Anyone selling residential property in the US is legally obliged to provide the buyer with certain information regarding the state of the property they’re selling. Exactly what the seller needs to disclose varies from state to state, so Countywide Title Company in Plainview would like to give you a breakdown of how disclosure law operates in Texas.

What information needs to be disclosed?

In Texas, sellers are required to disclose any known defects with the property for sale, including issues relating to the structure (including roof and foundation), walls, windows, lighting fixtures, plumbing, and wiring. Sellers are also obliged to disclose any past issues with termites, flooding, improper drainage, fires, and so forth, and any history of zoning violations or legal disputes over the property. There are also a number of disclosures required by federal law, namely the presence of lead paint or radon gas on the property. In Texas, sellers are also required to provide a breakdown of the state of any appliances and utilities included in the sale, including white goods, cable, central air conditioning, ovens, grills, smoke detectors and so on. Sellers must also let buyers know if ownership of the property brings with it membership of a Homeowners’ Association and any associated fees, or if any area of the property is a ‘common area’ co-owned with others.

The language of disclosure law is fairly loose, but in effect sellers must tell buyers about any issue with the house of which they are aware.

What if the seller doesn’t disclose a defect?

If the seller does not provide the buyer with an adequately filed disclosure form, the buyer retains the right to walk away from the sale. If, after the sale, the buyer notices a defect that went undisclosed, they have the option of filing a dispute against the seller. If it is found that the seller was aware of the defect, they may be held accountable for costs of repair and any legal fees. If the defect caused physical harm, the seller may also face charges of negligence, and if it is believed that the seller deliberately avoided disclosing some information then they may face other serious charges such as fraudulence.

It is a good idea for sellers to hire a home inspector to undertake a thorough investigation of their home and to disclose any defect very thoroughly, as this means avoiding any possible legal disputes in future. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

If you’re planning on buying a new home, making sure the property is in good condition is only one way to protect your investment. You’ll also want to protect yourself from possible issues with the deed, so to secure title insurance in Plainview, contact Countywide Title Company at (806) 293-8363.


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