19 Things You’ll Need to Note on a Maryland Home Disclosure Form

19 Things You’ll Need to Note on a Maryland Home Disclosure Form

Posted on Sep 07, 2021

Maryland home sellers are required to disclose the condition of their home. This means that they need to inform buyers of the condition of their property and any defects. Disclosure is a legal obligation and failing to properly disclose can open the seller to liability.

Maryland Law allows disclosure or disclaimer 

In Maryland, sellers can let buyers know the condition and defects of the house (the disclosure), or issue a disclaimer. The disclaimer essentially functions as selling the home “as is,” though you still need to mention latent (hidden) defects that can endanger the buyer's health or welfare - such as the presence of asbestos or a leak.

However, as a seller you will likely have better luck selling your home if you list it with a full disclosure statement. If you've lived in the home, buyers will expect to see it. With a full disclosure statement, buyers will be less worried that there are huge, unknown costs possible. 

If you’re selling your MD home, you may be wondering what exactly your obligations are when it comes to disclosure. Do you need to tell the homebuyer about the land dispute between you and your neighbor? What about the termites that were found in the wall - even though an exterminator successfully got rid of them?

The short answer is that if you are unsure of whether or not you need to disclose something, you probably do. 

Do I need to disclose this?

One of the most common questions listing agents receive about Maryland disclosure is, “do I have to disclose this?” You should reframe this question, though, as “what can I disclose?” If it’s an issue, you’re better off disclosing it and limiting your post-sale liability. Most buyers will not be put off by defects listed in the disclosure - it’s an anticipated part of the home sale (even for new homes!). 

Leaving defects out means they'll be revealed during the inspection. If you bring up issues during disclosure, it’s difficult for buyers to ask for a price discount later, after the inspection - after all, they knew about the issue when they agreed to the sale price. But if you leave issues for the buyer to discover, they may require a discounted sale price to move forward - and you may feel obligated to agree in order to close the sale. In other words, disclosing from the get-go can help you protect your profits as well. 

If you lie on the disclosure, you’ll be sweating it out for a while. According to the Maryland Statute of Limitations and Statutory Code § 5-101, the home buyer has three years from the point of harm in which they can bring a civil suit against you. Real estate litigation can be a costly battle, and homebuyers have sued for sellers not disclosing latent defects that impacted the safety of the property.

What a Maryland Realtor has to say

"Most of the state of Maryland uses the same disclosure disclaimer statement, excluding Montgomery County. If you own the property and live in the property, the seller (you) must disclose anything that could potentially interfere with the future owner's quiet enjoyment of that home," explains Baltimore-based listing agent June Piper-Brandon.

"If the seller inherited the property they can disclaim and say they have no knowledge; however, if they have knowledge of something to do with the property, they must disclose it. If the basement leaks when there is a hurricane and when the wind blows from a Northeasterly direction and it rains hard, they must disclose that.  If there are a lot of mice and snakes in the house, they must disclose that.  

Many agents will just have their clients sign the disclaimer portion and leave it at that; however, that does not preclude the seller from disclosing a defect in the property. If the seller knows something they must say something. 

In addition to the disclosure and disclaimer addendum, there are also 2 lead-based paint addendums in our Maryland contract, one is a state form and the other a mandated form. If the property was built prior to 1978, both of these forms are required. If the seller has ever had the property tested for lead-based paint, they must disclose the results of those tests and include the registration certificate with the disclosure package.  The agent can call the EPA and get a copy of the certificate if the seller no longer has a copy."

What you don’t need to list in the disclosure

There are only a few states that require occupants to list paranormal activity (or reputation for paranormal activity) in their disclosure statement, and Maryland isn’t one of those states. Similarly, under Maryland law sellers are not required to disclose whether deaths or felonies have occurred on the property. To find out more on this topic, visit A Homicide, Suicide, Accidental Death, Natural Death Or Felony Occurs On The Property – Must A Licensee Disclose Such Fact To A Buyer?


The MD Disclosure Form explained

The Maryland disclosure document starts by stating that there are exemptions to the disclosure/disclaimer requirement, and that includes certain transfers of property, a home that has never been occupied, a foreclosure, a property slated to be converted or demolished, and other similar cases. In other words, you won't need to note issues with the property if it's just going to be ripped down anyway.

"If the seller is a bank (foreclosure) or a trust, then they are both exempt from providing a disclosure," notes Piper-Brandon.

The first thing you’ll need to note on the Maryland disclosure document is how long you’ve owned the property for, and whether or not you have certain property systems such as a sewage disposal or garbage disposal. You also need to note how your heating, air conditioning, and hot water systems are supplied (oil, natural gas or electric, etc). 

After that, you'll need to record issues regarding any of the following 19 points.

  1. Foundation: You’ll need to note whether there’s been any settlement or other problems. Cracks, shifting, and bowed walls should be noted here.
  2. Basement: if there have been any signs of moisture or leaks, you’ll need to note that here.
  3. Roof: if there have been any signs of moisture or leaks, you’ll need to note that here - as well as the type of roofing used.
  4. Other Structural Systems: Have other structural systems, such as exterior walls, experienced defects? You’ll need to note that here.
  5. Plumbing System: Is the system in operating condition? Have there been any issues? Note that here.
  6. Heating System: Does heat get pushed to all the rooms, and is the system in working order? Note that here.
  7. Air Conditioning System: Does cool air come to every room, and is the system in working order? Note that here.
  8. Electric Systems: Any problems with outlets, wiring, circuit breakers, etc. need to be noted here. You also need to record whether your smoke detectors will still work if there’s a power outage.
  9. Septic Systems: Does the septic system work, and when was it last pumped? Make note of that here.
  10. Water Supply: Have there been any issues with the water supply? Is there a water treatment system or fire sprinkler system? Make sure to record that here.
  11. Insulation: Take note of whether there’s insulation in the ceiling, exterior walls, and any other areas.
  12. Exterior Drainage: if you’ve experienced drainage issues (such as water standing on the property for more than a full day after heavy rain) you’ll need to note that here, as well as the current condition of your gutters and downspouts. 
  13. Wood Destroying Insects: Has there ever been an infestation or prior damage? You’ll also need to make note of any treatments you’ve had done, as well as any warranties (from a pest control company or other).
  14. Hazardous/Regulated Materials: If there are any hazardous materials on the property, you’ll need to specify what those are here. This includes - but isn’t limited to - radon gas, lead-based paint, and asbestos. Any home built before 1978 is required to obtain a lead-based paint inspection.
  15. Carbon Monoxide Alarm: If the home uses fossil fuel combustion for anything - including hot water or for heat - is there a CO alarm installed? Note that here.
  16. Zoning/Building Restrictions: Zoning violations, nonconforming uses, and setback requirements all need to be recorded here.
  17. Flood Zone/Wetlands/Historic: If a property is located in a designated historic area, a wetland area, is considered a Chesapeake Bay critical area, or is in a flood zone, you’ll need to note that here.
  18. HOAs/Community Associations: If you belong to an HOA, you should note that here as well as any applicable monthly fees, etc.
  19. Additional Material Defects: This last category covers anything that impacts the physical condition of the property that wasn’t covered by the rest of the document. In other words, if you didn’t see a specific issue outlined above, don’t assume that’s a “get out of jail free” card. You are still responsible for listing any known defects. 

Further Reading for Selling a House in Maryland

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