Thursday, October 29, 2009

Seller's Property Disclosure Statement; Pennsylvania's real estate disclosure requirements; seller's refusal to provide disclosure; 68 Pa.C.S.A. 7303;

From April 2005 comes this blogpost about an attorney-seller that refused to provide the required disclosure form until after a buyer presented a written offer:
The following caveat appears in a listing for an Easton (PA) property: "Sellers Disclosure will be disclosed when offers are presented. None online. Investor has not lived in property."

The language quoted above conflicts with 68 Pa.C.S.A. 7303, which requires delivery of the disclosure form to the buyer "prior to the signing of an agreement." The Realtor in that case "had an appointment to show this property on Saturday and requested the disclosure. I was told that the seller would not release the disclosure until he had an offer in hand: "'He is an attorney and he knows the law.'"

The blog post concludes as follows - "We passed on that showing."

While the statute does not say "prior to presentation of an offer," any offer would become a binding agreement upon acceptance by the seller. Following the seller's instructions in the above case could very well create a binding agreement before the buyer ever saw the disclosure form.

The point I am trying to make by quoting this blog post is not merely to point out the disclosure law requiring provision of the disclosure form prior to execution of an agreement, but to point out the proper response by a buyer to a situation like the one presented above. The Realtor's response was correct. She passed on the showing.

Don't bother with sellers that appear to be cutting corners in the disclosure process. Sellers that act secretive are acting that way for a reason. Rather than confront the seller with the statute and try to force a disclosure out of him prior to making an offer, move on to another property.

In many of the cases that come to me regarding real estate fraud and nondisclosure of defects, the sellers had acted suspicously like the seller above. But in the cases that have ended up in court, the buyers had forced the issue rather than walk away prior to making an offer. Don't chase sellers whose behavior indicates that they have something to hide.

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