Show and Tell? Or Show and Not Tell? (Your Disclosure Obligations When Selling a Home.)

Easements, Real Property

Whenever you sell a home, you have certain obligations. One of the most important obligations you have is to disclose (i.e., “tell”) prospective buyers about certain conditions of the property.

Why Disclose?

Property sales disclosures protect homebuyers from buying a property that has dangerous or material defects that they cannot discover through a reasonable inspection of the property. They also serve to protect the seller of the home from a later lawsuit when the unsuspecting buyer discovers or is injured by the defect that the seller knew about but did not disclose.

What Do You Need to Disclose?

While some states require homeowners to make a significant number of disclosures, Georgia follows a modified “caveat emptor” (“buyer beware”) rule. While you don’t have to point out obvious defects in the property that a buyer can see for himself, in Georgia, home sellers must disclose any known latent or material defects. A latent defect is one which the buyer could not discover by a reasonable inspection of the property. A material defect is one which would, if the buyer knew about it, make a difference to whether or not he would buy or the price he would pay.

For example, a latent and material defect could be something like a major problem with the HVAC (air conditioning and heating). Or a foundation or termite problem.

Lawsuits arise in residential real estate situations when a seller tries to hide (or lie about) a material defect in an attempt to get a higher price from the sale of the house.

Let’s Be Honest

The best practice when selling a home is to disclose more than you are required to by law. In other words, if you know of some defect in the property that is not obvious to the buyer (the driveway floods when it rains; there is traffic noise from a nearby highway, the neighbor is a sex offender, etc.) disclose it.

And answer any questions that the buyer may have honestly. Buyers may ask if anyone died in the house, or what repairs have been made in the past, or what the neighbors are like. Be honest. Trying to “sugar coat” or hide the truth in order to get a higher price for your home or a quick sale can lead to time-consuming and expensive litigation later.

As in all things, when it comes to selling your home,  honesty is the best policy.

If You Have Real Estate Questions, We Have Answers

We handle all types of real estate cases, and have done for nearly 20 years. If you have a real estate problem, we can help craft a solution. We have offices in Cumming, Georgia. We serve Atlanta and a number of the surrounding counties. To schedule your free phone consultation, call us at: 770-888-7707 or e-mail your inquiries to

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