Does the Seller or Real Estate Agent Have to Disclose if someone Died in the Home?

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If you are shopping for a home to rent or purchase in Nevada, you may want to recognize particular facts about the home.

Some people feel strongly about a past occupier of a home or someone else having had died in the house and would want to be informed in case such a thing happened.

Are you supposed to be informed of a death that happened in the home you want to purchase? Well, under Nevada Law governing real estate, the answer is no.

You should only be informed of a death that occurred in a home you are considering for purchase or rent if the death happened due to the condition of the house. In spite of this, according to the same law, a seller or their agent should not lie to you if you ask them any questions.

Many real estate agents and homeowners chose to disclose if a death had occurred in a home they want to sell. This makes it easier to move on with the sale without surprises in the future.

Real Estate Confidentiality, Nevada

A seller or their agent does not have to disclose everything they know about a property that is on sale or for rent if it is not material to the transaction. According to NRS. 40.770, a seller’s or buyer’s real estate agent can keep the following types of information confidential as it is not deemed material to the transaction:

  • You do not have to be informed that the home you want to buy was the scene of a crime that is considered a felony unless the offense involved the production of a preparation, mixture, compound, or material that contains any amount of methamphetamine.
  • If a home has been the site of a crime that involves the production of methamphetamine, that information can be kept from the buyer if an entity certified and licensed to remove the substance have remediated or removed it from the property or the board of health has sworn that the property is safe for habitation. Here, the ‘Board of Health’ has the meaning defined in NRS 439.4797.
  • A seller, their agent, or a buyer’s agent are not compelled under law to disclose to you if the property you are looking forward to purchasing or leasing was occupied by someone suffering from the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), or afflicted by Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), or any other disease that is not transmitted through living in the property. This kind of information is not material to the transaction, and thus, it is not required that it be released to the buyer.
  • Besides, a seller, their agent, or your agent can keep information from you about the fact that a sex offender resides or is expected to live in the neighborhood of the property you want to purchase. Such information is deemed immaterial to the transaction.
  • If a facility, licensed under chapter 449 of NRS, which serves as a transitional home for offenders who have left prison is located near the property, the seller or the agents involved can opt to keep such information confidential. They are not bound by law to disclose such information to you.
  • A seller, their agent, or yours are further not obligated under law to release information to you that they do not have. This implies that you cannot expect the seller or agents to hire a home inspector to inform you of the condition of the property. The seller and the agents are supposed to release information that they exclusively have.

You can find out more about what the Nevada law says about real estate confidentiality here. Even though the law allows the seller and agents to withhold some information from the buyer, they cannot misinform or lie to the buyer and have to decide beforehand what to say to the buyer in case they are asked questions that they are not obligated to answer.

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Disclosure Laws in Nevada

NRS 113.130 covers what disclosures someone selling property in Nevada is expected to make. The statute states that at least ten days before the seller conveys a home to the buyer, they must fill a disclosure form concerning the property.

The disclosure statement contains all material defects on the property. A defect on the property is legally defined as “a condition that materially affects the value or use of residential property in an adverse manner.”

However, if the seller discovers any defects after they have already released the disclosure statement but before the actual closing, they must inform the buyer or his agent of such faults and do so in writing as soon as is practicable before closing the sale.

What the Buyer Can Do

After receiving the disclosure statement, the buyer is allowed under law to act as he/she may choose and is not obligated to proceed with the sale. The buyer can opt to back out of the deal or can negotiate better terms taking into account the cost of the required repairs, or request the seller to rectify whatever is not working right.

He or she can decide to ignore the disclosure statement and proceed with the sale.

? You might also like to learn about what it costs to buy a house or closing costs when selling a home

Sellers Real Property Disclosure

Nevada’s law does not explicitly state what aspects or areas of property require disclosure, unlike other states. The Nevada Real Estate Division, which is the state agency that regulates real estate, offers the sellers real property disclosure (SEPD) form.

It is a five-page form which covers all the information you need to disclose to a buyer. The seller answers a series of questions on the condition of the property by ticking ‘Yes,’ ‘No’ or ‘N/A.’ The form asks about the conditions of various aspects of your property such as,

  • Systems / Appliances. These include garbage disposal, plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling, sewer and such.
  • Environmental conditions such as fungi, asbestos, radon.
  • Property Conditions such as flooding, renovations, roof, and such.

The form asks merely the seller if they are aware of any problems in specified areas. If they are aware, and they tick ‘Yes,’ they are expected to provide explanations on the final page or attach additional pages with comments.

The form also makes different legal queries about the condition of the home. Some of the legal issues raised are such as,

  • Are there contractors who worked on the property who are still unpaid?
  • Are there any lawsuits that the property is subject to?
  • Are there any common interest communities in Nevada, or homeowners associations with governing authority over the region the property is located in?

The form also has a catch-all question regarding any other defects that may be in the home that are not explicitly addressed by the queries on the form.

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Honesty in Disclosures

Sellers must be honest in making disclosures about properties they are selling to buyers. Disclosing to buyers the real condition of a property builds trust. If the buyer happens to commission an inspection, he/she will find that your price already took care of problematic areas.

Additionally, the buyer is allowed by law to rescind any agreements to buy your property under Nevada Law if you realize you did not disclose all defects on the property before they buy.

While making a sale of a residential property, all the involved parties want everything to go well. It is never easy for a home buyer to find a residential property that is right for their needs and budget. It is also not always easy for a real estate agent to close a sale. This implies that following due process and making appropriate disclosures is vital for everyone concerned.

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Consequences of Prejudiced Disclosure

The consequences of a seller not disclosing all defects in a house that they know of are dire under Nevada law. If a buyer moves into a property and discovers defects that the seller knew about but did not disclose, nor exclude the costs of replacement and repair in the agreement to purchase the property, the buyer is entitled to recover from the seller:

  • Three times the expenses required to replace or repair the defective parts.
  • Attorney fees and court fees.

If a buyer discovers deception on the part of the seller, he/she can institute a lawsuit for damages.

He/she has a timeframe within which to start the trial and can file the suit within;

  • Two years after transference of the property to the buyer.
  • One year after the purchaser discovers or should have reasonably found the defect.

Whichever of these two comes later.

A different law is applicable for homes bought from foreclosure sales, those acquired from co-owners of the property, other relatives & spouses, and on the initial purchase of a house built by a licensed contractor. The law in Nevada does, however, provide ample protection for buyers against known, undisclosed defects.

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Conclusion

No seller selling residential property in Nevada is exempt from filling the seller real property disclosure (SEPD) form. The law on real estate in Nevada protects both buyer and seller and makes the transaction of closing a sale easier.

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