What property defects are home sellers required to disclose?

This article looks at what property defects home sellers are and are not required to disclose in New Mexico.

The last thing somebody wants to learn after they have bought a new home is that the faucets don't work or that the roof is leaking. Almost every state has laws requiring sellers to disclose known defects of their property to potential buyers. In New Mexico, these disclosure obligations are laid out in the Real Estate Disclosure Act. Furthermore, there are some federal laws that also carry important disclosure requirements for sellers. Both sellers and buyers should be aware of what both these state and federal disclosure obligations are in order to better protect themselves.

What sellers are required to disclose

When selling a property in New Mexico, it is necessary to inform potential buyers about any serious material defects with the property that the seller is aware of. A material defect may include items like faulty plumbing, a leaky roof, mold, or smoke damage. It is necessary that these defects be made known to the buyer before a purchase contract is signed.

New Mexico law also contains a number of disclosure requirements related to the buyer's future tax obligations. For example, sellers are required to provide buyers with an estimate of the property tax levy on the house. That estimate can be obtained from the county assessor.

In addition to damage to the house and tax obligations, sellers must also disclose any legal problems with the property. For example, sellers must inform buyers if there are any outstanding liens on the property or easements.

In some cases, federal law may also obligate the seller to disclose potential defects with the property. As Realtor.com points out, federal law requires potential buyers be made aware if the house for sale was built before 1978 and contains lead paint.

What doesn't need to be disclosed

While there are certainly many items that do need to be disclosed to buyers, there are others that do not need to be. For example, sellers have no duty to disclose whether or not a property was the site of a homicide, suicide, assault, sexual assault, or any other felony. Of course, such crimes may appear in news reports and, if asked, sellers should still be honest with buyers about them. Likewise, the law specifically states that sellers are under no obligation to disclose whether or not the property was ever occupied by someone infected with HIV.

Talking to a real estate attorney

Buying or selling a home is a major transaction, which is why no part of it should ever be left to chance. Anybody who is involved with buying or selling a home or who is otherwise involved in litigation related to a real estate transaction should get in touch with a real estate attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can help clients ensure their transaction goes smoothly and that all loose ends are taken care of.

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