Seller Disclosures Required by Connecticut

CT Seller Disclosures for Real Estate, Penalty Increase.

I advise my seller clients to write everything they can that they know about their home on that CT Seller Disclosure Form.  Even attach pages, if they needed to. In the state  of Connecticut, where I live and sell homes, it is the law. 

The penalty for not providing a buyer with the disclosure form, when they make their offer, is now $400.00.  Whether it is sold by the owner or by a real estate broker. The state of Connecticut just raised that penalty from $300.00. We will be issued new forms in the coming months.

This is a good advantage for the seller's to take. Most people have maintained their homes. Some have updated them. Many people improve the home, prior to listing it. All good for the buyers. This is good for the sellers, also. It will make their home more appealing to the buyers.  Unknown or missing information can be frightening when making such a significant purchase. Better to show off your improvements for your home!

Every once in awhile, we come across a seller who has checked no or unknown, throughout the three pages of the report. Even the lead and mold disclosures are checked, unknown. This can be a warning to buyers.  Have they done nothing to this home while they lived there? There seems to be a new kitchen, new doors, new boiler, etc. I suggest asking the listing agent if there might be a list of improvements. Maybe, the sellers don't understand how valuable the seller disclosure can be for the sale of their home. Sometimes we receive a list, sometimes we don't. According to state law estates, foreclosures and new construction properties, are not required by law to fill out this form.

Currently, our state legislatures are updating the form, since the penalty increased. When they do, we will need to update each of our listings with that new form filled out by the seller.  Whether they are owner occupied or not.

Regardless, I always advise my clients to have their own home inspection.  I refer to it as "cheap insurance" going forward. Many of the home inspectors offer helpful tips on maintenance and changes that they can make, that will enhance the property. Learning about homeownership can be exciting and rewarding!

