Home Buying in San Francisco>Question Details

Jack Bikkens, Home Buyer in San Francisco County,...

OK to bid on property without seller's disclosures?

Asked by Jack Bikkens, San Francisco County, CA Mon Oct 1, 2012

Recently I was going to bid on a property that just hit the market. I requested sellers disclosures. The seller's agent said they weren't available yet, but should be soon. She told me a couple days later that they had a coupe offers and I needed to make an offer if I wanted the property. I asked for the seller's disclosures again and she said they'd be available within 36 hours. The next morning, she told them the property had been sold, apparently without any sellers disclosures. This seemed very weird -- who would buy without seller's disclosures? Typically, I can get those, along with an inspection report, within a day or so of the open house. One oddity that I noticed was that the agent orally represented the square footage as higher than I subsequently learned via another source. The difference wasn't huge, but it was significant.

Help the community by answering this question:


Per the California Purchase contract, the seller has 7 days to give you the seller's disclosures. The seller and his agent did nothing wrong according to your description. In fact, I've never heard of seller disclosures being made available to the public in an open house. I HAVE seen a property inspection be made available. I think you need a Realtor.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 1, 2012

Are you working with an agent who is an expert in the marketplace you wish to own in? If so, that agent will be able to guide you and explain how disclosures and verbal representations etc. work. If not, please make sure to get an agent to represent you. Doing so will save you time, money, and potential heartache.

Feel free to call me at 415-200-7202.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 1, 2012
PLEASE hire your own local agent for full representation. Buying real estate is not a simple transaction and local knowledge, market expertise and negotiation skills are invaluable.

Oggi Kashi - 415.690.3792 direct
Broker Associate, Paragon Real Estate Group CA DRE 01844627
All data from sources deemed reliable but subject to errors and omissions, and not warranted.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 1, 2012
Jack if you were working with an agent they would have told you that all the disclousres have time lines in the offer to purchase contract.
Here's why we give out disclosures up front - it reduces the opportunities for the buyer to back out of the contract or renegotiate the price. But yes you can make an offer with no disclosures in hand and get everything during escrow.
Get an agent to work with you, it will greatly increase your odds of wining in this market.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 1, 2012
Jed Lane, Real Estate Pro in San Francisco, CA
Per California purchase contract a seller has seven days after acceptance to give you the disclosures. It is part of your contingencies within the contract. If I am representing the seller I would not want to pass out disclosures to every interested buyer unless we had an executed contract and you had the right to them.
If I were you I would hire a local agent that knows the area you are looking at in detail. Personally speaking you can name of any street in my area and I would most likely know any NHD problems, neighborhood issues, extra taxes, and comparable market values.
When you are in a seller's market you have to move quickly and seem motivated. When written probably the CAR purchase agreement will protect you.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 1, 2012
By law, sellers must provide certain disclosures. Any buyer has three days after getting them, should there be something in the disclosures the buyer is not happy with, to rescind the contract.

So, yes, a property can be sold without disclosures up front. But the buyer has the right to walk after their receipt, which is why most agents try to get those disclosures done before the property is offered on the market.

Sellers, by the way, are under no obligation to provide inspection reports. But if the accepted buyer has an inspection contingency and those inspections reveal information the buyer is not comfortable with, the buyer can walk. Which is why most prudent sellers, so as to avoid surprises, get inspections up front.

Astrid Lacitis
Keynote Properties
415 860 0765
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 1, 2012

You need to understand that while most sellers will want offers to include document review, some don't. Because disclosures aren't ready doesn't mean you can't make an offer. If the seller decides to accept an offer without having provided the disclosures, they still have to provide them prior to the buyer removing all contingencies and this would give you another avenue to back out if you learn something once into contract. I'm happy to explain it to you offline if you like.

Best Regards,

Lance King/Owner-Managing Broker
DRE# 01384425
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 1, 2012
Hi Jack-As has been said below, the contingency of reviewing the disclosures would take care of any concern you'd have or you'd be able to terminate your contractual obligations and get your deposit back. As was also said, because of this situation, it was most likely simply "in contract" and not sold.

