There are laws, both local and state, that require certain disclosures to buyers when you sell your home. You might need to have inspections done or write down disclosures beforehand to ensure transparency, depending on your location.
Massachusetts, however, has no law that requires sellers to give a disclosure statement to potential buyers. The state follows “caveat emptor,” which means let the buyer beware. This puts the responsibility of risk on the buyer at the time of purchase. The buyer will need to carry out due inspection and get the correct information from the seller before they go ahead with the transaction.
Real Estate Disclosures in Massachusetts
Massachusetts is a “caveat emptor” state – or a “buyer beware” state. Buyers have to ask the right questions and inspect the property they want to purchase.
Legally, sellers in Massachusetts don’t have much information to reveal to sellers. However, two things do need to get disclosed.
Two Obligatory Disclosures for Sellers in Massachusetts
According to Massachusetts law, there are two crucial disclosures that sellers need to provide a buyer.
Before the transaction gets finalized, the seller needs to disclose to the buyer if the property has a septic tank system or lead paint. Besides this, a buyer can, at their discretion, enquire about the property after inspection.
Here’s more information regarding the two necessary disclosures sellers need to make:
Lead Paint Disclosure
If your home got built before 1978, you are required to make a lead paint disclosure. This certificate notifies the buyer about the dangers of lead paint and its effects and how to avoid them. Sellers will also need to disclose everything they know regarding the use of lead paint on their property.
Massachusetts law requires the seller to get the Property Transfer Notification Certification completed before a purchase agreement gets entered into with a buyer. Along with their estate agents, the buyer and seller need to sign the document. Buyers will get notified within ten days of receiving it to go ahead with an independent risk assessment.
The seller must disclose to the buyer if there’s lead in the plaster, paint, or any other structural materials on the property. It’s also recommended to include the dangers it can have on adults and children and the steps to prevent lead poisoning.
According to the Lead Law, the buyer needs to know that if they have any children under six years old who live on the property, they’ll need to delead the property or get the property under Interim Control within 90 days of purchasing it. Along with any compliance letters, the seller needs to give the seller an inspection and risk assessment report.
The seller must first sign the notification, followed by the buyer. If you are using the service of a real estate agent, they will need to sign the notification, too. If the seller fails to comply, they can get fined up to $1,000, including paying any other damages to the buyer.
Septic System Disclosure
The other disclosure that sellers need to be aware of in Massachusetts is the disclosure of the existence of a septic system on the property. There are guidelines for this process in Title 5 of the Massachusetts State Environmental Code.
According to the code, within two years of a house getting sold, any septic system must get inspected. Should weather conditions be an issue, the inspection can get carried out within six months of the sale. An example of unfavorable weather conditions is when there is frozen ground around the septic tank.
An approved inspector will carry out the inspection, with the results getting shared with the buyer and the local board of health. There’s no indication of who pays for the inspection, but the seller is usually the one to carry the cost.
If the title change is between family members, such as from parent to child or between spouses, you can avoid the inspection for residential purposes.
It can get costly repairing septic systems. Massachusetts law doesn’t require homeowners to bring their septic system in compliance before they go ahead with the sale. Sellers are also not liable for any penalties, unlike with the lead paint stipulation.
It’s up to the buyer to enquire about specific details regarding the property. A seller can, at their own discretion, provide information to the buyer without them requesting anything.
If a buyer does inquire, the seller is required by law to provide factual information and not conceal anything significant from the buyer.
Sellers aren’t legally bound to tell a buyer if their property is “psychologically impacted.” A psychologically impacted property means:
- The property was the location of homicide, felony, or suicide
- The property is allegedly haunted
However, if the prospective buyer inquires about this, you will need to disclose the information.
Get Help and Guidance From a Licensed Real Estate Agent
Because it’s up to the seller’s discretion if they want to disclose any information to the buyer, it does help to have a licensed real estate agent help guide the seller. Real estate agents know state laws and can also help with negotiations, ensuring you get the right asking price for your home.
You can contact us via call or text at 781-309-7085 or get in touch with us via e-mail.