13 Things You Must Disclose When Selling Your House

There can be major repercussions for keeping your mouth shut.
Updated May 8, 2024
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Selling a home? Fresh paint and curb appeal are a must, but there's a secret weapon even more important: transparency.

Disclosure laws prevent sugarcoating your property and ensure buyers know everything about what they're getting to help them avoid wasting money.

These laws vary by state, but here are 13 key things you, as a buyer or seller, should be aware of.

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Water damage

Monkey Business/Adobe repairing burst water pipe

Water can do major damage to a home, whether from a flood, a leak, or a plumbing issue. If your home has suffered water damage in the past, you may need to disclose this to potential buyers even if the issue was addressed and remediated.

A death in the home

fergregory/Adobe police crime scene

Some people are uncomfortable purchasing a home where someone has died, and certain states support them. In some states, you are required to disclose that information even if it occurred before your time in the home.

In other states, you’re required to disclose deaths in the home only if they were violent or criminal. And in some states, you have to let the potential buyer know if you suspect the house is haunted.

Neighborhood noises and nuisances

bettina sampl/Adobe 2 dogs howling

Nearly everyone has encountered a nuisance neighbor at some point. But if this bad neighbor goes beyond the occasional loud barbecue and treads into bothersome or criminal territory, you may need to disclose that. Especially if formal complaints have been made.

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Lead paint and plumbing

Eakrin/Adobe repairing water pipe using wrench

While lead paint is often assumed to be present in older homes, some states will require you to disclose knowledge about both lead paint and lead plumbing. You won’t be required to remediate it, but that knowledge transfer is necessary.


Arjan/Adobe professional asbestos removal

Typically, when asbestos is found in a home, the homeowners immediately perform remediation for their own safety. But even after remediation has been done, that information still has to be shared with the buyer.

Toxic leaks

Vivid Concepts/Adobe cleaning chemical spill

It’s more common to hear about a toxic leak in regard to a train or other mass transit carrying chemicals, but toxic leaks can also happen in your home.

If a hazardous substance has ever leaked on your property, you may be required to disclose that to the buyer.

Flood plain hazards

Victor zastol'skiy/Adobe kids and flooding

Floodplain mapping is public domain, but you still may be asked to disclose the floodplain information and any historical knowledge of floods in the area.

HOA facts and figures

Andrey Popov/Adobe house model near HOA rules and regulations

While homeowners association (HOA) rules and regulations are disclosed during the buying process, even more important information needs to be shared. 

Potential buyers should be informed of the association’s reserves and financials so they're aware of the HOA’s financial health or the potential for future assessments.

Repair history

SnapVault/Adobe blueprints of a residence

If you’ve done major renovations, like completely gutting a kitchen or adding a bathroom, then those updates should be disclosed to the buyer. This also is relevant when you’re disclosing information about permit or zoning changes.

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exebiche/Adobe rusty iron gate closed

If a neighbor has an easement through your yard that gives them access to their driveway or something on your property, then that needs to be disclosed.

Learning that your neighbors have to cross your front yard to get to a public road shouldn’t be a surprise after buying.

Pest infestation

hedgehog94/Adobe spraying pesticide with sprayer

In some states, you only have to disclose a pet infestation if it’s currently active. But in others you have to disclose an infestation regardless of when it occurred. An infestation could include anything from mice to termites to bats and everything in between.

Structural damage

TANUT/Adobe cracked concrete building wall

Most buyers notice cosmetic changes they would like to make in a house when they’re house-hunting. But they don’t expect to find out there’s a cracked foundation or knob-and-tube electrical after their purchase. 

These structural concerns should be disclosed during the buying process. Buyers should also have a full home inspection done before they finalize the sale to uncover any major issues.

Environmental concerns

torwaiphoto/Adobe woman wearing mask dust prevention

If there are major environmental concerns from transit pollution or a toxic waste site, or there’s an issue with the water in the area, they need to be disclosed before a buyer signs on closing day.

Bottom line

WavebreakMediaMicro/Adobe happy couple holding sold sign

Disclosures are different from state to state, so it’s critical that sellers check state disclosure laws before deciding what they do and don't have to share.

Some states are more stringent than others. You want to be sure you’re sharing the required information without sharing more than you need to.

And if you’re a buyer who has been saving for a down payment in a high-yield savings account, you won’t be happy to learn that your dream house has a nasty surprise.

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Author Details

Heather Bien Heather Bien is a writer covering personal finance and budgeting and how those relate to life, travel, entertaining, and more. With bylines that include The Spruce, Apartment Therapy, and mindbodygreen, she's covered everything from tax tips for freelancers to budgeting hacks to how to get the highest ROI out of your home renovations.

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