At some point during the home buying process in San Francisco, you’ll most likely find a home that you like a lot. As in, you like it so much you could see yourself living there! In San Francisco, in strong seller’s markets, most of our property disclosures are provided to buyers prior to their submission of an offer.
The disclosures are contained in a “Disclosure Package” which contains all of the various disclosure documents (almost always as a PDF file, when I first started they were paper… tons and tons of paper!). This is what people are talking about when they say they are “asking for disclosures” or are advised to “review disclosures prior to making an offer.”
The documents that are contained in a disclosure package vary based on the property type (condo, single family, tenancy-in-common), the type of sale (regular sale, short sale, trust sale, probate sale, bankruptcy sale, etc.), and several other variables (the age of the building, for example, affects whether or not some disclosures are required – examples would be lead-based paint and earthquake hazards disclosures). We are going to walk through a typical disclosure package for a single family home in San Francisco, explaining all of the documents as we go along.
Below is a list of typical disclosure package documents – click on each document to learn more about it.
Disclosure packages generally start with a table of contents that potential buyers are asked to sign. Depending on the property and agents involved, you may be asked to return the entire disclosure package with your signatures, or just the cover page with an agreement to return a fully executed package upon acceptance of your offer.
When thinking about disclosure documents it is often best to think of them as falling into two basic categories:
Property Specific Disclosures and General Disclosures.
The documents that are property specific are often the *most important* documents because they contain information that is specific to the property you are interested in. Documents that are general disclosures may still be important, but provide general information that may or may not apply to the specific home you are interested in purchasing.
While it is important to review all disclosures, if you find yourself with limited time, our advice to clients is typically to always begin by focusing on the *most important* documents first and working outwards.