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Home seller disclosure rules

When homeowners in California decide it's time to move, they usually hope for a quick sale. While a well-maintained, good-looking residents and a qualified real estate agent can help ensure this, home sellers are obligated to disclose certain information about their properties.

Homes have a history, and not all of it is always good. The law often states that buyers have a right to know this history, even if the home seller is not personally responsible for the circumstances. Not making a disclosure can possibly result in litigation down the road.

In some cases, disclosures are of a health and safety nature. Mold, lead paint, pests and drainage problems can have a severe impact on the health of the people living in a home. They can also be expensive to remedy later on, so it's important to disclose these issues to a potential buyer.

Other disclosures are of a social and legal nature. For example, homeowners who have been engaged in a neighbor dispute over boundaries or other issues should let potential buyers know about this. Other problems include so-called "emotional defects," such as information about murders, suicides or other violent crimes committed within the home. Curiously, some experts even recommend disclosing reports of paranormal activity, such as ghosts or other supernatural creatures that might have taken residence within the property.

Individuals who are preparing to sell their home may benefit from speaking with an experienced real estate attorney, particularly if they are unsure about what types of disclosures they have to make. Counsel can review the history of the house, including maintenance and other records, and provide advice on which disclosures are necessary.

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