Buying a home is exciting and also complicated since it’s one of the most important investments a person will ever make. What every potential buyer needs to know is whether there is anything about the home that will require major repairs or that poses a health risk.
Disclosing material defects or anything that may cause a buyer to reconsider purchasing a home is the responsibility of every real estate agent. Beyond that, agents in Massachusetts are required to paint the most complete and accurate picture of the homes they’re selling.
Understanding the fine print in Massachusetts real estate regulations
While pointing out material defects to potential buyers is a good starting point, Massachusetts Consumer Protection Law Chapter 93A takes disclosure a step further. This regulation states that agents must point out anything that would influence someone’s decision about whether or not to buy a home.
Whether there’s a mold problem, high levels of radon or something else, it is the responsibility of the agent to make potential buyers aware, regardless of whether or not the agent is asked about those issues.
Disclosures can be tricky
Despite the obligations realtors in Massachusetts face, they’re mostly limited to what the sellers tell them about the home. And sellers are only required to disclose two pieces of information – whether or not their home contains lead and the condition of their septic tank.
The real issue is that there is no way for agents to disclose problems about the home that only the seller knows about and doesn’t disclose. One way agents attempt to address this is by having their clients complete a “seller’s statement of property condition.” This checklist is helpful in pointing out areas of a home that need to be fixed in some way, but sellers aren’t legally required to fill them out.
Buyers need to be prepared to ask lots of questions
What’s clear to see is that buyers will only find out about the true condition of the home when they’re prepared to ask owners about anything that may be a cause for concern. This can include questions about any prior leaks, the last time the roof was replaced, whether there have been any infestations, issues with the foundation, electrical problems or anything else that could be problematic.
Simply asking the right questions is more than half the battle when determining if the home you’re pursuing is a good fit.