Reader Questions – Disclosures, Finding Accurate Information & Caveat Emptor

I love questions.

“Full disclosure information – What are all the times that a buyer should ask about a property? Where is the best place to find that information? We find the listing information to be very sparse and often misleading. Agents often provide bad information of none at all. We end up doing a lot of Internet research to assemble facts.”

This is the nature of the world in which we live. I’m looking at an email now from a client that has links to listings on Trulia, Zillow, my site, Nest’s site, another local agent’s site … and I’m going to supplement that with MLS history, local tax history and context and maybe mortgage records from RPR.

Another email recently received from a client referenced the other party’s house, what they did before they passed away, where their kids live, and one of the big remaining questions was “how long has the house been vacant?”

Remember that Virginia is a Caveat Emptor state.

The Sellers’ required “disclosures” are anything but. Have a look at part of the relevant Virginia Code (which is altered every year, seemingly) as well as the same disclosures worded differently on the DPOR site. Very, very rarely have I seen a seller actually disclose something on the Residential Property Disclosure. Very. Rarely.

Note the most commonly used phrase: (bolding mine)

“1. The owner makes no representations …

2. The owner represents that there are no pending enforcement actions pursuant to the Uniform Statewide Building Code

1. The owner makes no representations or warranties as to the condition of the real property or any improvements thereon, and purchasers are advised to exercise whatever due diligence a particular purchaser deems necessary including obtaining a certified home inspection, as defined in § 54.1-500, in accordance with terms and conditions as may be contained in the real estate purchase contract, but in any event, prior to settlement pursuant to such contract;

2. The owner makes no representations with respect to any matters that may pertain to parcels adjacent to …

3. The owner makes no representations to any matters …”

And on. And on. And on.

My advice:

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