QUESTION: I have listed my house for sale. The real estate agent, a great person, wants me to complete and sign a document that outlines a whole lot of information about my house. Most of the questions I don't understand and alot of the information being asked is unfamiliar to me. My agent said that without the document, the chance of getting a decent offer on my house is greatly reduced. What should I do?
Confused but want to sell
Dear Confused, etc.:
Well, as you saw on the document, you are giving alot of information about your house to anyone interested in giving you and offer to purchase the property. You should speak to your lawyer before signing any document associated with the sale of your property. I cannot stress that enough although it rarely, if ever, happens.
As for the document, you fill it out as best you can. You are providing the purchaser with ammunition to use against you if there turns out to be a problem with the house after the purchaser becomes the owner. You are also giving your real estate agent ammunition to use against you because there is now a record of what information you provided about the property to the agent.
If you complete such a document, PLEASE make reference to it in the Offer (or Agreement) and specify that it is not intended to be relied upon by the purchaser. Yes, there is a statement to that effect on the document; however, most purchasers won't pay attention to it there and will, if questioned in court, likely say that they did not see it and no one told them about it.
In order to have your liability for any statement you made about the property properly limited, bring it to everyone's attention directly in the Offer (or Agreement). While that may even not be 100% effective, at least it is a good indication of your intention and your efforts to inform the purchaser. As well, the purchaser has to sign the Offer (or Agreement). The purchaser does not have to sign the information document. Usually, we are held to what we sign.
There is a bit of a controversy about that document. Check out comments and articles written by Bob Aaron, a well respected Toronto area real estate lawyer, at www.aaron.ca.