Numerous types of disclosures are required by law in California when one person or entity sells a property to another. The goal of these disclosures is to ensure that buyers are fully aware of the condition and any issues related to a property. While one hopes any seller would be honest, that doesn't always happen. The law ensures that sellers don't try to cover up issues with a property in order to sell it or get a higher price.
Disclosures are usually indicated on boilerplate documents. These documents are templates that make it easy for problems to be disclosed; sellers usually answer the questions in the documents, which ferret out most common issues. If any documents or communications exist about potential defects with the property, the seller might also be required to present them to the buyer prior to any closing.
What has to be disclosed depends on state laws, which can change, making it important to involve experienced professionals in construction and real estate transactions. Some things that might need to be disclosed include previous improvements to the property and how the work was performed. It makes a difference if the work was performed with or without a permit, for example,
Other types of things included in disclosures are problems with termites or infrastructure, historical disputes on the property lines or any defects with major systems within the building. Even if construction or renovation is new, if there are any possible issues, they might have to be disclosed. Non-disclosure of defects can lead to lawsuits or other legal issues even after the sale is final; whatever side of the issue you might be on, working with a construction law professional can help you protect your interests.
Source: Zillow Porchlight, "5 Things You Need to Know About Real Estate Disclosures," Brendon Desimone, accessed March 17, 2017