DISCLAIMER: As a friendly reminder, this blog post is meant to be used for educational purposes only, not legal advice. If you need assistance navigating the legalities of what to disclose when selling a home in Florida or using a seller’s disclosure form in Florida, HomeLight always encourages you to reach out to your own advisor.
Getting ready to sell a home in Florida? You’ve probably heard that you’ll need to complete seller’s disclosures. But what exactly do you have to disclose when selling a home in Florida? When you’re prepping to list your home on the market, do you have to research everything about your house — and shell out cash to fix the problems you find?
Not at all, says Sepehr Niakan, a Florida real estate agent with 18 years of experience bringing over 69% more single-family home sales to fruition than the average Miami agent. We spoke to Niakan to get a professional’s take on what the Florida disclosure form is — and what it isn’t.
In a nutshell, Niakan says, the disclosure form is a handy way to get honest about what you do know — and not worry about what you don’t. “The truth will set you free,” he says.
Let’s jump into what you need to know about Florida’s seller disclosure form — and what it means for sellers, and buyers, in the Sunshine State.
What is a seller’s disclosure?
A seller’s disclosure is a real estate document in which a seller discloses known details about the property’s conditions, such as any flaws. This helps the buyer make an informed decision, and it helps the seller meet their legal requirements and protect themselves from any future liability.
“Here’s the way I see it: Property disclosures are a wonderful tool to protect both sides,” Niakan explains.
For example, a buyer might come into a home with a stain on the ceiling — and panic. “They say, what’s that stain? What’s going on? It creates a question mark in the buyer’s eyes”
With the disclosure form, that problem is solved. “It’ll explain everything the seller knows about the house. So, in this case, it could be a leak that happened six months ago and they fixed it, but the stain is still there.” He says that can make both the buyer more comfortable, and keep the seller from assuming liability.
What does a Florida disclosure form mean for sellers?
The purpose of the disclosure form is to make known what you know. That protects you from liability.
“The seller is protecting themself by disclosing what they know.” That way, he says, if the buyer has a problem after closing, it was either already disclosed, or the seller has made it clear that they weren’t aware of the issue.
“Either way, it means the seller has already done their part.”
What does a Florida disclosure form mean for buyers?
Disclosures aren’t just there to cover sellers from liability. For the buyer, the disclosure serves its own very important purpose. “The buyer is protected by being informed of historical facts,” Niakan says.
For instance, he gives the example of a leak in the home. “Knowing what’s occurred in the past helps them understand what they’re buying into. It protects the buyer,” he says, and helps them predict any future issues.
So, let’s go back to square one: There’s no obligation for the seller to fill out a property disclosure form. But the seller can put themselves at legal risk if they purposefully don’t disclose a material defect or another issue with the property.
- Sepehr Niakan Real Estate AgentCloseSepehr Niakan Real Estate Agent at Blackbook Properties Currently accepting new clients
- Years of Experience 18
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Is a seller’s disclosure form required in Florida?
“So, let’s go back to square one: There’s no obligation for the seller to fill out a property disclosure form,” Niakan explains. “But the seller can put themselves at legal risk if they purposefully don’t disclose a material defect or another issue with the property.”
In Florida, a seller’s property disclosure form isn’t required by law. But Florida law still requires that home sellers and their real estate agents disclose any significant defects with the property, such as cracks and other foundational issues.
What doesn’t a seller’s disclosure not do?
A seller’s disclosure does not mean that everything about the house is accounted for and disclosed.
“Sellers don’t need to know anything,” Niakan points out. He gives the example of a seller selling their rental property. “A seller could have bought a property, never lived in it, and had a tenant at it the whole time. The tenant never told them of any issues. The tenant solved all the problems themselves that came up.”
When it’s time to sell, they wouldn’t necessarily ever have learned about these material facts. “Then the owner would never have known one thing wrong with the property. And when it’s time to disclose, they could say I don’t know to absolutely everything — and it would still be okay. Because, in fact, they don’t know anything.”
When is the Florida disclosure form required to be submitted?
In Florida, a seller is required to disclose any known material defects prior to closing. Beyond that, when the disclosure form comes into play is individual to each deal.
Some listing agents have preferences for how their clients handle the selling disclosure. The timing of when you fill out the disclosure form can play into your selling strategy. It can even help you close a deal sooner.
“A lot of listing agents try to get that property disclosure from the seller upfront and attach it to the MLS listing,” Niakan says. “That’s a very thorough, clean, good way to do it.”
Consider this: When you disclose any significant material defects upfront, the buyers you attract will be fully aware of your home’s imperfections. That can help you avoid a scenario where a buyer is very interested, puts in an offer, and then backs out later when they learn that the foundation is settling, for example.
