Monday, June 16, 2014

What is a Truth In Housing Disclosure? And When Should it be Completed?

As a Minnesota REALTOR®, my real estate clients, both buyers and sellers, are sometimes confused by inspections and disclosure requirements in the Twin Cities and surrounding suburbs. Sellers want to know what they should disclose and if they are required to have an inspection done first. While there are a handful of communities in the 7 county Minneapolis/St Paul metro that do require a point of sale home inspection be completed prior to listing a home for sale, most do not. Buyers often wonder if they should be receiving a written disclosure or if the seller will provide an inspection report.
Just the other day I was on the phone with a client who is getting his house ready to put on the market. He was lamenting that he had call the truth in housing (TIH) inspector too early. He was in the middle of several small repair projects when the inspector visited so he received a number of ratings that were below safety standards. The inspector cannot assume a homeowner will actually finish all of the projects in progress. Lesson learned here: Don’t call the inspector until all repairs are complete!
Another first-time selling couple asked about having their home pre-inspected. They live in a community that does not require a point of sale TIH. Their beautiful home was full of many updates and was obviously well maintained. As they filled out their seller’s disclosure, they brought up the subject of a pre-inspection. A friend of theirs had recently sold a home and had done this. When the offers came in, the buyers on their friends’ home opted to forego the inspection, choosing to just read the report. My clients were wondering if this was a common practice and if a pre-inspection was recommended and/or required.
In Minnesota, there is no Truth-In-Housing inspection requirement to sell your home at the state or county level. There are however a number of communities in the Twin Cities that do require a pre-inspection report. These go by many names: Truth-in-Sale of Housing Disclosure, Time-of Sale, Time-of-Sale Code Compliance, Dwelling Maintenance and Occupancy Code Compliance, Housing Code Compliance Inspection or Housing Maintenance Code Inspection. Some of these inspections are done by inspectors that are city employees while other communities have licensed private inspectors to perform the inspection of the home. But in many cases, will be up to the home owner select a contractor to perform the inspection prior to listing the home for sale. It is very important to contact the city to make sure the proper procedure is followed when selling a home to avoid fines.

Private Inspectors (Selected by Homeowner)
City Inspectors
Can I still have my home pre-inspected if my community does not have a truth-in-sale requirement?

Absolutely! Having you property pre-inspected and an inspection report available to potential buyers can speed up the home selling process. Some buyers will choose to review the report and not have another inspection completed making the offer not-contingent on an inspection. Other buyers will choose to have the inspector who did the pre-inspection come out to the home to explain the details in the report. This is often completed for a reduced fee to the buyer since the work has been completed and it is not as time consuming to the inspector. However a pre-inspection does not guarantee that the buyer will not opt to hire their own independent inspector to give what they will believe to be an “unbiased” assessment.

If I give an Inspection or Truth-In-Housing Report, do I have to complete a seller's disclosure?

If you have lived in the home, I would recommend that you complete the disclosure to the best of your knowledge. A seller must disclose any material facts that you know about the home. However, in the case of an estate, flipped home or rental property where the owner has not lived in the home for some time if ever, the owner will have limited information regarding the property. In this case, an inspector's report can be offered in lieu of the completed disclosure to meet the state disclosure requirement. A buyer may also agree to waive their right to the required seller’s disclosure. In either of these cases, this will not exempt a seller from any local or federal statutes (i.e. water well disclosure and lead based paint are examples).

What if it is a bank owned home? Does the bank have to provide a seller’s disclosure on a foreclosure?

Minnesota state law does not have different rules for a bank or other financial entity. They must disclose material facts on a seller’s disclosure, offer an inspection in lieu of foreclosure or have the buyer agree to waive their rights to a disclosure.

More Disclosure Questions?If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me, Teri Eckholm of Boardman Realty, a call or visit my website for a FREE Home Buyer Success Guide or FREE Home Value Report. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

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