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The simple definition of disclosure is “the action of making new or secret information known.” The antonym is equally simple and profound, “concealment.” In California real estate, the Transfer Disclosure Statement is something sellers are required to provide to the buyers when they transfer or sell their property. A second disclosure is the Seller Property Questionnaire which provides a more in-depth disclosure about the structure, the parcel, the neighborhood, etc. Both forms are a series of questions that the seller answers.

Some of the questions are benign, like do you have a range, a garage, smoke detectors? Others require a bit more thought, like what kind of roof do you have and how old is it? These types of questions are easy for the seller to answer. You either have it or you don’t, you either know the type of item and its age or you don’t. But then there are questions that many times cause a seller to pause and ask themselves or us, “should I tell them that?” Questions like, “should we tell them that we had a roof leak, since we repaired it and it was over five years ago?” We chuckle and let them know that if you must ask, the answer is yes.

Disclosures in a real estate transaction need to be seen as an opportunity to tell the prospective buyers everything you know about the property; the good, the bad, and the ugly. The buyers receive these disclosures within a week of an accepted offer. Our practice is to provide the sellers’ disclosures immediately when an offer has been accepted. Think of it like this. Do you remember when you met your spouse? Early on, when you were head over heels in love with them, they could have told you anything, and you still would have wanted to marry them.