By Jennifer Lynn Walker
When it comes time to sell a property, you’ll have to fill out the ‘Declarations of the Seller of the Immovable’ (DS). It’s a mandatory form residential sellers must complete along with a brokerage contract in order to have their house listed on Centris.ca. It’s six pages long with questions about your knowledge of the house and property’s history.
A lot of people balk at the amount of time this form requires and worry they might shoot themselves in the foot if they declare everything they know. There is nothing further from the truth.
Transparency protects both parties
When a buyer gives you a promise to purchase, they acknowledge, in writing, that they understand everything stated on the declaration. As well, most building inspectors will request a copy for their files. Having this information up front will help during the inspection. After the inspection, the buyer will have no grounds to renegotiate on anything you’ve already declared.
If they ever try to come back at you for problems they experienced after they bought and moved in, you’ll be protected as long the problem was stated in the declaration.
Include everything you know
The most common issue that people declare is water infiltration. Whether it’s an old problem or a new one, large or small, it’s best to make the buyer aware of what happened and what you’ve done to deal with it.
Insects and mice are the culprits behind another very common declaration. If you get those spring ants that come for one week, it’s best to be up front.
Another important issue you might not think of is the history of the building. Has it ever been the site of a suicide or murder? Was it ever used to house a marijuana grow-op? These are serious issues and must be disclosed for the co-contractor’s consent to be free and informed.
Even if an issue has been resolved, declare it
Did you have to renovate a bathroom due to water damage around the shower? Even though it has been fixed, declare it.
Were you ever in court with a neighbour fighting over a fence? Even though it has been resolved, declare it.
Did you hear rumours that the city might close off one of the access points to your street? Even though it isn’t confirmed, declare it.
Wrack your brain and mention any information that has even a slim chance of impacting the buyer in the future. Anything you keep to yourself can be characterized as a hidden defect in court.
The more thorough you are in your declaration, the more you protect yourself from the chance a zombie problem will rise from the past and threaten your financial security.
Real estate brokers need the declaration to proceed
It’s a real estate broker’s duty to provide everyone with accurate information. If a seller refuses to fill out the declaration or isn’t truthful, the broker cannot enter into a brokerage contract. Brokers who violate this rule may be the subject of a disciplinary complaint or lose their entitlement to remuneration.
When you are selling a house or property, it doesn’t matter how small or insignificant you feel a problem might have been. It’s your job is to disclose everything you know whether it was fixed or not.
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