Wait – is this article attempting to tell a seller how to complete his or her property disclosure?
NO. Not at all. What is this article then? This is for you, the reader, working as real estate agents. Multiple comments, questions and suggestions have been made regarding the last page of Florida Realtors’ two property disclosure forms: Does it have to be completed? When? How? This article addresses the confusion we hear on Florida Realtors’ Legal Hotline. For clarity’s sake, when I say the page is “blank,” it means the page isn’t filled out or completed.
Florida Realtors has two property disclosure forms that can be used by sellers in a transaction. One, Seller’s Property Disclosure – Residential (SPDR), can be used for single-family homes, townhomes or other types of residential homes that may be subject to a homeowner’s association. The other, Seller’s Property Disclosure – Condominium (SPDC), is, as the name says, for use with residential condominium units.
The last pages of these disclosure forms, however, seem to cause confusion among real estate agents when having their sellers and buyers complete and acknowledge the information within them.
Statements to the Legal Hotline usually include “The seller hasn’t signed the last page of the disclosure form!” or “Do the signature lines on the last page have to be completed by the parties?” or (and this is the big one) “The real estate agent on the other side is insisting that my seller/buyer has to sign the last page of the seller disclosure form!”
Let’s take a look at the instructions at the top of page 5 of the SPDR and top of page 4 of the SPDC, which are identical in their content, and address those comments:
Instructions to Seller: If the information set forth in this disclosure statement becomes inaccurate or incorrect, you must promptly notify Buyer. Please review the questions and your answers. Use the space below to make corrections and provide additional information, if necessary. Then acknowledge that the information is accurate as of the date signed below.
The instructions above state that the seller has an ongoing obligation during the transaction to keep the buyer informed if any of the information in the disclosure (“set forth” in the previous pages) becomes inaccurate or incorrect. This section is called “Seller Update” and is used for making corrections to any information contained within the first pages of the disclosure form.
As such, if the seller initially completes the form, it’s unlikely that this section will be completed since the seller would simply indicate the accurate/current information in the pages of the disclosure itself.
For example, a question in the forms asks if past or present water intrusion has affected the property. If initially completing this form, the seller would check one of the boxes (yes, no, don’t know). There isn’t a need to put anything in the “Seller Update” section at the same time because there is nothing to update the buyer about.
But in the same example, what if two weeks into the transaction, a pipe bursts in the guest bathroom, causing damage to the flooring? NOW the seller would use this section to change their initial answer within the body of the disclosure. (However, if nothing changes – i.e., the bathroom pipe never bursts – then it’s entirely possible this disclosure page will be left blank, aside from the initials at the bottom of the page.)
WHAT? A page would be blank in the disclosure?!?! Yes!
Again, if nothing changes in terms of the seller’s initial answers on the disclosure form, then you could have a seller’s property disclosure form with the last page blank, minus the initials at the bottom of the page.
So let’s discuss the initials now. What are the lines for initials even for? What purpose do they serve?
A closer examination of the bottom of the page tells us that the initials simply acknowledge that a party received that particular page of the disclosure. So, in terms of the last page of the disclosures, the parties would be acknowledging that they received a copy of that page even if it the page was not filled out.
In the event any of the information in the body of the disclosure needs to be updated, changed or corrected, the seller could use this section to change any answers. They would then sign and date that page at the time the updated information was given. The buyer could then sign and date that last page to indicate they received the updated information.
In sum, unless there is an update being provided by a seller, there is no need for either of the parties to sign that last page. The previous page of those forms (page 4 of the SPDR and page 3 of the SPDC) is where the seller and buyer sign with regards to the initial disclosures made by the seller. The parties should initial at the bottom of the last page of the disclosure form being used; but again, there’s no need for a signature assuming there is no update being given.
Hopefully this helps clear up any confusion about the last page of the Florida Realtors Seller’s Property Disclosures. Any questions? Call the Legal Hotline at (407) 438-1409.
Meredith Caruso is Associate General Counsel for Florida Realtors
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