The Golden Rule of Disclosures

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The Golden Rule of filling out disclosures can be summarized as follows:  If there is any doubt, disclose it.  You’ll sleep better.

When I was still practicing as an attorney, disclosure issues were far and away the number one contested issue in residential real estate transactions. Here are a few not-so-obvious ones that are likely to pop up with your San Carlos home:

(1)  Water Under the House.  For most of the homes built in the flatlands, the base of Devonshire Canyon and other various locations, signs of water accumulation under the house is very common.  Prolonged and continuous standing water can cause issues with structural integrity.  If you have had the pleasure of wedging yourself through your crawl space and notice dirt which is wet, muddy or see standing water you must note these items on your disclosure documentation.

(2) Barking Dogs.  San Carlos is very dog-friendly.  However, there is a difference between being dog-friendly and listening to your neighbor’s dog bark through all hours of the night.  In fact, even minimal barking should be reported on your disclosure forms.  Some people can’t stand the thought of a barking dog.  Make no mistake, something as simple as a neighborhood dog barking a few times a day for limited duration is actionable if it is not disclosed.

(3) Parking.  If parking on the street of your home is limited or congested at times, it must be disclosed.  San Carlos has many homes which are close to schools, parks and downtown….all of which can hamper parking and escalate congestion.  Additionally, if you have a curb that is painted red, white, yellow or blue, outside or in close proximity to your driveway, that must be disclosed as well.

(4)  Neighbors.  While I would like to think that all neighbors get along in San Carlos, they don’t.  If you have had any type of dispute with your neighbor over the property or actions on the property, it must be disclosed.  If your neighbor thinks he is the next Van Halen and loves rocking out with his buddies, it must be disclosed.  If your neighbor works on and revs up his motorcycle in the driveway, it must be disclosed.

(5) Schools, Parks & Churches.  While many find living close to schools, parks and churches convenient, there are many special disclosure items that should come along with living near any of them. The first is obvious, noise.  The noise from kids playing at recess travels.  So do booming voices of enthusiastic parent-coaches from nearby soccer and baseball fields. Annual special events also happen at all three venues which can create excess noise and traffic congestion.  All of these items must be disclosed.

Disclosures are where most sellers stumble. Rely on your agent’s advice, but do not be afraid to contact legal counsel when dealing with a particularly tricky disclosure item…otherwise, the Golden Rule of Disclosures works well.

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bobbredel