In Washington State all sellers must complete a Seller’s Disclosure Statement, also known as a Form 17 for homes and a Form 17C for vacant land. The form is 6 pages of disclosures about your property that buyers need to know.
I’ll talk with you about this form and help you to know how to answer the questions to be in compliance with the law. You also don’t want to answer questions in such a way that you put yourself at risk for a lawsuit. Any representations made on this statement can be used against you in a lawsuit after closing by the buyer. Just to give you an idea of what I’m referring to here, imagine a question that asked if there was any problem with wiring inside any of the walls. You have check boxes for yes, no, I don’t know, or NA. If you check no because you’ve never had a problem with wiring inside the walls, you just legally guaranteed there is no wiring problem inside the walls, but you don’t know that for a fact, because you can’t see all the wiring inside the walls. If the buyer closes and then has a fire because of defective wiring inside a wall, they might sue you for misrepresentation because you represented in writing on the Seller’s Disclosure Statement that there was no problem. So the correct answer would be “I don’t know.”
I was practicing real estate law when this law went into effect on Jan 1, 1996, and I recall laughing, because this is another example of politicians trying to legislate honesty. If a seller is going to hide something, requiring him to complete this form is not going to suddenly make him Mr. Honesty.
While you must fill the form out rather than me, I can give you guidance. I hope you can see that this is one of the reasons I bring a lot to the table for you for a flat fee of $5,000. Very few listing brokers who charge 6% have the legal and practical knowledge I’ve acquired during my lifetime, which I now bring to you.
If you’d like to know more about the history of the Seller’s Disclosure law, here’s an article I wrote in 2010:
And another in 2020: Washington’s Seller Disclosure