Putting your house on the market involves providing specific information to buyers about the house's physical condition. The State of Michigan requires a home seller to disclose all known problems and other facts that materially affect the value or desirability of the property being sold.
The seller is required to make known everything that might be of concern to a potential buyer. This includes any environmental issues, parking situations, easements, shared fences or driveways, and the physical condition of the home’s structure, appliances and various systems. Even if the seller has resolved the problem, such as re-shingling the home to cure a leak in the roof, it must be disclosed.
The seller is not required to “guess.” If he doesn’t know the age of the furnace, he should simply state that he doesn’t know. This is common in the sale of an estate property where the seller may have never lived in the home. If the seller has a question as to whether to disclose a particular issue, it is generally best to disclose than not. Otherwise, the buyer may be permitted to cancel the agreement, or perhaps worse, may one day pursue a claim against you for fraud.
The seller is not expected to have expertise in construction, engineering, or architecture and is not required to have inspected inaccessible areas such as the roof or foundation. However, the seller must disclose all that he is aware of, through knowledge or observation.
This information will help the buyer to make an informed decision as to whether to purchase the property and on what terms. It is important that you comply with these requirements, as failure to do so will allow the buyer to cancel the sale of the property or later sue you for fraud, if he or she discovers defects that you knew of but didn’t disclose.
Houses built before 1978 likely have paint that contains lead. This paint is called lead-based paint. Lead-based paint in good condition is usually not a problem. However, as paint ages it peels, chips, cracks, and develops a chalklike coating. Disturbing the paint's surface will cause lead contaminated dust to become a part of your living environment. A person can get lead in their body simply by breathing or swallowing the dust created by vacuuming, sweeping, or dusting.
Lead in the human body can cause damage to the brain and nervous system, hyperactivity, slowed growth, high blood pressure, digestive problems, hearing problems and headaches. Lead is more dangerous to children because babies and young children put their hands and other objects in their mouths.
Law requires sellers to provide a disclosure indicating whether or not they have knowledge of the presence of lead-based paint in their home. Most sellers have no idea, since the lead-based paint has often been thoroughly recoated with lead-free paint and in no longer a problem.
If a seller violate Michigan's disclosure law by failing to provide a complete written disclosure or intentionally misrepresenting information, the buyer may cancel your purchase agreement prior to the closing. Or, if the closing has already occurred, the buyer may pursue legal action against the seller for fraud on the basis of misrepresentation or omission.