Real estate has proven to be a lack-luster market, to say the least, for the past several years. With many homeowners underwater with their mortgage, or those faced with the need to sell their home in these difficult times, it’s easy to understand why people prefer to try to sell their home themselves rather than pay a real estate professional’s commission.
Real estate professionals must take a vigorous course of study and pass exams in both real estate sales and real estate law to earn a license to practice real estate in Maryland. Real estate professionals do more than ‘just show houses,’ as some people think, to earn a commission.
That being said, people who choose to go the ‘for sale by owner’ or FSBO route, often don’t know the rules and regulations required by state law when they try to sell their home themselves.
One common mistake among many sellers is the requirement that all sellers must complete and sign a property dislosure or disclaimer form, as well as a lead-based paint disclosure form.
Simply stated, the disclosure form discloses things the seller knows about the property, such as age of the roof, type of heating/cooling system, problems with water in the basement, plumbing, leaks, etc. Sellers can choose to sign a disclaimer form instead of a disclosure indicating they know ‘nothing’ about the property.
The lead-base paint form addresses Maryland law involving properties built before 1978. Again, simply stated, the requirement informs the public that homes built before 1978 may contain lead-based paint, which is considered a potential health risk.
This kind of information is what real estate practioners learn as part of their professional education, and thus is not part of a person’s ‘general knowledge.’ Failure to provide these completed documents to potential buyers could cause headaches for sellers down the road should a problem arise once the property has been sold.
While saving money by not having to pay a real estate commission is enticing, consider the cost of legal fees that might arise as a result of failing to know what is legally required as part of a real estate transaction.
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