Home Buying in Arlington>Question Details

Todd, Home Buyer in District of Columbia

Does anyone know the disclosure vs disclaimer laws for VA, MD and DC? In which areas must an owner disclose?

Asked by Todd, District of Columbia Sat Jul 10, 2010

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Hi Todd,

I'll throw in my bit about Maryland. In Maryland home sellers have a disclosure or a disclaimer form that they can use to tell buyers about their property. The disclosure form is fairly extensive (about 6 pages) -- it covers things like water issues -- and the owner will tell you whether they know of any problems or not with each of the items on the list. However, an owner of a Maryland property may also still revert to a disclaimer form instead of a disclosure. In this case, the buyer should ask for more information. And even if that disclosure form was used by the seller, the buyer should still get a home inspection.

Hope that helps. Finding out as much as you can about a property before you purchase is certainly better than any of the alternatives if you find that you've purchased a property with huge problems after the fact. At least in Maryland the disclosure form is often used. Virginia doesn't even have one.

Christine Rich
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Jul 10, 2010
Jim's right about regardless of which juridiction you're considering, a home inspection is always a very good idea. In general, think of Virginia as more pro-seller and DC and Maryland as more pro-consumer. The documents used in all three jurisdictions all different as their intent is different. What is the same is that sellers in all three jurisdictions must use the appropriate form in order to convey information about the property to the buyer. As I am licensed in both Virginia and DC, I'd be glad to speak with you at your convenience in greater detail about the difference between these two juridctions' forms and what they mean for you as a homebuyer. Good luck in your search!
Web Reference: http://www.JohnMentis.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Jul 10, 2010
I can't speak for MD, but in the DC contract, there is a three page full disclosure form. VA is a buyer-beware state. The disclaimer form in the contract states that the seller makes no guarentees or waranties on the property. Now if the seller knows about any major defects in a property, he/she has to make them known. If you and/or you agent ask specific questions concerning an issue like water in the basement, the seller has to honestly answer. If you ask, they have to disclose. If you don't ask, they don't have to. No matter where you buy, it's always important to have a home inspection!
Web Reference: http://www.jimmccowan.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Jul 10, 2010
Actually, I think Jim and Christine did answer the question well. For legal interpretation you'd have to consult an attorney. And a good inspection is vital. Inspectors aren't all the same either.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jul 24, 2010
This is not exactly replying to your question as asked.

Consider the blog below. It is a list of things you could find save you from a lot of problems when buying a house. It includes a lot of things you may never have considered. Since a seller has to reply to each question asked this could save you from many hidden and not disclosed issues. Some you will have to find out yourself, some the seller will have to tell you.

If you ask the kinds of questions shown in the blog above there will be very little that is not disclosed as you covered about everything that could be an issue.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jul 10, 2010
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