Ultimately, no home is perfect, so letting buyers know what they’re getting into upfront is a strong way to weed out those who aren’t “the one” and find your true prospects.
What do I have to disclose when selling a house in Florida?
Feeling overwhelmed by a landslide of information on the web about what you need to disclose when selling a house in Florida? Fret not. We’ll walk you through it, step by step.
Before you jump into the nitty-gritty, though, here’s what you need to keep in mind. Selling a home in Florida doesn’t require you to complete any one official seller disclosure form. All that is required by law is that you disclose any known facts that impact the value of the property.
That said, the Florida Realtor Seller’s Property Disclosure form features a helpful, comprehensive walkthrough to help you avoid missing any disclosures. Here’s what you’ll need to disclose:
1. Property information
The Florida seller’s disclosure form starts with a section that lists property features both basic and lavish — starting with simple features like your oven and dishwasher, and moving into less common household fixtures like saunas, smart home systems, and solar panels.
You’ll simply check off the appliances the property comes with installed and in working condition. For basic appliances like your refrigerator and microwave, you’ll list the brand as well.
2. Claims and assessments
In this section, you’ll indicate whether you’re aware of any lien or other claims against the house, as well as any federal, state, or local notifications of required repairs or alterations.
For example, if your county notified you that you needed to remove debris from your front yard, you’d need to respond “yes” to this question and explain the circumstances.
If the home is a condo or belongs to an HOA with common areas, such as a shared community swimming pool, you’ll also need to list any claims and assessments related to those common areas that you’re aware of.
3. Deed, homeowners’ and condominium association restrictions
In this section, you’ll list any information about restrictions enforced by the deed or, more commonly, your HOA or condominium association. For example, if your HOA has restrictions for what colors you can paint the exterior of your home, you’d note that here.
4. Environmental details
In addition, this section asks you to disclose any sensitive environments located around your property site, such as protected wetlands, conservation areas, and archeological sites.
5. Roads and land use
This Florida seller disclosure form section asks you to report whether the roads to access your home are public or privately owned and maintained. You’ll also be prompted to share information about road maintenance agreements, zoning, historic district or other restrictions.
If you don’t know the answer to these questions, you’ll simply check “unknown.”
6. Additions, remodeling, and insurance claims
This section runs the gamut from any claims you’ve filed through your homeowners insurance — such as after a flood or fire — to any major remodeling and additions you’ve added to the home. You’ll directly answer questions about whether you had permits for the work that you’ve done, or whether they were unpermitted home projects.
7. Roof-related items
The Florida seller disclosure form asks for information about the age of your roof, any history of leaks, whether you’ve replaced the roof during your ownership of the property, and whether there’s a transferable warranty on the roof.
If you’ve recently paid for a roof replacement, report that information here and be sure you’re factoring the added value of a new roof into how you price your home.
8. Pools and hot tubs
Are you selling a home with a pool or a hot tub? This is the spot on the Florida seller’s disclosure form where you’ll note it. Here’s exactly what you’ll need to disclose:
- Whether the property has a pool
- Whether the property has a hot tub
- The presence of a pool or spa heater
- The presence of a pool sweep
- The approximate age of the pool, spa, or hot tub
- Any repairs or replacements to any of the above
- The chlorination system you use
- Any safety features as defined by Section 515, Florida Statutes, which include pool barrier requirements, safety covers, and required door and window exit alarms.
9. Heating and air conditioning
The Florida seller’s disclosure form asks you to indicate the presence of any of the following equipment:
- Air conditioning (and whether it’s central or electric)
- Heating (and whether it’s central or electric)
- Heat pump
- Air condenser
- Window/wall units
- Solar heating
- Fuel storage tanks
You’ll also note any malfunctions of any of the above that you’re aware of.
10. Water intrusion
Note any past or present water intrusion and any homeowner’s insurance claims related to water intrusion in this section. Also, disclose any dampness and attempts to improve it.
11. Sinkholes and settling
If you’re aware of any sinkholes, soil movement, or settling, disclose it in this section of the Florida seller’s disclosure form. You’ll also need to be sure to note any insurance claims related to sinkholes.
12. Windows and doors
The Florida seller’s disclosure form includes a section on windows and doors and asks for the following details:
- Whether the windows are made of insulated glass
- Whether your home has any low-E filtered windows or fogged windows
- Whether any windows are broken or cracked
- Whether all operable windows open, stay open, close, and lock properly
- The presence of any missing or damaged screens
- Whether all doors operate properly
You’ll note any plumbing problems and related details in this section. That includes:
- General problems with the plumbing system or fixtures
- Any polybutylene pipes on the property
- Any leaks, back-ups, water or sewer/septic tank problems
- The home’s drinking water supply source
- Whether the well water has ever been tested?
