On July 1, an updated Sellers Property Disclosure Statement (PAR Form SPD) will be published for use.
There was no change to the Seller Disclosure Law that forced a change to the form, and there is no need to replace the old SPD in your current transactions, but it had been a number of years since the last major overhaul of the form. Although it may seem at first glance that there are many changes to the form, most of the new language you’ll see is a clarification of current questions and not the addition of new ones.
Overall, you will probably first notice a general change to the format. There are instructions at the top of each page reminding sellers (and buyers) that every question should have an answer. We also tried to simplify the parts of the form that created difficulty, such as moving the answer boxes to the right side of the page and rephrasing certain questions.
Because the State Real Estate Commission has requirements of the questions that must be included, there is not much we can change about some of the content. Paragraph 16 of the SPD is often misinterpreted as a list of items that are included with the sale, rather than the identification of problems or repairs it is intended to be, and we received a lot of requests to change the purpose of the paragraph or simply remove it. However, the law requires the disclosure form to ask about any problems that exist with personal property items that may be sold with the property, so we kind of have to ask the question and we certainly can’t remove it.
What we did add was intended to give buyers ample information without being too burdensome to the sellers. Details about repairs and service are now requested, such as the name of the person who performed service or repairs. Questions were also added or modified to bring the parties’ attention to items that may not be able to be sold with the property at all, such as leased solar systems, and systems that may be shared with neighboring properties, such as septic systems or driveways.
There are two brand new paragraphs in the disclosure form, one addressing pools and hot tubs and another for windows and skylights. While the questions on pools and hot tubs obviously won’t apply to every property being sold (but still have to be answered!), the answers are important due to the challenges Pennsylvania weather can present for pool inspections. For most of the year, an outdoor pool is likely to be closed and not visible for a once-over by the buyers, let alone a full professional inspection. While the information on the SPD is not a replacement for a proper inspection, having some basic information about the pool and hot tub will give the buyers some of the information they are missing and assist them in creating an appropriate offer.
You can see the updated SPD for yourself on PARealtors.org. The new form, and others, will be discussed at the upcoming Best of the Hotline webinar on June 21 at 10 a.m. Please plan to attend for more information or send your questions to Desiree Brougher.