Mid Silicon Valley Homeowner asks: Do I have to disclose that?

Vicki Moore
Published on January 20, 2017

Mid Silicon Valley Homeowner asks: Do I have to disclose that?


What Mid Silicon Valley home sellers have to disclose is always a topic of conversation between realtors.  The answer is yes to everything.  But it’s still an interesting topic because it’s a big concern to you as a seller – and so it is to realtors too.

If you have had a lot of issues with the house or have owned it for a long time, there’s more to disclose or you may be concerned about forgetting something.  The disclosure documents you’re going to fill out are designed for two things:  to jog your memory and to prove fraud later if there’s a lawsuit.

Mid Silicon Valley Homeowners Should Disclose everything

If you ask, “Do I have to disclose that?”  The answer is always yes.  Always.  Always.  It may affect the price you get for the property, but it’s better than the alternative of not disclosing and getting sued later. Buyers sue. In a hot Mid Silicon Valley market there are even more lawsuits because home buyers get buyers’ remorse and want out of the purchase.

If they find out about something you should have but didn’t disclose before you close, they may back out and not purchase the house.

If they find out after close, they’re going to sue. You’re really better off telling everything you know/remember.  Let the buyer decide how much it affects the price.  It will cost you a hell of a lot more later if you don’t.  In fact, one of the documents has blank lines to fill in anything that wasn’t asked or you want to elaborate on.

Believe it or not, disclosing will make you sleep better

You won’t have to worry that you’re going to get caught!

What to disclose in the sale of your Mid Silicon Valley home

Besides the general “everything,” you’ll want to disclose the little things and the big things.

Don’t decide for the buyer what is “big” or what’s “little.” The law is phrased something like:  anything that would significantly affect the value or desirability of the property.  What is significant or not to someone else?

The best position is to tell them everything.


Real Estate Transfer Disclosure

This document is two pages of check boxes asking what the house includes, what works and what doesn’t and what problems you have had with anything.  Really, anything. “Are you aware of significant defects/malfunctions?”

The form asks if there are any toxic chemicals on the property.  Well, if the property was built before 1978, you betcha.  Prior to ’78 lead-based paint was used.  Popcorn ceilings could be asbestos.  Some tiles that look like linoleum  – if they’re old enough – might be made with asbestos (sometimes in Linda Mar homes) .

Additions, modifications, alterations in Mid Silicon Valley homes

Additions, modifications, alterations made without permits or not in compliance with building codes?  In Mid Silicon Valley, it would be unusual if a house hadn’t had some kind of work done without permits.

Do you know what requires a permit?  No? List everything. Water issues like leaks, flooding, drainage or grading problems.  Do you have a sump pump?  You’ve got to disclose drainage issues.  The longer a water problem is ignored, the worse the damage will be, which is fine.  Just be sure disclose it.

Why water damage is so insidious

I sold a house in Edgemar that was in a flood zone.  The neighborhood flooded just about every rainy season.  In this particular house, the water never came up to the floor and into the house.  It stayed in the crawl space so the owner didn’t think it was a problem.

When wood gets wet and dry repeatedly, it will get dry rot.  If the crawl space isn’t properly vented, not only are you going to get dry rot, you’re going to have beetles and/or termites. That house had thousands of dollars worth of damage in an inconvenient place for fixing it.  Inconvenient means expensive.  Don’t ignore water intrusion.

Mid Silicon Valley neighborhood noise problems or other nuisances

That’s super general.  Yesterday, the attorney giving us our legal update told us about a seller who did not disclose the sex offender that lived next door because he was gone.  Well, he was gone because he was in jail.  When he got out of jail, he came home. Can you say lawsuit?

Neighborhood noise problems could be barking dogs, the people down the street that play music loud..a nuisance could be that the raccoons get into the garbage and make a mess.

Tell as much as you can.

Supplemental Seller’s Checklist

Supplemental seller’s checklist is another standard disclosure for Mid Silicon Valley sellers and all other neighborhoods in Mid Silicon Valley.  It’s a doozy.  Nine pages of questions.

When I started real estate in ’98, it was four pages. It asks you about the house, top to bottom – even asks if you know anything about the house before you owned it.

Roof questions, electrical, what phone/internet carrier you use, security systems, water, sewer…animals.  The form asks if you’re aware of animals in the neighborhood.  Well, if you live in upper San Mateo, San Carlos, or Hillsborough like this homeowner, you’d better disclose those mountain lions.

Natural Hazards

What?  You’re wondering how in the heck you’re supposed to know about natural hazards?  As a Mid Silicon Valley homeowner, you are required to provide – and pay for – a disclosure that tells the buyer about fire and flood zones, earthquake faults, sites in the area that had hazardous material on them. Like gas stations.

Remember when gas tanks were leaking and everywhere you looked stations were closed to replace them?  Those sites are on this report.

Those reports cost between $100 and $125.

Square Footage

If you know the square footage of your house is going to come up because you added on a bedroom without permits or you have an appraisal that says something different from the county records, bring that up to your realtor right away.  Keeping that a secret could be a costly mistake.

Death on the property

Yes, you have to disclose someone passing on the property; but you already knew you did.

There is a particular form that asks; however, if for some reason, you don’t get that form from your agent write it somewhere, even if it’s on a separate piece of paper.  Many people are concerned about this for a variety of reasons.  It doesn’t matter why they want to know.  Just tell them. It can become a huge issue if found out too late.


Just the word “mold” freaks people out.  A few years ago, mold was in the news nationwide.   There were homes that were built with faulty drywall creating health problems and causing home to be uninhabitable due to black mold.  Breathing it is extremely hazardous, especially to children.

Well, there’s bad mold and not so bad mold.  You know if you don’t clean the tub for too long or have single-pane windows that accumulate moisture, you have mold.  That’s not likely to be the stuff that cause respiratory problems. Bye Bye Mold provides ten reasons to test for mold.

Homeowners Associations

If your association sucks, you’ll not only be able to disclose that with the package that your agent will get from the HOA, you’ll have a chance to describe the issue in the disclosures.  Through your association, you’ll provide newsletters, CCRs, budget, bylaws – everything the buyer will want to know regarding the strength of the finances – or the lack of it – and condition of the property.

Trust Sale

If you’re selling a property you inherited and never lived in, forget everything I said.  You’re exempt from providing disclosures.

vicki-moore-realtor-150x150Thanks for taking the time to read this article. Feel free to leave a comment in the message box below, or to share this article on social media with someone who might benefit from it. I appreciate your time and am always open to questions, suggestions and ideas from our readers. Feel free to contact me by phone at 650-888-9268 or anytime at [email protected]     I help home buyers and sellers in Mid Silicon Valley focusing on the city of Pacifica Homes and Condos For Sale and including Foster City Homes and Condos For SaleRedwood City Homes and Condos For SaleRedwood Shores Homes and Condos For SaleSan Carlos Homes and Condos For SaleSan Mateo Homes and Condos For Sale.

If there’s anything I can do to help you, please let me know.

Thank you, talk soon!
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