Md. seller disclosure law focuses on home defects


March 20, 1994|By MICHAEL GISRIEL

Q: We're concerned about Maryland's new seller disclosure requirement. What responsibilities do we have to the buyer? The tile in our shower stall has settled and some water remains after taking a shower. We have to wipe the excess water up with a towel. Also, do we have to disclose the condensation we have on the windows on the shady side of the house in the winter?

A. R., Baltimore

A: The seller disclosure law applies to all sales contracts entered into after Jan. 1, 1994. New home sales and foreclosure sales are exempt. The Maryland Real Estate Commission has developed a disclosure form, which has 17 main questions. Sellers are asked to answer "yes," "no" or "unknown."

The form asks questions about a house's foundation, roof leaks, basement moisture, structural problems, plumbing, heating, air conditioning, electrical system, septic systems, water supply, insulation, exterior drainage, termites, environmental hazards LTC such as radon or asbestos, zoning easements, flood plain and miscellaneous defects. A seller is also asked about the age of heating, air conditioning and hot water systems.

Unless you chose to provide a "disclaimer statement" -- which indicates that no warranties are being made and the house is being sold "as is" -- you'll probably have to disclose any defects or conditions that are considered "material." You probably want to consult with your real estate agent or hire a professional inspector to help complete the form. These seller disclosure forms can be obtained at no charge from either your real estate agent or directly from the Maryland Real Estate Commission.

Q: I owe $34,000 on a condo in Ocean City and $36,000 on a house that I rent out in Fallston. Please recommend a lender that can refinance these loans for me.

T. Young, Fallston

A: Many lenders do not like to make small loans under $40,000 because their secondary mortgage market investors usually won't purchase these small mortgages. But many local lenders who do not sell their mortgages in the secondary mortgage market make loans in the amounts you seek.

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