What is a Homeowner Required to Disclose to a Buyer in Billerica, MA ?

What is a Homeowner Required to Disclose to a Buyer  in Billerica, MA ?
Annemarie LaTul…:
Today, we’re talking about disclosures and what is required of a homeowner to disclose to a buyer prior to sale.

What’s up, you guys? I’m Annemarie LaTulip with EXP Realty out here in Billerica, Massachusetts, Greater Boston area. So, just what is required of a homeowner? Well, that’ll vary largely on state law. Each state will have its own variation of law. However, it’s important that we understand that Massachusetts is what’s called a Buyer Beware state. So, what does that mean?

Buyer Beware state means that there is very little that a seller is legally required to disclose to a buyer. So, the responsibility falls largely on the buyer, and especially the buyer’s agent, to perform their own due diligence. In fact, in the State of Massachusetts, there are only two things that a homeowner is legally required to disclose. Now, I keep saying legally, because ethically we would hope that a seller would tell us everything that they know, but unfortunately the law doesn’t require them to do that.

What are the two things that a seller must disclose to a buyer? Okay. Number one, lead paint. If the home was built prior to 1978, the seller must notify the buyer about the dangers of lead paint in the house. At the start of the transaction, everybody involved will sign what’s called a Lead Paint Disclosure. If the seller has ever had any treatment done or has ever had any testing done, the seller must provide the buyer with any documentation, proving removal and compliance.

If the seller has no knowledge of lead paint and has no documents, that’s okay too. At that point, the buyer would receive a 10-day opportunity to test and treat for lead. If the buyer chooses to test, and lead paint is found, the responsibility for removal falls on the buyer. The seller is not responsible to test or treat for lead paint in Massachusetts. The laws are a little bit different when it comes to landlords and tenants, but I’ll talk about that in a different video.

The second thing that a seller must disclose to a potential buyer is the presence of a septic system. If the property is being serviced by a septic system versus municipal sewer or town sewer, Title 5 of the Massachusetts State Environmental Code states that a property using a septic system must have the septic system inspected and pass inspection within two years prior to the sale.

The property must pass inspection in order to receive what’s called a Title 5 Certificate, indicating that the system is compliant and functioning properly. The law doesn’t specify who is responsible for testing or for any repair of the septic tank. However, it generally falls on the seller. In most cases, it is the seller’s responsibility. However, in situations like a short sale or a foreclosure, sometimes the responsibility will fall on the buyer. But generally it is up to the seller.

It’s important to understand that different towns have different requirements when it comes to a septic system versus town sewer. Let me tell you what I mean. For example, here in Billerica, if you have a septic system and it passes inspection, you have your Title 5 report. However, there is town sewer available to tie into on the street. If you are selling your home, you must connect to town sewer, even if your septic system is functioning beautifully. You must connect to town sewer to be compliant with Billerica town law.

Now, in neighboring Tewkesbury, five minutes away, same situation. If you’re putting your home on the market and you have town sewer on the streets, but your septic tank passes inspection and you have a clean certificate, you have the option to connect to town servers. You don’t have to. The new buyer can take the Title 5 Certificate and connect when they would like to. So, it’s important to check each town law, if the property that you’re interested in has a septic system. Of course, a good buyer’s agent will definitely be able to help you walk through those steps.

Now, I understand that it’s really difficult to get an offer accepted in this market. It’s almost impossible. And making an offer that waives your right to a home inspection is very common, but it’s also very, very risky. As I mentioned before, there’s not a lot that the seller is required to disclose, which also means that a property disclosure form or a statement of condition is not a mandatory form here in Massachusetts. And there’s a lot of confusion about this. I’ve represented many buyers who were under the impression that this is a document that the sellers must fill out. And unfortunately, it’s not.

When making an offer on the home, make sure that if you’re about to waive your home inspection, that you and your agent do all of your due diligence, ask all of the right questions, do as much research in the time that you have. I know that it’s often not a lot of time, but make sure that you have enough information, and also consider the home’s age.

If you’re about to make an offer on a house that was built in 1920, make sure you have as much information as possible because waiving your home inspection means that you can’t have anybody in there at all during the contract period. No friends, no plumbers, no electricians, nobody. And if for some reason you’re able to get one in and they tell you something negative about the house, you forfeited your inspection, so that means you can’t walk away and get your deposit back, okay? Just be very, very sure, when waiving your home inspection, that you know what you’re getting into. And remember, like I said, Massachusetts, Buyer Beware state.

Thank you, everybody, so much for watching. I hope you found this helpful. If you like my videos, go ahead and click on that little red subscribe button. Once again, I’m Annemarie LaTulip with EXP Realty. If you’d like some more information about buying a house here in Massachusetts, click on the link below for my Free Buyer’s Guide. Thanks, everybody. And I will see you on my next video. Happy house hunting.
ALaTulip

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