ANNAPOLIS -- A bill to require home sellers to give buyers a detailed disclosure of the property's condition easily passed a Senate committee yesterday.
The 9-1 vote on the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee sends the bill to the full Senate for consideration later this week.
Real estate agents have hailed Senate Bill 576 as a consumer protection measure, but it also is intended to protect agents from lawsuits by buyers.
"No one is losing, but everyone is going to benefit from it," said Edgar C. Hilley, executive vice president of the Maryland Association of Realtors.
Still, the way the bill is written could end up hurting some homebuyers, according to Sen. Janice Piccinini, D-Baltimore County, who voted against the bill.
The bill says a seller must provide the detailed disclosure form to the buyer at least three days before settlement.
The buyer can back out of the deal if he does not receive the form, which covers structural, environmental, financial and other areas of concern.
But once the form is received, the buyer has only three days to cancel the contract based on the information in it.
"Once you put in a three-day time limit, after which the buyer loses rights, I have a problem with that," said Ms. Piccinini, who is a Baltimore County Realtor.
She added that by stating exactly what must be in the disclosure form, the bill doesn't account for new issues of concern that might emerge.
John Long, the owner of Columbia-based Creative Real Estate Consultants, and primarily a buyer's agent, applauded the concept of providing some protection for buyers.
A buyer who decides to back out of the contract at the last minute, for any reason at all, could do so under the bill if the seller has neglected to provide the proper form, Mr. Long pointed out.