem down the line.
On the other hand, if you are on a slab and roots or a broken pipe get in the way, that is serious damage that will be a big expense. Removing a slab is a big project.
Pipes and Plumbing
Take a look at what types of pipes are in the house along with their age. Replacing plumbing is very expensive so you want to know what you are getting into ahead of time.
Some pipes like brass and copper can last up to 100 years. But if you have lead pipes you have a situation on your hands that will need to be fixed right away.
Water Heater and HVAC
If you look at the seller’s disclosure statement, you will know the age of the HVAC system and take a guess at how long you’ll have until it’s time to replace it. Electric water heaters can last up to 15 years while gas water heaters last about 10 years. The good thing about water heaters is they don’t need to be replaced until they fail or leak.
Cracks in the Wall
Look for any inspector notes in the seller’s disclosure that speaks to cracks in the walls. Prepare for the worst but hope for the best. You’ll want to call in a structural engineer to make sure the cracks are just cosmetic and not the sign of a larger problem like foundation issues. In most cases, a home inspection should be all you need to see what you’re dealing with.
Damage From Animals
Does you report say “yes” to damage from animals? If so you’ll want to make sure that everything was handled properly. Ask for a termite report if they do not provide a termite guarantee.
Also ask what the property means by saying it was taken care of. You want to make sure the house is sealed so no critters can find their way in.
Buyers will want to really pay attention to the “additional comments” on the seller’s disclosure report. Things that are out of the ordinary will be explained in this section. It also may highlight restrictions, easements and any pending liens on the property. Some of these issues could really be deal breakers so look over it carefully.
Go With Your Gut
This is the first step in researching your potential new home. Be sure to note any suspicions you might have or where you need additional information. You can also get a Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange which will tell you a house’s history of damage. Remember that while a seller’s disclosure report is important, it does not replace a comprehensive inspection.