The Listing Agreement and Disclosures
When selling your home, you will be signing a listing agreement that will specify the brokerage and agent or Realtor who will be representing you, the length of time your home will be on the market, the asking price for your home, what will be included and excluded from the sale, and the compensation that is to be paid to the broker. It will explain the duties of the broker and the seller and explain the agency relationship between the seller and the broker.
One important section of the listing agreement is the dispute resolution section(section #19). This refers to whether or not the seller agrees to have any disputes that may arise from the transcaction settled by mediation or arbitration instead of going to court. This serves to minimize any expenses that may arise from any dispute between the buyer and seller. Once the seller acknowledges the listing agreement and discosures, the property is ready to be placed on the market.
It's very important when selling your home to disclose to your Realtor everything you have ever done to the home, and any problems that have ever existed with any part of the property. The vast majority of lawsuits that arise out of real estate transcactions are the result of the buyer feeling that something was not told to them about the condition of the property. If the foundation had issues five years ago and you had it replaced, your Realtor needs to make sure the buyer is aware of this. There have been buyers who decided to sue several years after they bought the property because they found out about something that wasn't disclosed to them. One of the biggest duties that your Realtor has is to minimize any chance of you being sued for any reason as a result of the sale. The best way to accomplish this is to make sure your Realtor has you complete ALL of the necessary disclosures so they can be presented to any prospective buyers.
Perhaps the most important of these disclosures is the Transfer Disclosure Statement(TDS). This is where the seller fills out a statement and answers several questions about the condition of the property. The purpose of the statement is to have the seller and the agent disclose ALL material facts about the property. The agent or Realtor is also supposed to fill out a section where they note anything that is visually wrong with the property as well. If the TDS is properly completed, there is very little chance of a buyer claiming they were not informed about some issue with the property.
There are many other disclosures that you will sign before your property goes on the market. These include but are not limited to: transfer disclosure statement (TDS), natural hazard, mold, water heater, smoke detector, insurance, earthquake, lead based paint, megans law(sex offender database) and inspection advisories.