Click here to access the state's Seller Disclosure Form. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Frances C Rokicki August 28, 2012 at 11:03 AM
Happy to help:) Have a good day!
Janet Levesque August 28, 2012 at 01:02 PM
My point is why would the State require this form to be completed when there is no punishment when the sellers do not complete it honestly? For the sellers their "butts" are covered but for the buyers it is a useless piece of paper. Thank you for your response.
Heather August 28, 2012 at 02:47 PM
At the end of the day, if the form is filled out or not doesn't matter- it is that the seller fills it out accurately. We bought our home 7 years ago and every area of concern was checked NO> We had the home inspected, and there was no major issues. Several years later when installing central air, it was discovered that the house had a major fire- and most of the damage was covered up. Needless to say, we had to remove the roof and the entire second floor due to mold, fire, and water damage- at a cost of over $80,000. We are suing them, however, even if we win we can only recover the damages - not our attorney fees. So we lose a third no matter what. In addition, the seller can simply go bankrupt and never pay us at all. There is no justice in that.
Frances C Rokicki August 28, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Heather, Usually, fire damage will show up on a property, when you apply for homeowner's insurance, but, only if the owners of the home reported the fire to their insurance company. I believe that the records of property damages are kept, forever, on the insurance files and that they are shared with other insurance companies. I had a sales purchase, years ago, that alerted us of a previous fire, from the insurance files. Unfortunately, everyone is not honest and truthful.
Frances C Rokicki August 28, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Janet, I been selling homes in Ct & Mass. for more than twenty years. Before we had the disclosures, it was more difficult for the buyers. The form is not the answer to all of the issues, as we can see from the comments here, but, it is better than when we didn't have the state step in and create this form. They are constantly changing and improving this and other forms. Contact your state legislatures and let them know the issues that you have faced. They are the creators of this form. Maybe, if more people let them know of their experiences, we will cause an improvement to the form.
Think Positive August 28, 2012 at 04:35 PM
A visit to the town's building department would have uncovered this fire. Major fires don't go unnoticed by town officals. Even the assessor's records would most likely have noted a fire. Buyers need to ask a lot of questions when purchasing a home. All kinds of info can be found within the various departments in the town hall. Don't rely on the homeowner/seller or the Realtor. You'd be surprised what info you can uncover while researching the public records/files/. "Caveat Emptor"
Frances C Rokicki August 28, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Think Positive, Town field cards can be helpful, but, just like any of the other comments, if the town doesn't know about, it is not on the cards. The fire department might be a better contact for this type of situation. If they made the call to the property, they would have a record of it.
R Eleveld August 28, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Frances, another question. By state law is the real estate agent not supposed to represent the seller in all real estate transactions? I thought CT mandated such by law.
Frances C Rokicki August 28, 2012 at 06:22 PM
R Eleveld, Aren't you a Ct licensed real estate agent? In your prior post, you said, " I had a cleint purchase a home" ?
R Eleveld August 28, 2012 at 06:34 PM
No, I am a licensed Financial Adviser, RR, RGSP, RIAA, LL&H licenses.
Frances C Rokicki August 28, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Okay, I assumed real estate when you stated, my client:) The state of Ct does have agency law. Within that scope, the broker/owner decides how their agents will represent its clients.
Jim Hartzell August 28, 2012 at 06:52 PM
At a penalty of only $400 for not disclosing a problem, that sure isn't any deterrent to any seller. Maybe the agents should lobby the legislature to up that to half the selling price of the home if a significant problem shows up related to something not on the disclosure forms within a 10 year period. That would help buyers that find covered up fire damage or s water problem that only show up in bad weather.
Frances C Rokicki August 28, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Jim, If everyone contacted their state relpresentatives it would help to create change. They need to hear from all of us. The form is not just for disclosing problems, but, for updates that they may have done for the property. If it is on public sewer or septic system, city water versus well, etc. I have asked the editor to post an attachment of the form.
R Eleveld August 28, 2012 at 07:19 PM
I would be curios of your take on the real estate collapse. What is your take as to the cause if you have one. I will give you credit for answering questions.
Frances C Rokicki August 28, 2012 at 07:28 PM
R Eleveld, I would rather stay on topic. Feel free to contact me, through my profile page, if you like, with other questions.
David Moran (Editor) August 28, 2012 at 07:38 PM
A link to a copy of the form has been added to the end of this blog. You can also find the form here: http://www.ct.gov/dcp/lib/dcp/pdf/forms/real_estate_property_condition_disclosure_form_rev.pdf
Frances C Rokicki August 28, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Thank you so much! This will help people to become more familiar with the form. We have been told that it will be updated, soon:)
Kelly P August 28, 2012 at 11:27 PM
The above idea is not really a wise approach. It presupposes that current owners have knowledge of prior repairs and/or damage that occurred before their period of ownership. That presumption is not appropriate. The importance of disclosure forms is to disclose what you know, not to force an owner to become an expert about building codes or mechanicals. Also, in terms of future claims for undisclosed issues that result in damages, a buyer should have to prove that a seller knew and didn't disclose something - that's a basic element of a legal claim. The form is one way to address what wasn't disclosed, but not what was actually known. I'm not exactly sure what duty a seller owes a buyer as a matter of common or statutory law. At the same time, mandating the same warranty period by a seller of a 5 year old home v. a 50 year old home just doesn't make sense. The law can only go far before it would have a chilling effect on transactions. I might add that the statutory policy behind disclosure requirements is only about owners disclosing relevant information about the home, it's really not a marketing tool to emphasize features or improvements etc., though repairs v. improvements is a fine line.
Think Positive August 29, 2012 at 11:43 AM
A town government consists of numerous departments, buiding, zoning, water/sewer, town clerk, assessor's, etc. So, don't limit your search for information to just the town field card/assessor's card/street card; and while checking these cards, remember to ask the assessor to pull the older card on the property. The previous card, to the most current re-evaluation card. Sometimes that older card will shed a whole lot of light on a property. Building files will contain information on fire damage. The fire department will advise you to call the town for all fires are reported to the building department. Caveat Emptor!
Frances C Rokicki August 29, 2012 at 11:47 AM
Kelly, The disclosure form for the seller, is for the period that they have owned the home. Everyone hasn't realized that yet. Improvements are important to list, so that, the buyer knows what is newer on the home and also, what items may need to be replaced in the near future. They continue to update and improve the form, all for the benefit of the parties who buying and selling homes.