- Whether the home has a separate water supply source for irrigation?
- What type of sewage system the home has
- If the home is on septic, when it was last pumped
- The number and type of water heaters
14. Electrical systems
Note down any of the following here:
- Malfunctioning switches
- Malfunctioning receptacles
- Malfunctioning wiring
- Any problem with the electrical system/fixtures
- Any aluminum wiring
15. Exclusions and leased systems
Is there any leased equipment — such as leased solar panels — present in the home? Jot it down here so that the buyer knows what’s owned and what isn’t. In addition, note any fixture present in the home that you plan to take when you sell the home. That’s affixed items only, like a mirror that’s bolted to the wall or a gorgeous midcentury modern light fixture that you can’t live without.
16. Wood-destroying organisms
If you’re aware of any wood-destroying pests — including both present and past infestations — you’ll report it here. In Florida, the most common wood-destroying organisms you may have a history with, in or around your home are:
- Powderpost and ambrosia beetles
- Carpenter ants
- Carpenter bees
- Wood-destroying fungus such as basidiomycetes
For instance, if you once had an infestation of carpenter ants and you had the problem taken care of by a pest control company, you’ll list the name of the company, plus the renewal date.
17. Flooding, drainage, and boundaries
Flood hazards that could require a buyer to pay for additional flood insurance and any drainage issues go here. In addition, you’ll mark down any easements or shared driveways, docks, access points, or other joint-use areas of your property.
In the last section, marked Other Matters, the seller disclosure form asks you to disclose a range of details:
- Is there a right of first refusal on your property?
- Is there any threatened legal action involving your property that you’re aware of?
- Does your property have a homestead tax exemption for the current year?
- Who is the water/sewer, garbage pick-up, gas/fuel, and electricity provider for the home?
And, lastly, the disclosure form will ask you to provide anything else that you feel is relevant about your property on a line ending this section. That allows you to dot your i’s and cross your t’s and feel confident that you’ve disclosed everything you need to in order to satisfy Florida’s disclosure requirements.
Q&A: More expert tips about disclosures in Florida
What can I leave out of my Florida seller’s disclosure?
In Florida, there is a specific statute that states that the seller is not required to disclose whether the property has ever been the site of any sort of death, including a murder or suicide.
Niakan says to stick to the disclosure form and reveal material facts as required. “I wouldn’t suggest that you disclose anything more than what’s required,” he says. “Don’t go beyond that — there’s no reason to.”
What if I accidentally leave something out of my disclosure?
For the most part, as long as you disclose everything you’re aware of when you fill out the disclosure, you’re safe.
The exception is lead-based paint, which is a federal disclosure requirement.
“That’s separate,” Niakan explains. “Basically, any property built before 1978 has to have that form. The purpose of the form is to disclose whether you are aware of any lead-based paint in your property, and give access to federal information that advises buyers on what to do if they want to perform any additional inspections themselves.”
What if I don’t know the answer to a question on the disclosure?
Niakan says that one of the biggest challenges sellers face is knowing what they should do when they don’t know the answer to a question.
“The simple answer is this: You don’t know what you don’t know,” he says. “And it’s okay not to know something. Just write I don’t know” and move on to the next question.”
Can my agent help me fill out my seller disclosure?
“We’re specifically advised to never fill out property disclosures for a seller,” Niakan explains. “Typically, we don’t advise them of what any answers should be.” The reason? “Because if they don’t know, they should just write, I don’t know. That’s the whole beauty of it.”
The whole point of the disclosure, he summarizes, is that it’s designed to give the seller space to disclose what they do know — and not what they don’t. “You don’t have to go do research or spend time learning about the property. You just have to say what you know. And that’s it.”
Are you ready to sell or buy a home in Florida?
Ultimately, when it comes down to what to disclose when selling a house in Florida, the answer is anything you know about.
“There are times when the seller says, should I disclose this thing that happened on my property if everything’s fine now? And the answer is always yes,” Niakan says: “Disclose it.”
Why? “Because if that problem rears its ugly head again, you’ll be covered.”
In addition to meeting Florida’s disclosure requirements, rock your Sunshine State home sale with a top Florida real estate agent. HomeLight’s Agent Match can connect you with top-performing agents in Florida who have the local experience and market knowledge to successfully guide you through every step of the home-selling or buying journey — from disclosures to closing, put a top professional in your corner.
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