Amendment clarifies seller-disclosure law


September 10, 1995|By Michael Gisriel

Q: I am an active real estate agent operating in the Greater Baltimore area. I've been told that the Maryland seller-disclosure law was recently amended by the Maryland Legislature. Can you update and summarize the current seller-disclosure requirements in Maryland when selling a home?

& Sandy Hargrove, Ruxton

A: The 1995 Maryland General Assembly which adjourned this past April did, indeed, amend the Maryland seller-disclosure law. This amendment was signed by Gov. Glendening in May and will take effect on Oct. 1, 1995. Essentially what the 1995 version of the seller-disclosure law does is clarify and redefine what the original seller-disclosure law is and what it is not. The 1995 seller-disclosure law does the following:

* Clarifies that the seller-disclosure law only applies to single residential real estate that contains four (4) or fewer single-family units.

* States that the law does not apply to newly built homes that have never been occupied by a purchaser or tenant.

* It does not apply to unimproved land or building lots.

* Clarifies that the information contained in a disclosure statement is not a warranty by the seller as to the condition of the house being sold or that the house is fit for a particular use or purpose.

The basic elements of the Maryland seller-disclosure law which governs all residential sales contracts entered into after Jan. 1, 1994, still apply. New home sales and foreclosure sales are exempt. The seller of an existing house must disclose any information that he or she knows about the water and insulation; defects in the structure, roof, foundation, plumbing, heating, electric and air conditioning systems; land use matters and other material defects.

The seller may provide a "disclaimer statement" indicating that no warranties are being made and that the house is being sold "as is." But given a choice, many buyers would rather have a disclosure than a disclaimer.

Each buyer must sign and receive the disclosure or disclaimer statement before entering into the real estate contract.

If the disclosure statement is delivered within three days after the contract is signed, the buyer has five days to review the statement and, if he or she chooses, rescind the contract. If the statement is delivered to the buyer later than three days after entering into the contract, or if it is not delivered at all, then the contract is void unless it proceeds to a completed settlement.

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