To disclose or not to disclose?

The Real McCoy
By: Kari McCoy
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Dear Kari: We know about some cracks at our ceiling wall line. Should we paint over them, leave them or disclose them? One time when it rained, water got in that area. Next time it rained there was no water so we left it alone. Answer: Any home has some quirks. When it is time to sell your home, you have a choice of either making the repairs or letting the buyers know what the problems entail. Some buyers will want a structural inspection so that they will have a good idea about what they are getting into. Even if the buyer does not ask for an expert to look at the home, it is still the sellers in responsibility in California, to disclose defects or problems that the owners know about. A concealed problem may come back to haunt you well after the sale of the home. Many lawsuits involve undisclosed known defects, and the settlement of these court cases makes the costs of repair or the price concession during the sale (escrow), look like a real bargain. Note that even if you elect to sell your home without the benefit of a real estate professional, the California disclosure laws still apply. It is a mistake to think that your home will sell more quickly by concealing the little defects. These small items can escalate into major issues that can threaten a sale and possibly result in litigation. Many years ago I remember the Easton Case that brought about the beginning iceberg of the required disclosure laws for the sellers transferring over title to buyers of their property. If something in your home is not working or needs repairing, or replacing, you have the choice to fix it and/or disclose it. Be upfront with you Realtor so she can help you understand what is expected of you (the seller) regarding disclosures. She may offer you a handyman or simply say, “Just disclose this one.” Then you can let the new owner finish that detail. The buyer’s Realtor will help guide him or her through inspections and new ideas relating to owning a home. One of the most important responsibilities of a Realtor involves leading buyers and sellers through the necessary maze of legal forms required for the sale of a home. Your Realtor will spend a great deal of time coordinating all aspects and details that are critical to a smoother (complicated) transition from one owner to the next. For more information, call your local real estate professional. Kari McCoy has been a Realtor for 25 years and owns the Kari McCoy Group, Residential Real Estate, at Coldwell Banker. She can be reached at (916) 941-9540, or at