After you decide on the perfect agent to list your home, it can be a bit overwhelming the amount of disclosure documents a seller will receive and have to fill out. Not only is it important to have an agent who will make sure that all disclosures are filled out properly and completed before your home goes on the market, but it is also important to have an agent who understands why a TDS (Transfer Disclosure Statement) and a SPQ (Seller Property Question Questionnaire) is important, out of the many more disclosures, in the sale of their clients home. A seller must fill out these disclosures in their own handwriting, an agent can be there for guidance while their seller fills them out, but an agent can not fill them out for a seller.
The TDS describes the condition of a property and, in the case of a sale, must be given to a prospective buyer as soon as practicable and before transfer of title.
SPQ is a form that is not a substitute for the Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement (TDS). It is used by the Seller to provide additional information when a TDS is completed or when no TDS is required.
Tips for how to complete the TDS and SPQ:
- Do not leave any questions blank; explain any "yes" answers thoroughly and completely in the blank lines or in an addendum attached to the disclosure documents.
- Your answers should provide facts responsive to each question; try and avoid opinions that suggest or indicate that a condition/issue is not significant, important, severe, etc. The use of words like "minor," "insignificant," "small," "minimal," etc., may reflect what you believe, but they may constitute an opinion that you are not qualified to provide or may downplay or diminish the significance of conditions/issues. This is a decision and a conclusion that should be reached by the buyer. Common examples of this relate to descriptions of cracks in the interior and exterior, leaks, water intrusion, etc.
- What you have learned to live with or accept in terms of noise, odors, the functionality of an appliance or other system or component, etc. may not be something a buyer would expect or consider acceptable; it is always better to disclose such issues and let the buyer decide whether they are willing to accept and live with them.
- A good practice is to not let your subjective opinions, beliefs, or tolerance of a condition cause you to downplay or fail to disclose the existence of some historical problem with some component of your home.
- Disclose any past defect or condition/issue with the property even if you believe it has been repaired and has not recurred. If the condition/issue has recurred, it is a good practice to identify when and how it recurred, why (without speculating) it recurred, if it has been repaired, who did the repair work, what was done, what work was done with or without permits, how much was spent on the repair, and whether the condition/issue has continued to exist after repairs were made. Attach any documentation supporting the foregoing.
- If there is conflicting information or reports, disclose and identify all such conflicting information and reports.
If any disclosure that is made becomes inaccurate or changes over time, the seller should update and correct their disclosure documents in a timely fashion. When in doubt, it is always best to disclose. If you need help regarding what to disclose and how to disclose it, it is best to consult with a qualified California real estate attorney.
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