real estate agent is a good source for finding out the status
of the local housing market. So is your statewide association
of Realtors, most of which are continuously compiling such statistics
from local real estate boards.
overall housing statistics, U.S. Housing Markets regularly publishes
quarterly reports on home building and home buying. Your local
builders association probably gets this report. If not, the
housing research firm is located in Canton, Mich.; call (800)
755-6269 for information; the firm also maintains an Internet
site. Finally, check with the U.S. Bureau of the Census in Washington,
D.C., at (301) 495-4700.
to disclose information about a property vary from state to
state. Under the strictest laws, the seller and the seller's
broker, if there is one, are required to disclose all facts
materially affecting the value or desirability of the property
which are known or accessible only to him.
sellers often disclose include: homeowners association dues;
whether or not work done on the house meets local building codes
and permits requirements; the presence of any neighborhood nuisances
or noises which a prospective buyer might not notice, such as
a dog that barks every night or poor TV reception; any death
within three years on the property and any restrictions on the
use of the property, such as zoning ordinances or association
is wise to check your state's disclosure rules prior to a home
inspections, seller disclosure requirements and the agent's
experience will also be useful. Disclosure laws vary by state,
but in some states, the law requires the seller to complete
a real estate transfer disclosure statement. Here is a summary
of the things you could expect to see in a disclosure form:
the kitchen -- a range, oven, microwave, dishwasher, garbage
disposal, trash compactor.
Safety features such as burglar and fire alarms, smoke detectors,
sprinklers, security gate, window screens and intercom.
presence of a TV antenna or satellite dish, carport or garage,
automatic garage door opener, rain gutters, sump pump.
such as a pool or spa, patio or deck, built-in barbeque and
of heating, condition of electrical wiring, gas supply and presence
of any external power source, such as solar panels.
type of water heater, water supply, sewer system or septic tank
also should be disclosed.
Sellers also are required to indicate any significant defects
or malfunctions existing in the home's major systems. A checklist
specifies interior and exterior walls, ceilings, roof, insulation,
windows, fences, driveway, sidewalks, floors, doors, foundation,
as well as the electrical and plumbing systems.
form also asks sellers to note the presence of environmental
hazards, walls or fences shared with adjoining landowners, any
encroachments or easements, room additions or repairs made without
the necessary permits or not in compliance with building codes,
zoning violations, citations against the property and lawsuits
against the seller affecting the property.
look for, or ask about, settling, sliding or soil problems,
flooding or drainage problems and any major damage resulting
from earthquakes, floods or landslides.
buying a condominium must be told about covenants, codes and
restrictions or other deed restrictions.
important to note that the simple idea of disclosing defects
has broadened significantly in recent years. Many jurisdictions
have their own mandated disclosure forms as do many brokers
and agents. Also, the home inspection and home warranty industries
have grown significantly to accommodate increased demand from
cautious buyers. Be sure to ask questions about anything that
remains unclear or does not seem to be properly addressed by
the forms provided to you.