If a member of your family contracted COVID-19 and you plan to sell your home in the future, you may be wondering what to do before you begin allowing prospective buyers to come for viewings and whether you have to disclose the infection. Rules vary by state and sometimes by city or county.
Clean and Disinfect Before Inviting People In
Don’t allow any prospective buyers into your home until your family member has recovered and you are sure that your entire family is healthy, to avoid exposing buyers and their real estate agents to the virus. You should also take steps to eliminate the virus from any surfaces that potential buyers and agents might touch.
COVID-19 can be spread when an infected person touches a commonly used surface and then another person touches it. Medical experts have found that the virus can remain on different surfaces for varying amounts of time. Disinfect using products that contain bleach, alcohol or another ingredient that can kill the virus. Focus on commonly touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, stair railings and countertops.
Do You Need to Disclose a COVID-19 Infection?
A person selling a home is required to disclose information that could have a negative effect on a property’s value or that could influence an interested party’s decision on whether to buy the house. Laws on what must be disclosed vary by state and sometimes from one city or county to another.
You may be required to disclose physical defects, such as a cracked foundation, and health hazards, such as mold and asbestos. In some areas, sellers are required to disclose nuisances, such as noise and unpleasant odors. You may be obligated to inform a potential buyer if the house has ever experienced water damage or a leak involving a toxic substance.
In some areas, a seller is required to disclose a death that occurred on the property. Some states and localities only require sellers to disclose deaths caused by violent crimes, while others require disclosure of deaths related to accidents and suicides.
If a family member passed away in your home due to COVID-19, or contracted the virus and survived, you may not be legally required to disclose that information, but your real estate agent might advise you to do so anyway. If you didn’t disclose information on a coronavirus infection, a potential buyer could find out from a neighbor or another source and decide to walk away even if the person and his or her family wouldn’t be at risk of contracting the virus themselves.
Talk to Your Real Estate Agent
In the wake of the coronavirus, state and local governments have been issuing a series of new guidelines affecting all aspects of life. If a member of your family has had the virus and you have questions about how that could affect your plans to sell your home, discuss the matter with your real estate agent.