The difference in square footage could have been the difference between a past appraisal measurement and what the city has listed on the tax record. I'm a former appraiser and it's very common to come up with a different figure when measuring the square footage from what the city has listed for a number of reasons. Agents will use an appraisal measurement if the figure is larger and typically provide that information in the disclosures.

You can make an offer contingent on verifying square footage. Whether that is a good idea or not is one of the things your buyer's agent can help you determine. Let me know if I can be of any help. Thanks and good luck,

Matt Ciganek
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 1, 2012
Thanks for the input. It is very intesting. I am working with an agent, but one down the peninsula. The Palo Alto and Menlo Park places I've bid have all been virtually sans contingencies other than financing. The sellers line up all the disclosures and inspections prior to listing so you know the place pretty well before making an offer. I saw the place in SF and really liked it. My agent couldn't answer the most basic questions about the place in SF, and I didn't have time to line up a SF agent. So I told the seller's agent I'd use her firm, but I needed all the disclosures. I guess she didn't understand I didn't understand the different bidding dynamic.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 1, 2012

We are in a very competitive market in SF and some reports are taking longer than usual to be issued succinctly sellers may not have all of the docs ready for buyers at the time the property is listed. This is not uncommon-however there are contingencies that can safeguard your interests in the event information is revealed after making an offer that deems the property less marketable.
It is to your advantage to have someone represent your fiduciary interests. Keep in mind that your agent will provide insight and advice from inception to completion and is indispensable in making the transaction as smooth and stress free as possible.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 1, 2012
Not every agent has disclosures ready on the first day of the listing, or first open open. A lot do, but it isn't a requirement, it is just a common practice. You can make an offer any time you want, on any home you want, even if it isn't on the market and the seller has no interest in selling.

As for an agent making a remark about SqFt during an open house, that could be her making a simple mistake. I wouldn't rely on any verbal representations.

Using a forum like this to educate yourself on how things work is a great idea. But it isn't a substitute for an experienced Buyer's agent, especially if you really want the home. It appears you've already lost one home, and you're going to run into far more things that are far more complex down the line. Good luck
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 1, 2012

In the current market this has become more common. Disclosures, however, can be attained after you have submitted an offer and you do have the option of renegotiating or canceling your offer if there are things revealed that you don't like.

Good luck with your search!

0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 1, 2012
Yes, that's why we have contingencies. You are free to make an offer at any time. Once you are in contract, you would only remove your inspection and disclosure contingencies upon receiving and reviewing the information based on the contract timelines. Your agent should have explained all of this already. If issues are discovered during the contingency period, you may then try to renegotiate the contract or cancel.

Oggi Kashi - 415.690.3792 direct
Broker Associate, Paragon Real Estate Group CA DRE 01844627
All data from sources deemed reliable but subject to errors and omissions, and not warranted.
Web Reference: http://www.oggikashi.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 1, 2012
This the reason why it's great to work with an agent who will represent you and help you understand how contingencies work in an offer. When you make an offer with an inspection contingency you should think to yourself that you are making an offer to obtain an "option" to purchase the property. There are lots of complexities involved with a listing agent delivering disclosure documents and marketing the property. Having a realtor you can trust to work with YOU to make sure you will be in a position to both have the option to purchase a property you are considering and protect yourself is during the transaction is why most buyers end up working with an agent to represent them.

Contact me for more information on how this process work. Good luck to you!

David Klein
415 810 6973
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 1, 2012
Hi Jack,
It's more likely that the property was "in contract" to be sold within a certain time period, not actually "sold" yet. While some people do have cash and are willing to take the risk of not seeing seller disclosures, usually people make an offer to purchase subject to receiving disclosures in a certain number of days within signing the contract. If the seller doesn't provide them, the buyer can cancel the deal. Are you working with an agent? He or she should be able to explain the purchase process to you. If you are not working with someone I'd be happy to work with you and answer all of your questions along the way.

Amy Blakeley
McGuire Real Estate
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 1, 2012
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