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Best Practices with Residential Property Disclosure Form

Best Practices with Residential Property Disclosure Form

Recently I was involved in a civil case whereby a buyer sued a listing agent for incorrect information on the Residential Property Disclosure Form. The buyer asserted that he relied on the incorrect information to his detriment and has now suffered damages.  Normally this type of allegation against a listing agent wouldn’t have legs, except for one twist.  It turns out the listing agent completed the form on behalf of the seller and as we might expect, the seller claimed the mistake was the listing agent’s error alone.

This leads me to the best practices tip: Never ever complete the Residential Property Disclosure Form for a client.

About a year ago I spoke at the Legal Issues Form for the Ohio Realtors Convention and was asked what an agent is to do with a client that is disabled or requires assistance completing the form.  The best recommendation is to have the seller utilize a trusted friend, family member or neighbor’s assistance in completing the form.  A real estate agent should never aid the seller in completing the form.

In January of this year, the Superintendent of the Ohio Division of Real Estate echoed the same sentiment.  In an advisory letter to a real estate licensee at the closure of an investigation, the Superintendent cautioned, “it is considered best practices that real estate agents should not complete the residential property disclosure form (form) in any manner, including inserting any additions or notes to the form.”

Although agents may feel aiding a seller in completing the Residential Property Disclosure Form is courteous and helpful, unfortunately it opens the agent to liability.  Just as signing the deed, the Residential Property Disclosure Form is for the seller alone to complete.

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