I hear a lot of agents talk about the perils of disclosure in this business. What they are required to disclose and what they are not. I have also read several posts on different forums that posed the exact same question and handle to handle a more specific situation with their clients as well as other buyers and sellers. For me I operate off of a simple rule of thumb.
When in doubt disclose. If you are not sure whether or not you should disclose a particular situation, then it is usually best that you disclose it. This becomes tricky in certain situations, especially when you are the listing agent. You must disclose all material facts, such as damage to a property that you know exists. This is something that can change whether or not a buyer will make an offer on a property and we should and are required to disclose all these material facts. Some other situations require that you have your client's permission to disclose information, but if you feel it needs to be disclosed then you should ask your seller for the right to do so.
In other situations, such as a stigma on the property, then a lot of that depends on the state you are in. Say for example that someone has committed suicide in the home for sale, or it is a wide held belief that the house is haunted. In South Carolina, these are considered stigmas on the property and we are not required to disclose this unless we are specifically asked. Other states however, may have different rules that apply and I am not sure what the laws are for each of the states in this regard.
Here in Columbia, it may be a deterrent some buyers to know that there has been a death on the property. However in certain markets, such as Charleston, SC it may not be a bad thing at all and you may want to disclose it publicly. In Charleston ghost tours are quite popular and houses down town that have a stigma such as that on the home, are actually a little more sought after in certain circumstances.
With all this in mind, I have always been under the belief that disclosure is the best way when you are confused. Of course you should speak with your clients first where they are concerned. But the fact of the matter is that the truth always comes out in the wash and the last thing you want is something coming back to haunt you. People in general are curious being, and they will usually find out the truth in the end when they want to know. So, if you are upfront and honest from the beginning, then there is usually nothing to come back and bite you when they do their research.
JL Boney, III - Columbia, SC Realtor - Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate
I specialize in Columbia, SC real estate and the surrounding areas, including Blythewood, SC, Kershaw County, Fairfield County, and Lexington, SC. If you are in the market to buy or sell a home in Columbia, SC or any of the surrounding areas, I would love the opportunity to speak with to see how I can help. Thanks for reading and feel free to contact me if I can be of service to you.
Office- 803-788-1450 Cell- 803-730-9601 Email- James_Boney@Yahoo.com