If you are selling your home, you may be tempted to employ the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy when it comes to disclosing facts about your property in Arizona. Fortunately for buyers, Arizona law requires the seller to disclose certain, important facts about their property, even if the buyer or their real estate agent do not ask. Failing to disclose certain information about your property can make you vulnerable to civil liability.
Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement (SPDS)- You need this
Unlike a lot of other states. Arizona does not have a specific disclosure form that sellers must fill out and provide to potential buyers. However, the Arizona Association of Realtors offers a form sellers can fill out. It is designed to help sellers satisfy disclosure obligations and protect against alleged nondisclosure. The ‘Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement (SPDS) provides a checklist, asking you to indicate the condition of various features of the property along with any known problems affecting the property.
What you don’t have to disclose
First, let’s look at what you do not have to disclose. Arizona law says sellers do not have to disclose the following information about their property:
1. If it was the site of a natural death, suicide, homicide or any other felony crime
2. If the property was owned or occupied by a person exposed to HIV, or diagnosed as having AIDS or any other disease not known to be transmitted through common occupancy of real estate
3. If the home or property Is located in the vicinity of a sex offender.
Doesn’t mean you can hide things
Just because you don’t have to voluntarily disclose these facts does not mean you can hide them. For example, if a potential buyer asks you whether or not there has been a death on your property, you should answer honestly or say that you are not legally required to answer. Knowingly answering “no” when asked about a death on your property, when you are aware of such a death, is illegal.
What you have to disclose
Other facts a seller must disclose cover several areas of the home:
1. Property and ownership details
2. Roof/structural status or issues
3. Wood infestation issues
4. Heating and cooling problems
6. Swimming pool/spa/hot tub/sauna/water feature
7. Electrical and other related systems
8. Pest problems/treatment
10. Environmental information
11. Sewer/wastewater treatment
Gray Areas: To tell or not to tell
The gray areas of such disclosure agreements crop up when dealing with things that are not on the list but could impact the quality of life on a property. For instance, Diane and her husband live in a secluded, quiet neighborhood with large, palatial ranch homes. At least they did. One of their neighbors recently began renting his house out on Airbnb. Corporations now book the house for retreats that include loud pool parties with large amounts of alcohol consumed. If Diane and her husband were to move, would they be obligated to disclose their Airbnb neighbors to potential buyers? The law states that if the neighbors are a nuisance and materially affecting the property for sale, the neighbors must be disclosed. But what is material or important to one person may not matter to another.
When in doubt, disclose
Diane and her husband are a fun-loving couple whose kids are grown, and they are not bothered by the extra commotion the Airbnb neighbor creates. Another couple with young children may not feel the same way. The corporate parties may prove to be a nuisance to them, in which case they could challenge the seller’s lack of disclosure in a civil action. Realtors say the safest rule of thumb is ,” When in doubt, disclose.”
If you have any questions about disclosures, it is best to consult with your realtor or an attorney. Our team of experienced professionals is well versed in residential and commercial title and escrow services and will gladly answer any other questions you may have about your real estate transaction. Please call us if you would like more information about our services or need assistance. You can call (602)768-2800 or visit ltaz.com .