What To Disclose When Selling


Did you know that Massachusetts is a caveat emptor, also know as a “buyer beware” state?

This means that you are legally required to disclose only a minimal amount of information when selling your property. In fact, the burden is on buyers to ask the right questions and perform their own due diligence. All the seller is required to do is answer all questions truthfully.

So what does Massachusetts law require home sellers to disclose?

For starters, if you’re selling a house you have to disclose whether lead paint exists. You also need to disclose the presence and condition of a septic system.

With that said, it’s still important for sellers to be upfront about any issues with the house.

While we understand that sellers don’t want to discourage potential buyers, undisclosed problems are likely to be discovered during a home inspection.

If this happens, buyers will be less inclined to negotiate with you - or even move forward - because they may feel like you’re covering up other issues. Not only that but if an problem is discovered after the sale closes and the buyer believes you were aware of it, you may find yourself facing a lawsuit.

Keep in mind that no home is without its problems.

Yet, being honest about what you’re selling can help lead to a smooth transaction and successful sale. And, if a buyer makes an offer after knowing about any issues, you can feel confident that he will likely close on the sale. Another added benefit of honesty: It makes it much harder for a buyer to ask for repairs or a seller concession after a home inspection if you’ve already disclosed the issues prior to the offer.

What should you tell your realtor?

While sellers are not required to disclose much, the rules are different for realtors.

Realtors must disclose any known active problems and defects with a home - even though this could potentially change a buyer’s decision to move forward.

So, while you don’t have to tell buyers about every single little repair you’ve ever made, you should discuss the following with your realtor:

  • Issues with water damage, flooding or mold

  • Major repairs and renovations made during your ownership

  • Problems with the foundation

  • Termite damage

  • Age and functionality of the systems (heating, cooling, plumbing)

  • Age of roof and any leaks or repairs made

Disclose to close

As a seller, your goal is to sell your property and move on with your life. Rather than make the transaction more complicated than it needs to be, sit down with your realtor and discuss the above points prior to listing your home for sale.

Want to learn more? Let’s set up a time to talk.

Ariel Szabo