Buying or selling a home is a significant transaction. A home is where a person lives and raises their family, so buyers naturally want as much information as possible before committing to what is likely the largest single transaction of their life.
Seller disclosure obligations
Unlike many states, Georgia does not require sellers to complete a standard written seller disclosure form. But Georgia does require home sellers to inform buyers about any known material defects with the home.
A material defect essentially means a defect that a buyer would consider important. This includes issues with a system or component of the home, such as the electrical system, plumbing or a major appliance. A material defect also includes issues that would have a significant adverse effect on the value of the home or pose an unreasonable risk to people, such as the presence lead paint.
An exception exists if the defect would be obvious to a buyer upon reasonable inspection.
For example, a seller would not need to affirmatively disclose a large crack in a home’s stucco that is clearly visible to anyone looking at the house. The buyer should already be aware of the defect by looking at the house.
While Georgia law does not specify any particular method of disclosure of material defects, it is always a good idea to make any required disclosures in writing so that there is a clear record of what the seller disclosed.
Answer questions honestly
In addition to disclosing material defects, a seller is also obligated to honestly answer, to the best of their ability, any questions from a buyer. Even if the question is something a buyer would not need to affirmatively disclose, the seller must still answer questions about the property honestly.
Compliance with disclosure requirements allows buyers to make informed decisions and protects against seller liability. Home buyers and sellers should consult a knowledgeable attorney regarding any issues about real estate disclosures.