The who, what and why of Northwest Disclosures

“The era of caveat emptor (buyer beware) in real estate is rapidly disappearing. Parallel to increased consumer protection in other industries, the purchasers of real estate, especially homes, are increasingly demanding and receiving full information BEFORE they make a final decision regarding purchase of a specific piece of real estate.
Since 1995, sellers of residential real estate have been required to provide the purchasers with a form which details any known defects with the property, unless the purchaser has expressly waived the right to receive the disclosure statement (some other exemptions may apply under RCW 64.06). The law applies to both for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) and real estate licensee-assisted transactions. Several revisions to the disclosure law were enacted by the legislature in 2003-2004. This brochure discusses who needs to disclose, what the disclosures cover, how the disclosures are to be made, and when disclosure is required. The property disclosure statement evolved in Washington State as a risk management tool to protect sellers and the Real Property Transfer Disclosure Statement (Chapter 64.06 RCW)
Disclosure of known material property defects is the responsibility of the seller. While no agency has specific enforcement authority for this law, real estate licensees have independent obligations of disclosure. In Washington, the Department of Licensing regulates the activities of real estate licensees. The information contained in this brochure is an interpretation by the Washington Center of Real Estate Research and is not to be considered as legal advice. These guidelines are for information purposes only. Questions regarding specific use of the form or the residential property disclosure law should be addressed to a qualified real estate attorney.” excerpt from Washington Center for Real Estate Research publication, dated 4/2004. To see the publication in full, click here.

The WHY of Northwest Disclosures is simple – to give interested parties quick and reliable access to vital information that could potentially affect their health, their investment or their liability for disclosure. I got the idea to do this because I wanted to know if I was supposed to evacuate if I heard the lahar (volcano) warning, or stay put. After hours of internet research, I still didn’t have my answer. Not only did I not have my answer, I came up with a bunch more questions! This ignited the fire in my belly. I thought “someone should do this”, which was quickly followed by “why not me?” I’m not the only parent who wants to know what’s around me, before I commit my family to live there!

The WHO – well, it’s me and my partner at present. We hired some brilliant resources to help with the various aspects of creating the software and other business essentials (more plugs to come for them later). I come with 15 years of experience in various aspects of the real estate industry, and my partner has over 20 years experience owning and running a business. We make a great team!

The WHAT – Our report provides a snapshot of a piece of real estate and it’s surroundings, highlighting specific health and safety hazards that may exist nearby. We include search results for sex offenders, flood zones, landslide risk areas, contaminated meth labs, lahar risk zones, leaking underground storage tanks, landfill locations and many others. I wanted this report to be both information and educational, so we’ve also included an explanation of the risk, as well as how to mitigate the risk. A really cool feature of our online report is the active hyperlinks. I’m really jazzed about these, because it gives a curious consumer (such as myself), easy access to more information on the web.

The WHEN – well, I don’t think I said anything about when, but let me say so now… NOW! Yes, now! Our reports are great for existing homeowners who want to know more about their surroundings. It’s perfect for a seller marketing their property and wanting to give themselves an added layer of protection. A homebuyer can benefit in so many obvious ways, it almost goes without saying. But I’ll say it anyway… don’t buy a house without getting one of these reports first! There, I said it. You’ll be glad you listened to me, I’m sure of it.

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