California Home Buyers Get More Protection
Most states require real estate sellers to disclose any information they have about potential or existing problems that a property may have. These include leaks, structural defects, environmental toxins, and natural hazards like flooding if it is available. However, California requires more from sellers.
California has always required under Civil Code Section 1102.6 that prospective buyers are given a Transfer Disclosure Statement, which is a three-page form that a seller has to fill out completely and accurately. It is not a warranty but a statement of fact regarding the current condition of the property. If problems arise later on because of a disclosed condition, the seller will avoid getting sued. However, if the seller knew about the condition but failed to disclose it, he or she could be liable for the damages.
In addition, California law under Civil Code 1002.6c requires the seller to obtain a separate Standardized Natural Disclosure Statement to be given to a prospective buyer. A Natural Hazard Disclosure is not concerned with the condition of the house, but with the potential of the location of the property for natural hazards, specifically flood, fire, and earthquake.
The Statement includes a checklist that a seller fills out based on information from government-provided maps. They cannot speculate or base it on their personal experience, especially given that certain areas of California has been the site for many natural disasters in the last two decades.
The information that a seller must obtain comes from the:
- Federal Emergency Management Agency
- Office of Emergency Services
- California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
- State Board of Forestry
- California Geological Survey
If you are a seller, you would like to check yes to as few of these hazards as possible, but government information may not be specific enough to determine if your property is indeed in a hazardous area. You can solve this easily by hiring professionals to certify this for you, as well as supply you with other disclosure reports for a minimal fee and available within a few minutes.