Owners of residential real estate in the State of Iowa are legally required to provide purchasers with a written disclosure regarding the condition of several aspects of the property.
Unless the transaction is exempt. The Iowa Code requires the seller to provide the disclosure to the buyer before an offer can be accepted. Essentially, the seller is required to disclose all known conditions that materially affect the property. Below are the minimum disclosures that are required by the Iowa Code.
- Lead-Based Paint. If the residential dwelling on the property was built prior to 1978, there is a risk that the inhabitants may be exposed to lead-based paint, and therefore this must be disclosed. This can be a concern for anyone living in the home, but it is children in particular that this disclosure seeks to protect.
- Basement/Foundation and Roof. The quality and integrity of these structures is imperative to the quality and sustainability of the home. Damages and repairs must be disclosed.
- Well/Pump, Septic/Drain Fields, Sewer System. Issues with these systems are not readily ascertainable by the buyer and could lead to great expense if not functioning adequately. The seller must put the buyer on notice of their existence and condition.
- Heating and Cooling Systems. Both are important for Iowa’s hot summers and cold winters. The seller must be aware if repairs are needed or have been recently done.
- Plumbing and Electrical Systems. Like many of the other disclosures, problems with these systems would not be apparent to the buyer just by walking through the property.
- Pest Infestation/Asbestos/Radon. These potential issues can be incredibly frustrating for the buyer and may get worse if left unattended. Basements are a primary area of the home for radon to be present. The seller must also provide the buyer with an Iowa Radon Home Buyers and Sellers Fact Sheet.
- Flood Plain/Other Zoning Requirements. If the property is located in a flood plain, additional insurance is required. It’s also important to be aware of what the zoning laws permit for the use of the property.
- Covenants. Many developments implement restrictive covenants that affect the use and enjoyment of the property. The buyer must be aware of any of these restrictions ahead of time.
- Shared/Co-Owned Features. For adjoined properties or properties with common areas, this disclosure is important to determining additional monthly costs and expenses.
- Physical Problems/Structural Damage. These disclosures act as a bit of a catch-all. The seller must disclose settling, flooding, drainage, and grading issues with the property. Structural damage may often be apparent (and a good real estate agent will catch it anyways), but the seller is still required to disclose.,
The seller must sign the disclosures, stating that everything “known or reasonably available” about the property has been included.
It also must state that all information provided is truthful and accurate to the best of seller’s knowledge. The buyer signs the disclosures, stating they have received them and acknowledging that the disclosures do not serve as a warranty or substitute for a formal property inspection.
There are several types of residential real estate transfers that are exempt from these disclosures.
Such as a transfer pursuant to a court order, transfers between spouses, or transfers via quitclaim deed. Be aware of whether your specific transfer is exempt or not.
Keep in mind that the items listed above are the minimum disclosures that the seller must provide.
If something isn’t covered and you feel the buyer should still be aware, disclose it. The primary objective is for the transaction to be at arms-length, with all parties having full information. Insufficient disclosures may lead to disputes and lawsuits down the road.
Buying or selling real estate? Whether you don’t know where to start, or you’re ready to put the final pieces in place, Goosmann Law Firm’s offices in Sioux City, Sioux Falls, and Omaha are able to assist you with every step of the transaction.