The following will detail basic requirements and provide references for residential property disclosure requirements for Maryland, DC & Virginia.
If you are buying or selling residential real estate, a seller can either "disclaim" wherein they will state they are not aware that anything is wrong, or fill in a detailed document that conforms to the Maryland Property Disclosure Law, which includes seller input on the following:
- Type of roof & age
- Other Structural Systems, including Exterior Walls and Floors
- Plumbing System
- Heating Systems
- Air Conditioning System
- Electric Systems & Smoke detectors
- Septic Systems
- Water Supply
- Exterior Drainage
- Wood-destroying insects
- Are there any hazardous or regulated materials (including, but not limited to licensed landfills, asbestos, radon gas, lead-based paint, underground storage tanks, or other contamination) on the property?
- If the property relies on the combustion of a fossil fuel for heat, ventilation, hot water, or clothes dryer operation, is a carbon monoxide alarm installed in the property?
- Are there any zone violations, nonconforming uses, violation of building restrictions or setback requirements or any recorded or unrecorded easement, except for utilities, on or affecting the property? If you or a contractor have made improvements to the property, were the required permits pulled from the county or local permitting office?
- Is the property located in a flood zone, conservation area, wetland area, Chesapeake Bay critical area or Designated Historic District?
- Is the property subject to any restriction imposed by a Homeowners Association or any other type of community association?
- Are there any other material defects, including latent defects, affecting the physical condition of the property?
The seller MUST provide a full property disclosure document that lists current condition of all key systems. You can use the list for Maryland and to that include: Fireplace/chimneys, Windows, Damage to property, and if subject to historic property restrictions. More information can be found at the District of Columbia Residential Real Property Seller Disclosures.
Virginia is a true "caveat emptor" state wherein the seller does not need to disclose anything, unless to the seller it is a "known material defect". For detailed information, please visit Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Act. Most residential property transfers are excluded from full disclosure, nevertheless a property disclosure is used wherein the seller can provide known material defects. Most people do not read this form which states that: "owner(s) of the residential real property makes no representations or warranties as to:"
- Adjacent Parcels
- Historic District Ordinance(s)
- Resource Protection Areas
- Sexual Offenders
- Dam Break Inundation Zone(s)
- Stormwater Detention Facilities
- Wastewater System
- Solar Energy Collection Device(s)
- Special Flood Hazard Areas
- Conservation or Other Easements
- Community Development Authority
- No pending enforcement actions on building code
- Located on or near deposits of marine clay
- In EPA Radon zone 1 or 2
- Pipe or plumbing fitting, fixture, solder or flux that does not meet safe drinking water standards
- Existence of defective drywall
- Regulatory status of any impounding structure of dam on the property
Regardless where you buy property, it is important that you invest in the proper research to ensure that you are buying a good property that will serve you for now, and in the future.