The law requires you to disclose specific facts when selling residential real estate. For example, federal law requires you to disclose the presence of lead paint.
When trying to sell a property, you might be tempted to be “economical with the truth.” Yet, a lack of transparency could backfire and land you in legal problems.
What does New York require you to disclose when selling a residential property?
New York State law requires sellers of most residential property to complete a disclosure form. The form covers several areas, including:
- Problematic land: Castles made of sand fall into the sea, houses built over sinkholes get swallowed up, and apartment blocks built on a wetland flood. Or at least they may do eventually. You need to declare such things in the form.
- Structural faults: You might not know about all your property’s defects. If you can prove this, a buyer will struggle to hold you responsible. If, however, they can convince a court you knew and were hiding it, they may succeed in legal action. Surveying before you sell might seem unnecessary, yet it can ensure you have accurate information to give a seller or a surveyor to blame if the report is incorrect.
- Toxic substances: Soil and groundwater can store hazardous chemicals for decades, causing harm to future inhabitants. If your house was once the site of a pesticide factory, you should mention it.
- Ownership issues: Make clear if anyone else has a claim on the property. Be that a title claim or something minor like an easement that gives them access across your land.
If you do not want to complete the disclosure, the law offers you an alternative. You can give the buyer a $500 credit off the purchase price instead. However, paying this will not protect you from potential action by the buyer. Understanding the consequences of your disclosure choices is crucial to ensure your real estate sale does not end in legal action.