Sellers must fill out a lengthy disclosure form when transferring or selling real estate. The law applies to properties with one to four dwelling units and only where the purchaser intends to live in the building. It does not apply to a resale of a newly constructed residential property that hasn't been lived in.

There is no option to disclaim for most sellers. Among the transactions exempt from disclosure requirements are: court-ordered transfers of property, as in the case of actions by a probate court administering an estate or transfers by a bankruptcy court; transfers made by a mortgage company in a foreclosure foreclosure; transfers by a conservatorship or a trustee; or by a non-occupant fiduciary administering an estate.

New this year: Sellers must disclose:

* If the property is a D.C. landmark or in a historic district.

* If the property has been cited for a historic preservation violation during the seller's ownership.

* If the property is subject to a conservation easement.

The choices on the form are yes, no, unknown and not applicable.

The form is not easily found on the Internet, but realty agents can provide it.


Sellers of single-family residential property, with four or fewer units, can choose to file a disclosure form or a disclaimer, but as of today must disclose any latent defects of which the seller has actual knowledge.

The new law defines a latent defect as material defects in property or an improvement to the property that a buyer would not reasonably be expected to ascertain or observe by a careful visual inspection and that would pose a direct threat to the health or safety of the buyer or a person living in the property.

Seller are not required to find the defects, but rather to disclose those defects they know about. Among those exempt from disclosure are sellers of a house that has never been occupied or for which a certificate of occupancy has been issued within a year before the seller and buyer enter into a contract; foreclosure sales by lenders or bankruptcy sales by a court-appointed trustee; and transfers connected with an estate, guardianship, conservatorship or trust.

The choices on the regular disclosure form are yes, no and unknown.

The new form can be found at the Maryland Real Estate Commission Web site, www.dllr.state.md.us/license/occprof/recomm.html.


Sellers of residential property with one to four dwelling units can file a disclosure form or a disclaimer statement provided by the Real Estate Board stating that "the owner makes no representations or warranties as to the condition of the real property or any improvements thereon, and that the purchaser will be receiving the real property "as is," that is, with all defects which may exist, if any, except as otherwise provided in the real estate purchase contract."

The state has exemptions similar to those in the District and Maryland.

The forms can be found on the Internet at www.state.va.us/dpor/reb_consumer.htm.

-- Sandra Fleishman