What Is a Property Disclosure Statement?

dave-burch-pds

When you decide to sell a property, you will quickly learn that there is quite a bit of paperwork associated with the sale. Among the forms that you’ll be presented with is one called the Property Disclosure Statement (PDS).

So what, exactly, is the purpose of this form that asks you about the history of your property? Do you have to fill it out? What if you don’t have all the answers? Not to worry – I’ve answered these questions (and more) so that you understand exactly what it is you’re filling out.

What is the PDS?

The PDS is a questionnaire covering several aspects of a property. Sellers can answer “yes” or “no” – and sometimes “do not know” or “does not apply” – to a series of questions, which are relatively straightforward.

Questions include things like:

  • Are you aware of any encroachments, unregistered easements, or unregistered rights-of-way?
  • Are you aware of any past or present underground oil storage tank(s) on the premises?
  • To the best of your knowledge, are the exterior walls insulated?
  • Are you aware of any structural problems with the building?
  • Are you aware of any additions or alterations made in the last sixty days?
  • What are condominium fees? What do they include?
  • Are there any restrictions on pets or on renting the property?

Note the wording of these questions: “Are you aware” and “To the best of your knowledge”. For example, if you answer “No” to the second question, you’re saying that you do not know of any underground oil storage tanks that are or have been buried underground on the property – but it is possible that there might be or have been tanks stored that you aren’t aware of.

The PDS provides information to the buyer of the property and serves as a starting point for their due diligence process. It won’t tell them everything they need to know, but it will give them a better picture of the property as a whole.

Different types of properties require different versions of the PDS. For example, there is a separate PDS for stratified properties.

Am I Opening Myself Up to Liability?

As per the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, the PDS is NOT a legally-binding warranty of the property’s condition. However, since it can form part of the contract of purchase and sale, you should fill it out truthfully and to the best of your knowledge. Remember, if you do not know an answer, you can simply initial the “Do not know” box.

Sellers are not required by law to complete the PDS, but many buyers consider a property without a PDS to be a red flag – they wonder what the seller might be hiding.

What If I Don’t Live on the Property?

In Whistler, it is common for owners to have property that they don’t spend much time at – consider an investment property that has been rented out nightly or monthly for years. When this happens, we usually include the PDS, but simply cross out the pages and explain that you do not occupy the property yourself.

I Need Help!

Not sure how to answer some of the questions on the PDS? Need some assistance filling it out? When you hire me to represent you in the sale of your property, I will always take the time to explain each form and provide assistance or clarification as needed. Simply contact me for more information.

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