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Disclaimer: Information in this article is meant to be used for educational purposes only and not to be taken as legal advice. HomeLight always encourages you to reach out to a legal advisor concerning your own situation.
When you set out to sell a house, most states require you to make certain disclosures. Mandated disclosures refer to any material defects in the home, and in many states, you will be held liable if you don’t tell the buyer about them upfront.
To avoid getting into legal trouble, it’s imperative that you know what you should and need not disclose when you fill out your disclosure statement. We’ve done all of the legwork for you and pulled sample disclosure docs for every single state.
In this article, you’ll be able to read up on the mandated disclosures in your state and take a look at a sample disclosure form to prepare yourself before filling out the real one.
What is a seller’s disclosure statement or seller’s disclosure form?
In a nutshell, the basis of most state disclosure documents is the same. You’ll be asked a series of questions about the condition of your property and whether anything is broken, damaged or does not work. This includes things like the foundation of the house, skylights, plumbing, pool, HVAC, etc.
Some states require you to disclose problems with the land; others just with the structure of the home itself. Select states have additional mandated disclosures that you need to note. For example, in Washington State, you must disclose if you live near a farm.
In some states, including California, your real estate agent is not legally allowed to help you fill out the form, so you’ll need to complete it on your own.
Chris Murray is a top-performing real estate agent in Hemet, California, who sells properties 59% quicker than the average local agent. He explains how filling out his state’s disclosure form, called the Transfer Disclosure Statement (TDS), works during a home sale: “We hand the form to the seller, they can fill it out, and then that is what we provide to the buyer to relay any of the seller’s known issues with the home.”
The key is, it’s known issues. They’re not going to dig into investigating anything. It’s a simple ‘Are you aware of …?’ and they say ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ If they’re not aware of it, that’s the end of it. They don’t have to investigate to get a clear answer.
- Chris Murray Real Estate AgentCloseChris Murray Real Estate Agent at RE/MAX Empire Properties Currently accepting new clients
- Years of Experience 22
- Transactions 3531
- Average Price Point $264k
- Single Family Homes 3302
If you do need help filling out a disclosure document in a state where you cannot ask your agent for help, you will need to consult a real estate lawyer.
Why do disclosure documents matter when you sell your home?
Imagine that you’re adopting a puppy from an animal shelter who is very afraid of cars. You adopt the pup, attach his leash to his collar, and set out to put him in your car to bring him to his cozy new home.
All of a sudden he starts crying and jumps into your arms and you have no idea why. You bring him back into the shelter to ask what’s going on, and they finally disclose to you that he has a fear of cars.
If the shelter had disclosed the pup’s fear of cars, you may have acted differently. You may not have adopted the pup knowing that your life revolves around driving your car to and from work, to get the kids, to run errands, or on long road trips for months at a time.
Or, you would have adopted the dog knowing full well that you’d need to walk him home the first time, and that you would need to work with him to help him conquer his fear once and for all.
It’s similar with a house. If you know your house has a large crack in the foundation, the roof leaks when it rains, or has any other issue, you need to disclose that information to the buyer before they purchase it.
If the buyer knows full well what they’re getting into with your house, it lightens your legal liability. Then, the buyer can decide if they’re willing to deal with any issues in your house or if they want to walk away completely.
What do I have to disclose when I sell my house?
Every state’s disclosure laws are different, even though the core of most disclosure statements are similar. That’s why you need to take an in-depth look at the disclosure document for your state. If you want to dive into the legal code for your state, you can also check out the disclosure laws for all 50 states.
Some states do not have a standard disclosure document but instead employ the caveat emptor or “buyer beware” rule. This rule states that it is the buyer’s responsibility to figure out if there are any issues with the home.
The caveat emptor rule does not apply if the seller lies about anything important that has happened in the home or any crucial defects within the home.
Find your state to read sample disclosure documents and to find out more about what exactly you need to disclose to the buyer when you sell your house.
