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Columns : Let's Talk Real Estate - James Sarles Last Updated: Feb 6, 2017 - 2:32:04 PM

Full Disclosure is the Best Policy
By James Sarles
Sep 30, 2009 - 10:34:16 AM

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As Abe Lincoln once said “Honesty is the best policy” and if Abe were a real estate agent he would have said Be honest and disclose any problems you have in your house upfront to your real estate agent. 

Let’s say that you just listed your beautiful home in Fortune Bay for sale, and you withheld a few “little” problems from your real estate agent – the roof leaks, but only when it rains; the outlet in the back bedroom won’t spark unless something is plugged in; and there is a stain on the oak floor in the living room that is covered up by a rug.  Will it be all right if you simply don’t mention these defects?  Definitely not!  

It is a mistake to think that your home will sell more quickly by concealing its little (or not so little) imperfections.  I have seen these seemingly insignificant items  escalate into major issues that have ruined sales.   

Buyers have a right and  must be informed not only about any structural problems, but also about any limitations imposed by a homeowner’s association.  These could range from the obligation to join the homeowner’s association to a restriction on parking a truck overnight in your driveway!  Homeowner’s associations can impose restrictive covenants governing use and occupancy that can include prohibitions against guesthouses or multi-family residences or the right to rent. You can see why failure to disclose could have disastrous consequences and even end up in court.  

Keep in mind that any home has its quirks.  If something in your home is not working properly or needs to be repaired, fix it or make sure that your agent discloses it to the prospective buyers.  Be absolutely candid with your agent and buyers about the condition of the property.  It is unlikely that such defects will go undetected because more and more buyers are getting structural inspections and after the hurricanes are paying more attention themselves on  the structural and mechanical aspects of your home.  If they don’t see what you are trying to hide on the first visit they may pick it up on the second visit and when buyers remorse sets in that spells trouble with a capital T.  

So instead of having sleepless nights before or after the sale its better to disclose the major and minor problems upfront to save problems later.  

As we near the end of the 3rd quarter we can look back on a very slow period in Real Estate in Freeport and around the world.  Is there light at the end of the tunnel?  Our  local economy is suffering with very high unemployment but the US market is experiencing a slow come back in Real Estate and as I always say when the US sneezes we catch a cold as we are inextricably tied to the US. Based a survey of local realtors there is renewed interest in our real estate market and property is slowly selling again. Prices have been adjusted for the most part so buyers know that in this Buyers market sellers are very willing to make a deal. If you are a seller you must be aware that there are a lot of homes on the market and it is important that you do not do anything that can hurt your house from selling.

Contact James at Coldwell Banker - James Sarles Realty  james@sarlesrealty.com

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Let's Talk Real Estate - James Sarles
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