The Importance of Being Honest

The Importance of Being Honest

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Photo by Ricardo Esquivel from Pexels

The importance of being honest when filling out the Ohio Residential Property Disclosure.

Homes sales breaking records!  Buyers making offers for more than the asking price!  Buyers skipping the home inspection option in an attempt to charm sellers!

In short, emotions are running high. And today’s emotional high sometimes turns into tomorrow’s regrets when undisclosed problems appear soon after closing.

So back to basics.  In Ohio when you list your residential property (exceptions) sellers must complete and sign the Ohio Residential Property Disclosure Form.  Sellers are required, by law, to produce a copy of the form for buyer’s review.   The Residential Property Disclosure Form is supposed to notify prospective home buyers of known problems with the property, such as roof leaks, electrical troubles, malfunctioning appliances, pests, and so on.  Items on the form cover:

  • water supply
  • sewer system
  • built-in appliances, ie: water softener, security system, microwave, wine fridge, or oven
  • any oil, gas, or mineral right leases on the property
  • property is within a community run by a homeowner’s association, any new proposed assessments, fees, or abatements
  • lead-based paint
  • asbestos
  • roof
  • water leakage and/or accumulation problems
  • foundation
  • basement/crawl space
  • floors
  • interior and exterior walls
  • termites and other wood-destroying insects
  • electrical system
  • plumbing
  • heating
  • air conditioning
  • fireplace and chimney
  • urea-formaldehyde foam insulation
  • radon gas
  • underground storage tanks
  • wells
  • flood plains
  • erosion
  • zoning violations, and
  • boundary lines issues

Usually,(but not always) the completed form is uploaded to the MLS along with other information.  Most agents pull a copy for the buyer’s review while an offer is written.  In a normal world, most buyers review and sign-off on the form.  Sometimes questions come up about the seller’s comments or issues.  The issues are often addressed during the home inspection or in writing between the buyer and seller during negotiations.

The good news Ohio disclosure law requires sellers to disclose only items or problems they actually know about.  So, for example, a tiny roof leak leaving no water stains may not be known to the seller.  However, at the bottom of the form, sellers are asked to list any additional material defects.  This includes problems that could cause a buyer to not buy the property because of anticipated costs to repair or replace. Material defects are also things that are potentially dangerous, such as contamination, loose boards, areas where people could fall or get hurt.


In today’s litigious society beware of buyers who paid a premium, maybe gave up a home inspection, and find major problems after closing.

Savvy sellers need to understand the importance of being honest when filling out disclosure forms.  Selective amnesia is not a good defense for providing inaccurate or misleading information. The best advice if you have questions about how to fill out the form- contact your attorney.  The next best advice if you’re wondering if you should disclose something- do it!  It’s very unusual for buyers to sue because of too much information.

Speeding through a purchase contract in order to secure the winning bid may be a short-term winner.  Complete honesty when filling out real estate forms is also a winner!