Florida's Home Sellers Disclosures Protect Potential Buyers

by Amy S. Reinholdt, LLC 09/20/2020


 Photo by Arek Socha via Pixabay

There’s an old phrase that says “buyer beware.” While, to some extent, this holds true in real estate, the good news for buyers is there are a number of protections in place which are regulated by federal law. States can opt to add their own requirements.

Florida has exercised its right to enact several seller disclosure obligations into law. These protections are put into place to shield home buyers from fraud, property defects or other problems. In the Sunshine State, here are the primary disclosures home sellers are legally required to share with potential buyers.

Material facts

All sellers are required to disclose what the State of Florida defines as “material facts.” This means they must inform a buyer about any facts not readily observable details about the property that might impact property value, health or safety. Examples include:

  • Faulty wiring
  • Cracked foundation
  • History of termites, carpenter ants or other wood-destroying organisms
  • Past or present instances of water damage
  • Leaky plumbing
  • Problems with the HVAC system
  • A leaky roof or related defects
  • Environmental hazards, including mold, asbestos, lead or Chinese drywall
  • Some types of home insulation
  • Boundary disputes
  • Problems associated with the title of the home or property
  • To summarize, a “material fact” is an existing condition that may have impacted a buyer’s decision to purchase, particularly those associated with major components of the home. This disclosure also applies to sellers listing their homes as “AS IS.”

    It should be noted if any deaths, including homicide or suicide, occurred on the property, these are not considered to be material facts.

    Code enforcement action

    In the event a home has a pending code enforcement action against it, sellers are required to disclose this situation to potential buyers in writing. They must also provide the buyer with copies of all pleadings, notices and any other documents relating to the situation. This includes verbiage outlining the buyer assumes responsibility for any compliance remedies associated with the outcome if they purchase the property.

    Radon gas

    Sellers are required to provide a buyer before or during the execution of a purchase contract (or rental agreement lasting more than 45 days) information relating to the presence of radon gas. This requirement excludes unimproved properties, such as vacant land.

    Other disclosures sellers must make include:

  • Summary of property tax
  • Any condominium or condominium association rules connected to the property
  • History of or current presence of a sinkhole
  • Presence of endangered species
  • It’s also important to understand sellers only are required to disclose any defects they’re aware of. Florida State Law stipulates sellers aren’t held responsible for any defects they didn’t know or “should have known” about. If a dispute arises, the buyer is responsible for proving a seller did know about the defect.

    About the Author
    Author

    Amy S. Reinholdt, LLC

    Hi, I'm Amy Reinholdt and I'd love to assist you. Whether you're in the research phase at the beginning of your real estate search or you know exactly what you're looking for, you'll benefit from having a real estate professional by your side. I'd be honored to put my real estate experience to work for you.