Disclosing problems with your property to the buyer before you sell it is very important. It protects you from a future lawsuit as well as keeps your conscience clear. But you also don’t want to damage the sale. Find out what you have to disclose in South Carolina here.
Have you ever been sued? It’s not fun.
Depending on the level of the lawsuit, it can get expensive quickly. Not to mention that it’s time-consuming and stressful.
The last thing you want to happen after you sell your home is to be faced with a lawsuit. If there is a problem with the property that you were required to disclose and failed to do so, the buyer is within their rights to bring a lawsuit against you.
Disclosure laws, however, vary from state to state. Let’s take a look at the South Carolina real estate seller disclosures to find out what’s required here.
What Are Real Estate Disclosures?
Before we go any further, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page. What are real estate disclosures? And why are they so important?
There is no perfect property in existence. The laws of entropy dictate that things break down and systems fail over time.
Buyers know this when they are looking to buy property. However, they have a right to know what problems your property has. It can affect the value of the property, or they may even decide they don’t want to deal with that particular can of worms.
As a seller, you’re interested in disclosing as little as possible. You don’t want to scare away buyers and you don’t want the sale price to come down.
But, aside from being the morally correct thing to do, the state in which the property is located has laws dictating what you must disclose. Some states even require you to disclose things like paranormal activity or a death in the home. If you fail to meet those obligations, you could face a hefty lawsuit.
In South Carolina, that lawsuit can include both the cost of repairs as well as reasonable legal fees for the plaintiff. Add your own legal fees and whatever higher sale price you may have gotten for your property will be completely voided and it might even cost you more.
So be honest and disclose any issues with your property. You’ll sleep better at night and you won’t end up in court.
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South Carolina Real Estate Seller Disclosures
Some states are quite lenient on the seller about what must be disclosed. For example, if your property is in a "let the buyer beware" state, you don’t have to disclose anything unless specifically asked. However, a local real estate agent may be required to disclose any problems that they know about. So find out the rule before telling your agent all your property’s deep, dark secrets.
South Carolina is not a "buyer beware" state. Interestingly enough, South Carolina will not require you to disclose problems if you and the buyer agree in writing that no statement is necessary.
They also make figuring out what needs to be disclosed and how to read their forms rather simple. This sample disclosure form that the South Carolina Real Estate Commission created gives you a comprehensive idea.
The form consists of 24 questions regarding the condition of your home. The questions ask if there are problems with a particular part of the home. These include
- The water supply, quality, and pressure
- The sewage system
- The roof and gutters (you also have to disclose the roof’s age)
- Any other structural components like foundation, chimney, walls, doors, etc.
- Mechanical systems such as electrical, plumbing, HVAC, etc.
- Insect infestations and unrepaired damage
- Zoning laws, easements, legal actions, erosion or flood hazards, etc.
- The presence of hazardous materials like asbestos, lead-based paint, etc.
- Any rental agreements still in place at closing
- The presence of equipment owned by utility companies (propane or natural gas tanks, etc.)
- Any outstanding utility bills
Simply go through and answer the questions yes, no, or no representation. If you answer yes, a particular system does have a problem, you should attach a brief explanation.
Keep in mind that the form does not include every possible component that you could have in your house. However, just because something is not specifically named, doesn’t mean that you don’t have to disclose about it.
For example, your home may have an appliance that is not specifically named on the form. But it would fall under "other appliances" and you should still disclose any problems with it.
The disclosure method can also vary from state to state. Some states only require a verbal disclosure statement. However, that can be more dangerous for you in the event of a lawsuit. Of course, your statement will have witnesses, but a document in black and white is more solid.
South Carolina requires that the disclosure be delivered in a written statement. It doesn’t have to be super fancy. You or your agent can simply email the disclosure to the buyer.
Talk to Your Agent
This article gives you an overarching idea of what South Carolina real estate seller disclosures are required. However, the laws can be complex and the stakes are high. Always consult with a knowledgeable local real estate agent for the most current information pertinent to your situation.
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