What Are Seller Disclosures and Why Are They Important?

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A seller disclosure helps protect the buyer from defects or problems with the home and surrounding property. The seller lists any known problems with the property on the disclosure form, giving the buyer advance notice of any repairs that may need to be made. In Washington state, this document is commonly known as Form 17.

There’s no substitute for an inspection!

No matter how thorough or trustworthy the seller may be, a seller disclosure is no substitute for a thorough home inspection by a licensed and qualified professional. Most sellers simply aren’t trained to look for and identify the issues that can affect the average home. Before you buy, always get an inspection.

When will I get a disclosure from the seller?

Sellers are required to give the buyer a Form 17 disclosure within a certain number of days after mutual acceptance — three days is common, but the buyer and seller can agree to a different timeline.

Will I definitely get a disclosure from the seller?

Not necessarily. Under Washington state law, there are several circumstances in which a buyer will not receive a seller’s disclosure. We’ve outlined the basics below, but visit the WA state government page for full details.

  • A foreclosure or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure (usually applies to a bank-owned home)
  • A gift or other transfer to a parent, spouse, domestic partner, or child
  • A transfer between spouses or between domestic partners in connection with a divorce or ending of domestic partnership
  • Certain business transfers in which the buyer already had a partial ownership of the property (usually applies to rental properties)
  • Estate sales or bankruptcy sales
  • Sales in which the buyer waives the right to a disclosure, though certain environmental disclosures cannot be waived by the buyer (usually applies to newly constructed homes)

What information does the seller disclose on Form 17?

The typical disclosure form will include information on:

  • Structural, electrical, and plumbing issues
  • Hazards such as lead paint, radon, asbestos, and toxic mold
  • Flood danger or existing damage from floods
  • Water sources, rights and contamination
  • Property issues such as soil condition and contamination
  • Title, property rights and ownership issues

Want to preview a seller disclosure for yourself? The exact questions required on a Form 17 can be found on the Washington State

Have a question for a real estate agent? Use the form below to ask.
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Mia Simon is a Redfin real estate agent in Silicon Valley. Mia is an experienced real estate agent and expert negotiator.

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