When the time comes to sell your home, you will be asked to fill out a disclosure statement that will list "material facts" about problems you are aware of regarding the condition and history of your home. Both federal and state laws govern what must be disclosed during a property sale and as the homeowner you must be the person to complete these disclosure forms. By law your real estate agent cannot complete these forms for you.
Sometimes, homeowners are told varying policies regarding disclosures. The general rule of thumb is that you must disclose anything that would:
•lower the perceived value of the property
•affect the buyer's decision to purchase
•change the price and/or terms the buyer offers
Common disclosures include information about any natural hazards, fire hazards, pollution problems or zoning changes that affect your property. If you feel like you don't understand the disclosure requirements, you should consult a real estate attorney who knows the local disclosure laws.
As you fill out these forms remember that you should strive to answer all of the questions to the best of your ability. Don't sweat the small stuff, but make sure you disclose everything that you'd want disclosed to you if you were the buyer. If you don't know the answer to a question (such as exact age of the roof if you're not the original owner, etc.) answer "do not know." However, not having precise facts about defects you know exist does not permit you to answer "do not know" to every question. This will always raise a red flag.