The Fine Print on Greater Boston Listings

David Bates / June 22, 2012-4:47 pm

Before you set an appointment to see that hot new listing, check out the listing’s “disclosures.” The MLS “Disclosures” section is like “fine print” and generally reveals information that is important to know before getting too excited about potentially viewing or purchasing any property.

The most common disclosures include whether the agent is actually the owner or related to the owner and whether the real estate taxes listed include or exclude a residential exemption. Sometimes common disclosures are conditions regarding the transaction (“See attached escrow agent notification”) or seem rather benign, like “Room measurements are approximate.” Disclosures might also concern a condo association’s pet policy or non-smoking policy. They could even put a buyer on notice that an association is involved in litigation.

Disclosures can giveth a bedroom (used as a 1 bedroom, but designed as a 2 bedroom) or taketh a bedroom away (bedroom does not have closets or windows or is a pass through bedroom).

On new construction listings, the disclosure could let you know that the photos are only representative (taken of a similar property the builder developed) or that the condo fee and taxes are yet to be determined.

Disclosures could also concern the financing necessary to purchase the home. A disclosure in this regard might communicate that the condominium association has low owner occupancy, has one investor who owns a lot of units, or that a large part of the association is commercial space, or even that a home will need a construction loan as opposed to traditional financing.

The disclosure listed could also concern a buyer’s ability to purchase the property at all. There might be a right of first refusal, or the sale is “subject to third party” or even that the sale is contingent on the seller finding suitable housing.

On occasion, a disclosure can be good. A good disclosure might be “Three flat screen TVs come with the condo.” Other times, listing agents reiterate the excellence of the property in the disclosures section, so they disclose “picture perfect home” or “move-in condition.”

Disclosures could concern almost anything and for that reason they are important to know. I recently scoured several thousand Greater Boston MLS listing disclosures. In my next post, I will cover several of the most unusual disclosures I found.