Real Estate Disclosures Law and Legal Definition

Disclosure of hazardous or defective conditions on real estate is regulated by state law. The law usually requires that potential buyers be told all material facts about the condition of a property for sale. That disclosure has included whether the property is within earthquake fault zones, seismic hazard zones or wildland fire areas, in which fire protection falls under the jurisdiction of the state, a flood hazard area as designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or a dam inundation area -- land that could potentially be flooded after a dam failure. Defects listed on a disclosure form may also include appliances, electrical system, water and sewer system, roofing, structural and foundation problems, moisture, and others. Real estate agents may also be required to disclose whether they represent the interests of the buyer or seller.

Latent defects are problems with the property that the buyer customers or buyer agents aren't able to discover through a normal inspection. Some states interpret latent defects to mean structural items and safety items. Structural items are things like problems with the foundation. The disclosure laws typically require material defects to be disclosed. The word material, in this case, means important. A latent defect, is generally one important enough to affect the decision of the average buyer to buy the house.

Disclosure of environmental risks, particularly the ones that pose health hazards, may also be information that you have to disclose. A leaking underground oil tank or the presence of a nearby nuclear power plant has to be disclosed to the buyer customer.