Washington law says that when you sell your home, you must fill out a Seller Disclosure Statement (also known as Form 17). You must tell the buyer any problems with the property that you know about.
Do I have to do a disclosure statement when I sell my home?
Probably. Almost every real estate seller in Washington state has to fill out a Seller Disclosure Statement, but there are some exceptions. If you fall into one of these categories, then you don’t have to do it. The exemptions listed below can be found in RCW 64.06.010:
- If the transfer is a foreclosure or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, meaning that the transfer is from the borrower to the borrower’s lender. This exemption doesn’t apply when you buy a foreclosure property from a bank, or sell a property that you bought at a foreclosure auction.
- Gift or transfer between family members, such as a parent, child, spouse, domestic partner, etc.
- Transfers between spouses and domestic partners in connection with a divorce or dissolution
- Transfers where the buyer had an ownership interest in the property in the past two years
- Transfers that are less than fee simple and don’t include full ownership rights in the property (such as a life estate or lease)
- Transfers made by the personal representative of an estate or a bankruptcy trustee
- When the buyer has waived the right to receive the Seller Disclosure Statement
What do I have to disclose?
You have to disclose any material facts that you are aware of that affect the property. A material fact is something that affects the title (ownership) of the property or the physical condition. Some common examples include:
- Leaky roof
- Electrical issues
- Problems with the septic system
Generally you don’t need to disclose things that are not material facts, such as:
- Whether a death, murder, or suicide occurred in the house
- Political or religious activity
- Whether there are sex offenders nearby
You also aren’t liable for things that you don’t have actual knowledge of.
Tips for filling out the disclosure statement
- The “Don’t know” box is your friend! If you’re not sure about an answer, it’s better to be honest about that then to make a bad guess.
- Be honest. Don’t downplay problems.
- Imagine that you are buying the property, and ask which things you would want to know about. When in doubt, disclose it.
- Attach explanations. You can attach additional pages to the Seller Disclosure Statement. These can be explanations of a particular issue, details of how it was repaired, or even a copy of a repair invoice.
- When in doubt, disclose it! This is the safest choice.
When do I have to give a Seller Disclosure Statement to the buyer?
RCW 64.06.030 says that the seller must deliver the Seller Disclosure Statement within five business days of mutual acceptance of a purchase and sale agreement. The buyer has three days from when they receive the disclosures to either cancel the purchase and sale agreement or accept the disclosures.
If the buyer doesn’t respond within three days of delivery of the Seller Disclosure Statement, then the buyer has “accepted” it.
What if I don’t give a Seller Disclosure Statement?
If you fail to deliver a Seller Disclosure Statement, and you don’t meet one of the exemptions listed above, then the buyer has a right of rescission that lasts until three days after closing! This means that even if the sale has closed and recorded and the buyer has taken possession of the property, the buyer can unwind or cancel the sale within three days.
Be sure to deliver a Seller Disclosure Statement so that you don’t face any unexpected surprises!
This is not legal advice
Please note that this general information is provided for educational purposes, and is not legal advice. Everyone’s situation is different. If you need legal advice, please contact a real estate attorney.