Many states require the seller of a home to fill out a real estate disclosure statement when transferring the title. The disclosure is designed to reveal any material defects in the home to the new owner. When buying a home, take the time to read the fine print of the disclosure form.
Look for a section that asks the seller to indicate the material defects that exist in the home's major systems. Most forms will specify interior and exterior walls, ceilings, roof, insulation, windows, fences, driveway, sidewalks, floors, doors, foundation, and the electrical and plumbing systems. As the buyer you will want to know of defects in any of these areas.
Sellers are required to note the presence of environmental hazards or zoning violations. They must disclose if there are any encroachments or easements, or walls or fences shared with adjoining landowners. Room additions or repairs made without the necessary permits or not in compliance with building codes must be noted. Sellers must disclose citations or lawsuits against the property. If any such conditions appear on the disclosure form, consult with your real estate agent immediately regarding how to proceed with negotiation.