18 Problems You'll Need to Note in a Florida Seller's Disclosure

18 Problems You'll Need to Note in a Florida Seller's Disclosure

Posted on Dec 09, 2020

For first time home sellers, the seller’s disclosure statement can be confusing. What do you have to note, and what can you leave out? 

Every state has its own laws concerning disclosure and what is required as part of a home sale, and both sellers and buyers should be aware of what to expect. Here’s what you need to know about Florida seller disclosure laws.

What is the seller’s disclosure statement?

A disclosure statement, or document, is a basic outline of any significant flaws or defects that could impact a home’s value. Generally speaking, minor wear and tear (such as scuff marks on a hardwood floor) are not covered by disclosure laws, but significant flaws - like flooding, or a shifting foundation - are. 

The property disclosure document helps prepare the buyer for what to expect, while also protecting the seller’s liability.

It’s important to note that Florida does not require the official Florida Association of Realtors form for sellers to disclose. All Florida requires is that the seller provides any information about known material facts regarding the property. Using the official form is recommended, though, because it’s very comprehensive - ensuring you’re less likely to miss something important.

FL disclosure law does not even require a written disclosure - you could opt to do it verbally. But this is generally not advisable - it would become your word against the new homeowner’s word if something went wrong.

Is it important to tell the truth on a Florida disclosure form?

Home sellers often worry about how disclosing issues like former termites will impact their home’s appeal, but they should keep in mind that buyers expect there to be some issues with the homes they’re buying, and noting issues on the disclosure form won’t make a home unsellable. In most situations, buyers will instead request seller’s concessions to cover some or all of the cost of the necessary repairs. 

If you’re on the fence about whether or not to document something (such as an issue that’s been completely resolved by the time of sale), you’re usually better off documenting it anyway. This limits your liability later. Real estate lawsuits are common, and you don’t want to be drawn into a lengthy legal dispute if you don’t need to be. 

“It’s extremely important for sellers to tell the truth as much as they know it to be when filling out the sellers disclosure, to limit their future liability as a result of non-disclosure,” notes Orlando-based listing agent Brandon Mitchell. “It’s always better to err on the side of caution.”

How is a Florida Seller’s Disclosure different?

Since every state’s disclosure laws are different, you may notice some differences if your last experience buying or selling a home was in a different state. 

Florida home sellers do not need to disclose potential ghosts - whereas in states like New York and New Jersey, residents are required to inform buyers if their home is rumored to be haunted. You also don’t need to disclose if someone has died in the home, whether by murder, suicide, or natural death.

As noted more extensively in the “what to expect” section, Florida is one of 21 states that doesn’t require homeowners to document past flooding. 

What if I didn’t know about a defect?

The seller’s disclosure liabilities only concern what the seller is aware of (or should be aware of). If you include your dishwasher in the home sale, accurately record its age, and it breaks down in the first week of ownership, that’s not your responsibility. On the other hand, if a crack in your basement wall leaks water every time it rains, you’ll be expected to note that - you can't just claim you didn't notice an obvious, reoccurring issue with your home.

This is why it’s incredibly important for home buyers to request home inspections - so that they can catch any issues that the current homeowners are unaware of. 

What about a home sold as-is?

Even if the buyer agrees to buy the property “as is,” with whatever flaws it has, you’re still obligated to disclose the home’s current condition and any defects you know of.

What to expect from theSeller’s Property Disclosure for Florida

  1. Property Information

In this section, you’ll need to note exactly what items are installed and in working condition (unless otherwise noted) in the home. If your home comes with a refrigerator, bathroom mirror, dishwasher, in-ground pool, or solar panels, for example, these will be covered under property information. This section also covers your utilities, such as documenting whether you use an electric or gas supply.

2. Claims and assessments

In this section, the seller is required to note whether there are any assessments, legal actions, etc. affecting the property. If local authorities have notified you that your property needs certain repairs, that will need to be noted here. This section includes any pending legal or administrative action impacting common areas (such as a neighborhood tennis court). 

3. Deed/Homeowners’/Condominium Association Restrictions

In this section, you’ll need to let the buyer know any fees your HOA requires, as well as where they’re payable to. This section also covers any restrictions imposed by HOA-type organizations, such as limitations on resales or leasing. 

4. Environment

This section covers hazardous substances (such as asbestos, radon gas, and propane) on your property, as well as any cleanups of hazardous substances. Any property built before 1978 requires an additional lead paint disclosure. You will also need to note whether your property is considered an environmentally sensitive area (such as a wetland) or of archaeological importance.

5. Roads/Land Use

In this section you will need to note whether the access roads to the property are public or private, and whether your property is zoned for its current use. 

6. Additions/Remodeling/Insurance Claims

Many homeowners will need to note something in this section, which covers structural damage to the property (such as flooding) as well as any alterations that have been made (such as the addition of a sunroom, or knocking down a wall). You’ll need to explicitly state whether the required permits were obtained, as well as the names of any contractors you used.

7. Roof-related Items 

In this section you’ll need to note the approximate age of your roof, whether it’s ever experienced leaks, as well as any repairs or replacements that have been done. If there’s a warranty on your roof, you’ll need to provide a copy along with the disclosure report.

8. Pool/Spa or Hot Tub

If you have a pool, spa or hot tub, this section will cover the associated upkeep - whether or not it has a heater, the type of heater, the age of the pool, the chlorination system, etc. You’ll also need to check off that it has the required safety features (such as door locks).

9. Heating and Air Conditioning

Does your home have central air conditioning or heating? What about solar heating? You’ll need to note the systems your home uses, as well as their age and any issues they’ve had.

10. Water Intrusion

If you’ve ever had issues with water seeping through your basement, you’ll need to note it here. Any dampness and water intrusion issues - including into crawlspaces - should be documented.

11. Sinkholes, Settling, and Soil Movement

Sinkholes are common in Florida thanks to ample limestone there, which slowly dissolves when exposed to acidic water. You’ll need to note any instances of soil movement, as well as insurance claims done to repair sink holes, etc. 

12. Windows/Doors/Locks

Are your windows made from insulated glass, and are any cracked or broken? Do all your windows open, close and lock properly? This section deals with the condition of your home’s doors, windows and locks.

13. Plumbing

This section covers both plumbing issues, as well as your drinking water supply source and sewage system. You’ll need to note any relevant details here (such as the age of your septic tank, if you have one).

14. Electrical System

If you’ve had any malfunctioning switches or damage to your electrical system, you’ll need to note it here. You’ll also need to note if your property has aluminum wiring (aluminum was used in the 70s when copper prices peaked - though it’s a better material, devices at the time weren’t built to work with aluminum and it can be a potential fire hazard as a result). 

15. Exclusions/Leased Systems

If there are items affixed to your home that aren’t part of the sale, you’ll note it here.

16. Wood-destroying Organisms

As we’ve detailed before, Florida ranks high when it comes to home insect issues. If you’ve ever had issues with termites or ants - even if you were able to successfully control the problem - you’ll need to note it here. Any issues with wood-destroying fungi also need to be noted.

17. Flood Zone/Drainage/Boundaries

Is your home located in a flood zone that may require additional flood insurance? If so, you’ll need to note it here. Section 17 also covers boundary issues and shared access areas, like a dock or well. 

It’s important to note that, unlike most states, Florida doesn’t require homeowners to disclose a home’s flood history, despite being a state prone to flooding - so buyers should be extra diligent. 

18. Other Matters

If anyone, such as a current renter or a HOA, has a right of first refusal when it comes to someone buying the property, you’ll need to note it here. Section 18 also concerns homestead tax exemptions, any existing legal actions impacting the property, etc.

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