Property Disclosure Statements in Oregon: What Home Sellers Need to Know
Selling a house in Oregon? You’re required by law to provide your buyer with a “property disclosure statement.” These documents are intended to reveal information about the condition of the property.
If your home has an ugly past, the buyer can revoke their offer without consequence. You’ll be back at square one, crossing your fingers that the next potential buyer won’t be scared off by the disclosure reveal.
So how do you sell a house with an unfavorable history or unsavory past?
Sit tight! This article provides a crash course on property disclosure statements in Oregon and how to sell your home no matter the condition.
Meet the Authors: Greg and Laura
As Portland real estate investors, we have over a decade of experience. Having worked with hundreds of homeowners who are having trouble selling their home, we want you to know that selling a home with an unfavorable property disclosure is possible!
What is a property disclosure statement?
A property disclosure statement is a series of documents the seller is legally bound to present to a buyer once a written offer is in hand. These documents must truthfully disclose any and all issues, defects, or previous repairs or relevant history of the home.
You might feel like this statement inherently makes things more difficult for the seller, but it’s actually in the best interest of both parties.
The purpose of this disclosure statement is to…
- Inform the buyer of any issues with your home
- Legally protect you (the seller) from any potential future lawsuits
What does Oregon law says about real estate disclosures?
Not every state requires a seller to perform real estate disclosures, but Oregon does. The law applies whether you’re selling a single family home, duplex, condominium, timeshare, or manufactured dwelling.
If you fail or refuse to provide a property disclosure statement, your buyer has the right to revoke their offer immediately (so long as the sale hasn’t closed). If the buyer finds the information in the statement to be unfavorable, they can also back out of the purchase any time prior to closing.
What kinds of things need to be disclosed to a buyer?
Oregon’s property disclosure statement (ORS 105.465(2)) makes it easy for you to disclose any issues by providing a series of yes and no questions. To help avoid liability, it’s recommended that you over-disclose rather than under disclose.
Generally, sellers are advised to over-disclose defects rather than under-disclose them in order to protect themselves from liability.
So what kinds of things will you be asked to disclose? Common disclosures include:
- Construction, repairs, or renovations done without a permit or not done to code
- Leaky windows, doors, and pipes
- Hazards, including fire hazards
- Sewage disposal
- Water sources and irrigation
- Lead-based paint (houses built before 1978 require a special federal disclosure)
- Termite issues
- Appliance, HVAC, and electrical malfunctions
- Insulation problems
- Property line or zoning disputes
- Neighbor issues, including noise or construction issues in the area
- Deaths occurring on the property
- Unusual odors
- Property disputes
- Previous uses of the property (including drug manufacturing)
- Pets and wild animals
- Weather damage
The last question on the form acts as a catch-all to ensure all bases are covered. It asks, “Are there any other material defects affecting this property or its value that a prospective buyer should know about?”
You have two answers to choose from: Yes or no. If yes, you will be required to provide a written explanation.
No white lies! Property disclosures must be truthful
Each answer you give must be based on your actual knowledge and answered truthfully.
Let’s say the question is, “Are there any defective insulated doors or windows?” If you have never had an issue with door or window insulation, the correct answer is likely “yes.” However, if you’ve never had your door or window insulation checked to ensure they’re functioning correctly, the correct answer is likely “unknown.”
Point being, if you don’t know for sure one way or another, answering “unknown” is a good idea. It will let the buyer know they should look into the issue further.
Claiming ignorance on a property disclosure won’t cut it
Simply not knowing the answer isn’t always good enough.
Here’s another example. Let’s say toxic mold is found in the basement. The area smells musty and the mold is visibly obvious. However, the issue was not disclosed on the statement or it was marked as “unknown.”
The buyer might claim that you must have known about the issue, since it was so obvious. Upon discovering the mold once the sale has closed, they can sue you for fraud, costing you tens of thousands of dollars and potentially taking years to resolve.
Obviously, this is a worse case scenario. To avoid any such disputes, you should consider each answer very carefully. If you’re unsure of how to answer, ask your real estate agent or even your attorney.
Additionally, make sure you examine your home closely for obvious defects. Remember, over disclosing is always better…even if it might potentially lead to a buyer backing out of the sale. It will save you in the long run.
How to sell a house with a negative property disclosure statement
What can you do if your house has a lot of issues or a really negative past (like a death in the home or it was once the site of drug manufacturing)?
You have a few viable options, depending on your situation and goals.
- Keep doing what you’re doing and hope the disclosure doesn’t bother the buyer. This strategy will likely be long and tedious, going through multiple buyers with no luck.
- List the home for a much lower price. This may help appeal to buyers who are okay with a little fixer-upper.
- Market the home as “selling as-is, no disclosures.” These types of homes typically sell for much less, as the buyer assumes you’re hiding something and the house has a lot of issues
- Sell your house for cash to a real estate investor. A real estate investor doesn’t care about the condition of your property and you won’t have to disclose any information about it. You’ll receive a cash offer, fast.
Sell your house as-is to Columbia Redevelopment — no disclosures needed
Whether you own a home that’s in need of extensive repairs, or it has a few simple but unfavorable marks in its history, know that there ARE options. We’re here to help.
At Columbia Redevelopment, we buy homes in any condition, as-is, for all cash and without any fees, inspections, or disclosures. Give us a call and we’ll visit your home, make you an all-cash offer with no strings attached, and close the transaction when it works best for you (and as fast as 2 to 3 days!).