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Too Bad We Need MORE LAWS To Enforce Honesty In Real Estate Sales!!

House for sale whimsical graphicOn March 1, 2002, New York joined some 30 other states by enacting the "Property Condition Disclosure Act".  Simply put, most home sellers are now required to fill out a detailed form which lists visible and/or hidden defects or conditions of which the owner has knowledge.

Failure to supply this completed form to the prospective buyer leaves the seller liable for a fine.  Lying or misrepresenting problems with the house can be grounds for legal action by the buyer.  Unlike the "good old days" when the closing usually meant all responsibility transferred from seller to buyer, now the seller can be legally held to account for undisclosed problems with the home that may arise even years later.

Having been witness to many real estate transactions fraught with misrepresentations or concealed defects, I hope that all buyers will demand this sort of documentation from the seller, even if your state does not have such a law.  Without this information it is virtually impossible for a home buyer to have enough information to make an educated purchase.

Even with the best of intentions, the seller can't be expected to know everything about their home. A professional home inspection is still very important part of a housing purchase.  A trained  inspector knows the ins-and-outs of a home and will notice things that are rarely detected by the "amateur" home buyer.

Most people may make one or two housing purchases in their lifetimes, yet it often the largest and most important purchase they will ever make!  The more information they have, the better!!

Go, New York!!

NH


SAMPLE NEW YORK STATE PROPERTY CONDITION DISCLOSURE FORM

(Please note that the form below has been slightly modified for the Web and is not the "official" form.  It is for illustrative and educational purposes only.  It may also be out-of-date.  If you need a copy of the most current form, please visit the NY Department of State Division of Licensing Services online at http://www.dos.state.ny.us/lcns/licensing.html )

General Instructions:

The Property Condition Disclosure Act requires the seller of residential real property to cause this disclosure statement or a copy t hereof to be delivered to a buyer or buyer's agent prior to the signing by the buyer of a binding contract of sale.

Purpose of Statement:

This is a statement of certain conditions and information concerning the property known to the seller. This Disclosure Statement is not a warranty of any kind by the seller or by any agent representing the seller in this transaction. It is not a substitute for any inspections or tests and the buyer is encouraged to obtain his or her own independent professional inspections and environmental tests and also is encouraged to check public records pertaining to the property.

A knowingly false or incomplete statement by the seller on this form may subject the seller to claims by the buyer prior to or after the transfer of title. In the event a seller fails to perform the duty prescribed in this article to deliver a Disclosure Statement prior to t he signing by the buyer of a binding contract of sale, the buyer shall receive upon the transfer of title a credit of $500 against the agreed upon purchase price of the residential real property.

“ Residential real property” means real property improved by a one to four family dwelling used or occupied, or intended to be used or occupied, wholly or partly, as the home or residence of one or more persons, but shall not refer to (a) unimproved real property upon which such dwellings are to be constructed or (b) condominium units or cooperative apartments or (c) property on a homeowners' association that is not owned in fee simple by the seller.

Instructions to the Seller:

a. Answer all questions based upon your actual knowledge. b. Attach additional pages with your signature if additional space is required. c. Complete this form yourself. d. If some items do not apply to your property, check “ NA” (Non- applicable). If you do not know the answer check

“ Unkn” (Unknown).

Seller's Statement:

T he seller makes the following representations to the buyer based upon the seller's actual knowledge at the time of signing this document. The seller authorizes his or her agent, if any, to provide a copy of this statement to a prospective buyer of the residential real property. The following are representations made by the seller and are not the representations of the seller's agent.

GENERAL INFORMATION

1. How long have you owned the property? .................................
 2. How long have you occupied the property? ................................ 
3. What is the age of the structure or structures? ..............................

Note to buyer – If the structure was built before 1978 you are encouraged to investigate for the presence of lead based paint.. .....................................

4. Does anybody other than yourself have a lease, easement or any other right to use or occupy any part of your property other than those stated in documents available in the public record, such as rights to use a road or path or cut trees or crops? ..........................  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

5. Does anybody else claim to own any part of your property? If Yes, explain below .......  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

6. Has anyone denied you access to the property or made a formal legal claim challenging your title to the property? If Yes, explain below ................................  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

7. Are t here any features of the property shared in common with adjoining landowners or a homeowner' s association, such as wall s, fences or driveways? If Yes, describe below ....  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

8. Are there any electric or gas utility surcharges for line extensions, special assessments or homeowner or other association fees that apply to the property? If Yes, explain below ....  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

9. Are there certificates of occupancy related to the property? If No, explain below ........  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

ENVIRONMENTAL

Note to Seller:

In this section, you will be asked questions regarding petroleum products and hazardous or toxic substances that you know to have been spilled, leaked or otherwise been released on the property or from the property onto any other property. Petroleum products may include, but are not limited to, gasoline, diesel fuel, home heating fuel, and lubricants. Hazardous or toxic substances are products that could pose short or long- term danger to personal health or the environment if they are not properly disposed of, applied or stored. These include, but are not limited to, fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides , paint including paint thinner, varnish remover and wood preservatives, treated wood, construction materials such as asphalt and roofing materials, antifreeze and other automotive products, batteries, cleaning solvents including septic  tank cleaners, household cleaners and pool chemicals and products containing mercury and lead.

