One of the main concerns for someone buying property is the condition of the property and any relevant information about that property. Seller’s disclosures exist to inform the buyer of issues that have been addressed, such as treatment for termites or previous flooding, and issues that may need to be addressed, such as roof replacement. Additionally, the disclosure requires that the seller inform the buyer about any work completed without necessary permits and insurance payments that have not been used to repair the improvement. This disclosure often provides peace of mind for a buyer, However, according to the Texas Property Code, while most sellers must complete a Seller’s Disclosure Form, not all sellers are required to do so.
Requirements of a Seller’s Disclosure
According to Section 5.008 of the Texas Property Code, most sellers should provide a written disclosure:
(a) A seller of residential real property comprising not more than one dwelling unit located in this state shall give to the purchaser of the property a written notice as prescribed by this section or a written notice substantially similar to the notice prescribed by this section which contains, at a minimum, all of the items in the notice prescribed by this section.
Tex. Prop. Code Ann. § 5.008 (West)
According to this description, most people selling residential property are obligated to complete a seller’s disclosure form as part of the process of selling their house.
Exemptions from Disclosure
Importantly, Section 5.008 goes on to identify those who are not required to complete a Seller’s Disclosure:
(e) This section does not apply to a transfer:
(1) pursuant to a court order or foreclosure sale;
(2) by a trustee in bankruptcy;
(3) to a mortgagee by a mortgagor or successor in interest, or to a beneficiary of a deed of trust by a trustor or successor in interest;
(4) by a mortgagee or a beneficiary under a deed of trust who has acquired the real property at a sale conducted pursuant to a power of sale under a deed of trust or a sale pursuant to a court ordered foreclosure or has acquired the real property by a deed in lieu of foreclosure;
(5) by a fiduciary in the course of the administration of a decedent's estate, guardianship, conservatorship, or trust;
(6) from one co-owner to one or more other co-owners;
(7) made to a spouse or to a person or persons in the lineal line of consanguinity of one or more of the transferors;
(8) between spouses resulting from a decree of dissolution of marriage or a decree of legal separation or from a property settlement agreement incidental to such a decree;
(9) to or from any governmental entity;
(10) of a new residence of not more than one dwelling unit which has not previously been occupied for residential purposes; or
(11) of real property where the value of any dwelling does not exceed five percent of the value of the property.
Tex. Prop. Code Ann. § 5.008 (West)
Buyers should note that, according to number five on this list, a fiduciary, who is an executor or administrator of an estate, is exempt from providing a seller’s disclosure. If the property is being sold by the executor of an estate, a seller’s disclosure is not required. However, heirs at law and beneficiaries are not included in the list of exemptions and must therefore complete a seller’s disclosure.
Whether buying or selling, real estate law can be complex and confusing. Working with an experienced real estate attorney helps to pave the way for a smooth transaction with no costly surprises before, during, or after closing.
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