Think Positive August 29, 2012 at 11:53 AM
"Connecticut, for 25 years the state with the highest per capita income in the U.S., is now leading the nation in home-price declines as Wall Street trims jobs and bonuses that had driven multimillion-dollar property sales." http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-28/connecticut-homes-biggest-losers-as-wall-street-cuts-mortgages.html
Think Positive August 29, 2012 at 12:08 PM
"Connecticut housing markets continued the pattern established over the past year: prices declined at a slower pace than the year before, and transactions stabilized or increased somewhat. Anecdotal reports indicate that some local housing markets have declined to the point where investors find it profitable to buy for rental purposes." "The condominium market continued to display increasingly negative price changes. A year ago a typical condo in Connecticut was declining at a 5 - 7% annual pace; this year -10% applies to that same unit." http://admin.business.uconn.edu/portalvbvs/desktopmodules/enewsletter/showarchive.aspx?aid=536
Kelly P August 29, 2012 at 12:37 PM
Acknowledged. I was primarily responding the comment about sellers providing warranty for something about which they may have no knowledge. I understand your point in part but improvements v. routine maintenance v. unusual repair is a gray area, and the form does not actually ask about those. It still is helpful in my view, and if not provided, I would guess a house would be viewed negatively in comparison with homes where disclosure is provided.
Think Positive August 29, 2012 at 12:52 PM
Buyer (still) beware "Sounds great in theory. But buyer-broker Tom Wemett, former president of the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents, says practical application is less than precise. Oftentimes, agents adopt a don't-ask, don't-tell attitude just to secure a listing" "What happens is that listing agents go into the property with blinders on; they don't want to know about that stuff. They hand the seller the property condition disclosure form and say, 'Get this back to me so we can provide it to the buyer.' The problem is, sellers never fill out the form correctly," he says. "There also are those within the industry who feel that mandatory disclosure is simply a big waste of time. Sellers are asked questions they are unqualified to answer (Underground storage tank? Infestation?). Mandatory disclosure also gives agents and brokers only the illusion of legal protection. Buyers would be better served, they say, by a thorough property inspection and an extended home warranty" http://www.bankrate.com/brm/news/real-estate/buyerguide2004/disclosures.asp
Think Positive August 29, 2012 at 01:01 PM
"What kind of projects need a building permit in Connecticut?" "Generally new buildings or substantial alterations to existing buildings will require a building permit. Because building permits are issued at the city level in Connecticut, some cities may require building permits for smaller projects as well. West Hartford, for example, requires you to get a permit for air conditioning and heating unit installment, electrical and plumbing work, and sprinkler systems. While parts of the building code are determined by state law, whether your project will need a building permit often depends on the local regulations in the municipality where the property is located." http://www.cityapplications.com/building-permits/CT-Connecticut/bldg-Connecticut.html
Think Positive August 29, 2012 at 01:26 PM
If a Realtor promotes the property has having been updated with a new kitchen, bath, electrical, etc, they better be certain that those improvements were done with proper permits, if permits were required, for they too could be held liable if the new owner finds problems with these updates at a later date. I remember years ago a Realtor friend of mine got sued over such an issue. The seller told the Realtor that the house had electrical had been updated. She promoted such to the buyers. Well, a few months after the new buyer's moved there was a fire. It was determined that the cause of the fire was "faulty wiring". The seller never obtained a 'permit' for the electrical work for he did the work himself. Guess who got sued, the seller and the Realtor. The buyer was awarded damages.
Think Positive August 29, 2012 at 02:02 PM
"Who is liable?" "When a seller fails to disclose a material, latent defect, that seller is liable for any costs the purchaser has to pay to remedy the situation. This liability extends to the listing agent. Both owner and agent have a duty to not only disclose but to exercise reasonable diligence to discover any latent defects in the property they want to sell. This means that even if the defect was not readily observable but could have been reasonably discovered by the seller and/or agent, then liability attaches to both. The owner and agent may remain liable even if the buyer's inspector does not discover the defect(s) during inspection" http://www.realestatelawyers.com/resources/real-estate/purchase-sale-agreements/what-happens-a-seller-fails-disclose-defects-whe A quick trip to your local building dept. will tell whether or not "permits" were issued and/or required for updates or improvements that were made. Shoddy workmanship or improvements/repairs that don't meet building code are as much, if not more likely, to get you sued.
Daniella Ruiz August 29, 2012 at 05:41 PM
with many 'homes' being purchased for the benefit of a quick flip, a snapped up foreclosure or a real estate agent doing some fast turn overs for their own profit, they may be the legal owner, but would have little or no history or knowledge of the structure or the property. buyers must do some minor leg work, have an inspector tour the home, talk to neighbors or past renters failing to ask some some basic questions or worse, to be taken in by a realtor that claims 'there's a few other buyers very interested in this' ploy, is RED FLAG that any new purchase should raise. the state may be real good at spewing out all sorts of requirements, legislation, forms, fee demands, and agency 'make work' process'\s, but they wont be there to pay for the misery that ensues when seller/buyer contract goes to pot. it will be a lawyer intense situation, and THAT alone will cost money that would have been better spent on basic legwork done BEFORE the sale. caveat emptor, ( in other words, cover your own bum!)
R Eleveld August 29, 2012 at 07:40 PM
Real Estate is the largest singular "investment" most people will ever make. It is also a transactions involving at least 6 people with their hands in the pot. The direct parties (buyer/seller), the agents (1 or 2), the mortgage provider, the appraiser, the lawyers (note plural), and others, plus CT with its various taxes and disclosures. As you can guess there are a lot of people that get paid. In a real estate transaction both the sellers agent and the buyers agent have a vested interest in the sales price, an inherent conflict of interest, (commission is a % of sales price). This creates a bias towards higher prices that equals greater commissions. This price bias is only kept in check by the appraisers and/or 'bankers' not willing to finance "unreasonable" values. Agents, Lenders and Lawyers and the State are all compensated in whole or in part based upon the transaction value. Agents get a % of the transaction value; Lawyers get paid a fee Plus a portion of the Title Insurance cost as a "commission" plus other services; Mortgage providers get a % of the loan plus a bonus for complexity and lower credit ratings = higher compensation (now understand the bad loan bubble?); Appraisers and Home Inspectors are paid a fee for service. If all parties understand conflicts it is better for the consumer. As others have said Caveat Emptor = BUYER BEWARE.
Frances C Rokicki September 05, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Thank you all for your comments and information that you provided. Making the public more aware of state required forms, is so very helpful, when they decide to buy or sell a home in Ct.


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