Real estate disclosure forms and requirements are specific to each state and knowing what to disclose can prevent legal trouble. In New Jersey, the law requires sellers to promise the home is fit to live in rather than requiring sellers to complete a full disclosure form.
The New Jersey disclosure laws compel sellers to disclose known or concealed defects in the property. Because this is a limited exploration of issues, real estate agents often recommend completing a more detailed property condition disclosure statement. Here are some things to ask about before signing a contract.
1. Lead-based paint
For houses built prior to 1978, federal law mandates disclosure concerning lead-based paint. This identifies whether the seller knows about or is unaware of the presence of this type of paint.
2. Water damage
New Jersey does not require home sellers to disclose past flood history or resulting damage to a buyer. This does not apply to water damage from a defect in the house’s structure, such as cracks in the foundation or a faulty drainage system. These are material defects.
3. Tragedy or death
Under state law, a seller does not have to disclose events like a suicide, death or murder. This is not a known defect, as the situation has no physical effect on the property.
4. Unpermitted work
Depending on the extent of remodeling or construction, a permit should exist for the property. If a seller does not disclose the work and there is no permit, there are grounds for legal action.
In spite of legal requirements, sellers have an ethical obligation to release their home in good faith to a buyer. Unfortunately, not all sellers are honest and buyers face disclosure concerns.