Note to Buyer:

If contamination of this property from petroleum products and/ or hazardous or toxic substances is a concern to you, you are urged to consider soil and groundwater testing of this property.

10. Is any or all of the property located in a designated floodplain? If Yes, explain below ....  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

11. Is any or all of the property located in a designated wetland? If Yes, explain below ......  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

12. Is the property located in an agricultural district? If Yes, explain below .............  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

13. Was the property ever the site of a landfill? If Yes, explain below .................  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

14. Are there or have there ever been fuel storage tanks above or below the ground on the property? ............................................................. 
• If Yes, are they currently in use? ....................................

• Location( s) • Are they leaking or have they ever leaked? If Yes, explain below ...............

15. Is there asbestos in the structure? If Yes, state location or locations below ........... 
 Yes  No  Unkn  NA

16. Is lead plumbing present? If Yes, state location or locations below ................ 
 Yes  No  Unkn  NA

17. Has a radon test been done? If Yes, attach a copy of the report ...................
  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

18. Has motor fuel, motor oil, home heating fuel, lubricating oil or any other petroleum product, methane gas, or any hazardous or toxic substance spilled, leaked or otherwise been released on the property or from the property onto any other property? If Yes, describe below ...... 
 Yes  No  Unkn  NA

19. Has the property been tested for the presence of motor fuel, motor oil, home heating fuel, lubricating oil, or any other petroleum product, methane gas, or any hazardous or toxic substance? If Yes, attach report( s) .....................................  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

STRUCTURAL

20. Is there any rot or water damage to the structure or structures? 
If Yes, explain below .....  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

21. Is there any fire or smoke damage to the structure or structures? 
If Yes, explain below ....  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

22. Is there any termite, insect, rodent or pest infestation or damage? 
If Yes, explain below ...  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

23. Has the property been tested for termite, insect, rodent or pest infestation or damage? ....

If Yes, please attach report( s)  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

24. What is the type of roof/ roof covering (slate, asphalt, other)? .................... 
• Any known material defects? ....................................... 
• How old is the roof? ............................................
• Is there a transferable warrantee on the roof in effect now? 
If Yes, explain below ......  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

25. Are there any know material defects in any of the following structural systems: footings, beams, girders, lintels, columns or partitions? If Yes, explain below .................... 
 Yes  No  Unkn  NA

MECHANICAL SYSTEMS AND SERVICES

26. What is the water source? (Circle all that apply) ............................ 
well, private, municipal, other: 
• If municipal, is it metered? ........................................  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

27. Has the water quality and/ or flow rate been tested? 
If Yes, describe below ............  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

28. What is the type of sewage system? 
(Circle all that apply) ...................... public sewer, private sewer, septic, cesspool 
• If septic or cesspool, age? ........................................ 
• Date last pumped?.............................................. 
• Frequency of pumping? .......................................... 
• Any known material defects? 
If Yes, explain below ........................  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

29. Who is your electrical service provider? .................................. 
• What is the amperage? .......................................... 
• Does it have circuit breakers or fuses? ................................ 
• Private or public poles? .......................................... 
• Any known material defects? 
If yes, explain below ........................  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

30. Are there any flooding, drainage or grading problems that resulted in standing water on any portion of the property?
 If Yes, state locations and explain below .................  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

31. Does the basement have seepage that results in standing water? If Yes, explain below ....  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

Are there any known material defects in any of the following?
 If Yes, explain below. Use additional sheets if necessary ...................................................

32. Plumbing system? ................................................  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

33. Security system? ..................................................  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

34. Carbon monoxide detector? .........................................  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

35. Smoke detector? .................................................  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

36. Fire sprinkler system? .............................................  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

37. Sump pump? ...................................................  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

38. Foundation/ slab? .................................................  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

39. Interior walls/ ceilings? .............................................  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

40. Exterior walls or siding? ............................................  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

41. Floors? .......................................................  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

42. Chimney/ fireplace or stove? ..........................................  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

43. Patio/ deck?.....................................................  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

44. Driveway? .....................................................  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

45. Air conditioner? .................................................  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

46. Heating system? .................................................  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

47. Hot water heater?.................................................  Yes  No  Unkn  NA

48. The property is located in the following school district  Unkn

Note: Buyer is encouraged to check public records concerning the property (e. g. tax records and wetland and floodplain maps).

The seller should use this area to further explain any item above. If necessary, attach additional pages and indicate here the number of additional pages attached.

Seller's Certification:

Seller certifies that the information in this Property Condition Disclosure Statement is true and complete to the seller's actual knowledge as of t he date signed by the seller. If a seller of residential real property acquires knowledge which renders materially inaccurate a Property Condition Disclosure Statement provided previously, the seller shall deliver a revised Property Condition Disclosure Statement to the buyer as soon as practicable. In no event, however, shall a seller be required to provide a revised Property Condition Disclosure Statement after the transfer of title from the seller to the buyer or occupancy by the buyer, whichever is earlier.

Seller's Signature

X Date Seller's Signature  ................................................

X Date Buyer's Acknowledgment   ...................................

Buyer acknowledges receipt of a copy of this statement and buyer understands that t hi s information is a statement of certain conditions and information concerning the property known to the seller. It is not a warranty of any kind by the seller or seller's agent and is not a substitute for any home, pest, radon or other inspections or testing of the property or inspection of the public records.

Buyer's Signature

X           Date

Buyer's Signature

X           Date

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