Seller Disclosures

Florida law requires a Seller of a home to disclose to the Buyer all known facts that materially affect the value of the property being sold and that are not readily observable or known by the Buyer.

When selling your home, you are obligated to disclose problems that could affect the property’s value or desirability. In Florida, it is illegal to fraudulently conceal major physical defects in your property, such as flooding in heavy rains.

Generally, you are responsible for disclosing only information within your personal knowledge, but that doesn’t mean you’ll always have an adequate defense if you are sued over an obvious defect or in cases where the law requires you to determine whether a defect exists.

While it’s not usually required, many sellers hire a general contractor to inspect the property. The information will help you determine what needs repair or replacement and will assist you with preparing any required disclosures. An inspection report is also useful in pricing your house and negotiating with prospective buyers.

If you have an inkling of a question about whether or not you should disclose something, avoid the potential for liability and tell potential buyers about it. Full disclosure of any property defects found in a home inspection will help protect you from legal problems later, such as buyers who want out of the deal or who claim damages suffered because you carelessly or intentionally withheld information about your property.

And remember, just because you disclose a problem doesn’t mean you must repair or correct it. The disclosed item can become a point of negotiation between you and your buyer.

Most laws mandate disclosures on special disclosure forms the seller must sign and date. Be sure the buyer acknowledges receipt of the disclosures by signing and dating the form as well. If your state doesn’t require a specific disclosure form, be sure the buyer otherwise affirms receipt of your disclosures in writing.

Check with your city planning department for information on local ordinances and disclosures that affect your sale. Finally, be aware that real estate brokers are increasingly requiring that sellers complete disclosure forms, regardless of whether or not it’s legally required.

Sellers Must Disclose Lead-Based Paint and Hazards. If you are selling a house built before 1978, you must comply with the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992 (U.S. Code §4852d), also known as Title X.

You must disclose all known lead-based paint and hazards in the house, give buyers a pamphlet prepared by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) called Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home, include certain warning language in the contract as well as signed statements from all parties verifying that all requirements were completed, keep signed acknowledgements for three years as proof of compliance, and give buyers a ten-day opportunity to test the housing for lead.

If you fail to comply with Title X requirements, the buyer can sue you for triple the amount of damages.

For more information on lead hazards, prevention and disclosures, contact the National Lead Information Center by phone at (800) 424-LEAD, or check their website at The National Lead Information Center.