- Alabama: Caveat emptor rule, unless the seller or real estate agent knows about something that would impact the health or safety of the buyer
- Alaska: Residential Real Property Transfer Disclosure Statement
- Arizona: Residential Seller Disclosure Statement
- Arkansas: Caveat emptor rule; real estate agent must “exert reasonable effort” to find any issues with the house
- California: Transfer Disclosure Statement; real estate agents cannot help fill out the form
- Colorado: Seller’s Property Disclosure (Residential)
- Connecticut: Residential Property Condition Disclosure Report
- Delaware: Seller’s Disclosure of Real Property Condition Report
- District of Columbia: Seller’s Property Condition Statement
- Florida: Florida Realtors Seller’s Property Disclosure (Residential)
- Georgia: Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement
- Hawaii: Hawaii Seller’s Disclosure Statement; real estate agents cannot help fill out the form
- Idaho: Property Condition Disclosure Form
- Illinois: Residential Real Property Disclosure Report
- Indiana: Seller’s Residential Real Estate Sales Disclosure
- Iowa: Seller Property Condition Disclosure; includes asbestos and lead paint disclosures
- Kansas: Seller’s Disclosure And Condition of Property Addendum (Residential)
- Kentucky: Seller’s Disclosure Of Property Condition
- Louisiana: Property Disclosure Document
- Maine: Sellers must provide a property disclosure statement that shares what they know about the water supply system, insulation, heating system, waste disposal system, hazardous materials, known defects, and access to the property
- Maryland: Maryland Residential Property Disclosure And Disclaimer Statement
- Massachusetts: Property Transfer Lead Paint Notification
- Michigan: Seller’s Disclosure Statement
- Minnesota: Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement
- Mississippi: Property Condition Disclosure Statement
- Missouri: Seller’s Disclosure Statement for Residential Property
- Montana: Caveat emptor rule; must disclose known mold issues and lead-based paint
- Nebraska: Seller Property Condition Disclosure Statement (Residential)
- Nevada: Seller’s Real Property Disclosure Form
- New Hampshire: Property Disclosure (Residential)
- New Jersey: Standard Form of Seller’s Property Condition Disclosure Statement
- New Mexico: Adverse Material Facts Disclosure Statement
- New York: Property Condition Disclosure Statement
- North Carolina: Residential Property and Owners’ Association Disclosure Statement; sellers can select ‘no representation’ for certain answers, which is a completely neutral response
- North Dakota: Seller’s Property Disclosure Form
- Ohio: Residential Property Disclosure Form
- Oklahoma: Residential Property Condition Disclosure Statement
- Oregon: Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement
- Pennsylvania: Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement
- Rhode Island: Real Estate Sales Disclosure Form
Editor’s Note: In February 2022, a new Multi-Unit Real Estate Sales Disclosure and Multi-Unit Addendum were released for multi-unit properties in Rhode Island. We recommend reaching out to a local real estate agent or attorney for those forms.
- South Carolina: State Of South Carolina Residential Property Condition Disclosure Statement
- South Dakota: Seller’s Property Condition Disclosure Statement
- Tennessee: Tennessee Residential Property Condition Disclosure
- Texas: Seller’s Disclosure Notice
- Utah: Seller’s Property Condition Disclosure
- Vermont: Seller’s Property Information Report
- Virginia: Residential Property Disclosure Statement; must disclose knowledge of any former mining operations
- Washington: Seller’s Disclosure Statement
- West Virginia: Caveat emptor rule; real estate agents are obligated to be honest with buyers; lead-based paint must be disclosed
- Wisconsin: Disclosures by Owners of Real Estate
- Wyoming: Caveat emptor rule; real estate agents are required to be honest with buyers; lead hazards must be disclosed
This article does not constitute legal advice. If you need legal advice, please consult a real estate attorney.
Header Image Source: (Frank Taylor/ Pexels)
- "Caveat Emptor Laws," Legal Match (April 2022)
- "Is Property Condition Disclosure Required by Law?," Arkansas Real Estate Commission
- "Title 33: Property Chapter 7: Conveyance of Real Estate," Maine Legislature (October 2023)
- "Are you aware of 2022's new forms and updates?," Ri Realtors (January 2023)