In Real Estate, what are Material Facts?

Malcolm Tatum

When used in real estate circles, the term material facts refers to information that is likely to play an important role in determining the decisions made by a buyer or seller. The scope of this type of data usually has to do with some physical aspect of the property that is under consideration. The information may also include the average amount of property taxes that are paid on the property each year, or the existence of some type of debt that is secured using the property as collateral. In many jurisdictions around the world, failure to reveal material facts can be grounds for declaring the sale of a property null and void.

In some areas, finished basements are material facts.
In some areas, finished basements are material facts.

One of the more common examples of material facts is the disclosure of some type of damage to the property. For example, if a recent hailstorm damaged the roof, it is the responsibility of the current owner to provide that fact to the realtor, who in turn is responsible for providing that information to prospective buyers. To make sure there is no miscommunication on the condition of the roof, the data is provided in written form. The same general approach would be used to make potential buyers aware of such issues as the need to replace plumbing fixtures, window casings, or settling that has affected the structural integrity of the dwelling.

Issues with the structural integrity of a home must be disclosed as material facts.
Issues with the structural integrity of a home must be disclosed as material facts.

Along with structural issues with the property, general information about characteristics of the structure is also considered to be material facts. This would include such matters as the total amount of square footage contained in the home, as well as the amount of land that is included in the sale. In some areas, data of this type may also include information on the number of bathrooms, finished basement or attic space, and even the total number of windows that are found in the structure.

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Material facts also include any information regarding the assessment of taxes on the property. Generally, owners are required to provide documentation that confirms the average amount of property taxes that are assessed on the real estate each year. Often, there is also a requirement to confirm that the current taxes due have been paid in full. If there is any type of lien that could negatively impact the ability of the owner to sell the property, this information should also be supplied to the realtor and any prospective buyers.

When considering any type of real estate deal, buyers should make every effort to insure they have all the data necessary to make an informed decision before agreeing to any purchase. This means looking closely at the documents provided by the owner and realtor. In addition, the prospective buyer should also check local records to make sure the title to the property is free and clear, and that there are no irregularities in regard to municipal records relating to the size, location, and zoning for the property.

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