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What Disclosures Do I Have to Make When Selling My Home?

Posted on 8th Mar 2016

New York law requires that an owner disclose certain property defects or conditions when selling a house. It used to be that a New Yorker could be silent about defects without facing liability -- the burden was on the buyer to inspect the property, review public records and hope for the best. Those days are over and some disclosures are now required.

The Property Condition Disclosure Act (PCDA)

The Property Condition Disclosure Act applies to all residential property, which is defined as one- to four-family dwellings used or intended to be used as residences by one or more people. Condominiums, cooperative apartment buildings, vacant land and property in homeowners associations but not owned by the seller are all exempt from the disclosure requirements of the PCDA.

What the Disclosure Must Include

The PCDA requires that sellers complete a Property Condition Disclosure Statement which includes almost 50 questions about your residential property. The questions are organized into four categories:

  • General Information: This includes background information disclosures, including the age, ownership and history of possession of the property.
  • Environmental Information: This category requires that you provide environmental information about the residential property you wish to sell, including whether a radon test has been performed, if the property is in a flood plain, and if the property contains asbestos, lead pipes or underground storage tanks. You must also disclose information relating to the release of any hazardous or toxic chemicals on the property.
  • Structural Information: Structural information disclosures include any water damage, fire damage, smoke damage or insect damage exists, as well as information regarding the condition of the roof.
  • Mechanical Systems and Services: This is the last section of the disclosure, and it relates to the water source, the water quality, the sewage and drainage, and flooding, and the utilities that service the property.

The statement requires that you indicate known defects in any systems or property components by checkmark, including the heat, hot water, air conditioning, plumbing, security, foundation, walls, floors, sump pump, patio, deck or driveway. You are required to describe any defect in detail under the PCDA.

The Process for Completing the Disclosure Statement

Your real estate agent or the broker who is representing you is required by law to remind you of your duties to disclose under the PCDA. He will most likely provide you with the form necessary. You must answer all the questions in the statement and explain any known defects in the space provided or on a separate form. You also must sign the statement at the bottom of the last page, certifying that your answers and explanations are true and complete. The buyer should have the signed disclosure in hand before signing the contract of sale. A copy of the completed form should be attached to the final contract.