Does a real estate agent have to tell buyers about mold in the home they want to buy?
Under state and federal laws, full disclosure requires your agent to disclose all identified hazards on a property—as well as other factors that may impact the property’s price.
By law, they must disclose the presence of lead-based paint if your house was built before 1978. Additional state disclosure laws vary dramatically.
Depending on where you live, they may have to disclose material defects involving:
- Termite, pest, and mold issues
- Structural defects (such as roof and foundation issues)
- Sewer and plumbing issues
- Natural hazard risks (such as being located within a flood or seismic zone)
- The presence of convicted sex offenders in the neighborhood (under Megan’s Law)
- Any other relevant issues.
To check out your state’s laws, visit
When you know there are one or more issues with your home that could impact the sale price, what do you do? Every home seller needs to determine what is important to disclose – and what is legally mandated. Some states are lenient, and unless the buys asks a direct question, the law is ‘let buyer beware (Caveat Emptor).
Some states require a real estate agent to disclose any known problems with a home. If you are a seller, your agent should tell you about the disclosure laws right away.
Then, what about the ethical thing to do? Concealment of problems when selling a home is not wise. Lawsuits are common due to non-disclosure problems in homes.
Disclosure Ground Rules for Sellers
- It is the law in most states. Most of the time, a verbal disclosure is enough, but some state use a disclosure form that lists a wide variety of defects.
- A pre-sale inspection could simplify things. The inspector may find some hidden things that you didn’t know about.
- Being honest protects you, and encourages trust on the part of buyers.
- Don’t confuse buyers by pointing out insignificant details that are not pertinent to the integrity of the house, like a slightly crooked cabinet pull. But be sure to disclose anything that the customer will ask to be fixed after the home inspection takes place or makes the home dangerous.
- In addition to the obvious ones listed above, other considerations to disclose – law or not – are:
- Paranormal activity
- Murder or deaths on the property
- Roof leaks or a bad roof
- Foundation cracks and sinking
- Known toxins – Radon, asbestos, urea formaldehyde, mold (even if you have done remediation of mold in your home, it should be disclose.)
- Water damage
- Off site hazards (toxic waste)
- Square footage
- More bedrooms than septic system capacity
- Repairs or improvement made to the house
- Legal issues (title, forced sale)
- Bad neighbors
- Noise pollution
- Homeowners Association and covenants
- Problems with HVAC, electrical, plumbing, windows, siding
What Do You Have to Disclose When Selling a House by Bill Gassett, www.MaxRealEstateExposure.com
State Disclosure Laws, www.nolo.com; https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/state-state-seller-disclosure-requirements?fbclid=IwAR3yiA6klO6XoTAT8capLsVD1MAViuox3-sQYVUOoTvjqKEYNlVUE0IdRwc