So, Thursday evening, I was relaxing on the sidewalk patio in Shirlington at the Capitol City Brewery (a local watering hole) with a few fellow REALTORS. One of my friends asked the waiter whether it was still Happy Hour, to which he replied, "No, sorry. Happy Hour ended at 7 p.m. It's now 7:45."
Okay. No harm. Cathy orders a pomegranate margarita, Nancy gets a glass of wine, I order a beer. At the end of the evening we get the bill. Cathy's margarita's were $10 a pop, the wine $6.50... my beers... 2 bucks. Wait a second, mister, I thought it wasn't happy hour. Yes, that's what we all were thinking and Cathy was a bit upset at having ordered her drinks when she could have had the beers for $2.
When our server came back we questioned him.
"We thought you said it wasn't happy hour. What's with the $2 beers?"
"No, it's not happy hour, but we have $2 beer special all night on Thursday."
"Well you didn't tell us that!"
"You didn't ask."
Being REALTORS, we discussed this among ourselves and compared it to real estate. We all felt that he should have properly disclosed that there was a $2 beer special upfront when we were ordering.
All of this begs the question:
When is Something a Material Fact that a Real Estate Agent Must Disclose in a Virginia Real Estate Transaction?
First, as regards to what a seller must disclose in a transaction, read the following:
Virginia has the Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Act which imposes property disclosure obligations on sellers and real estate licensees. In addition, under agency duties, a real estate agent must disclose material facts about the property and/or the transaction.
According to Virginia law, real estate agents must disclose all known material facts related to the property or concerning the transaction of which the agent has actual knowledge.
Agents representing sellers must disclose to prospective buyers all material adverse facts pertaining to the physical condition of the property which are actually known by the agent. This refers to the physical condition of the land and any improvements on the land and does not refer to:
matters outside the boundaries of the land or relating to adjacent properties
matters relating to governmental land use regulations
matters relating to highways or public streets
Here's a partial list of material facts that an agent must disclose if they are aware of these conditions:
inaccurate representation of lot or improvement size
problems with structural items
encroachments or easements affecting use
adverse land and soil conditions
problems with conditions of appliances
potentially uninsurable property
problems with condition of electrical or plumbing systems
existense of environmental hazards
Notice above that the material facts disclosures relate to the physical condition of the property. One thing that is specifically exempt from disclosure in Virginia is what's called a "Stigmatized Property" This is a property in which an event or condition occurred such as murder, suicide, or even haunting by ghosts, but it does not affect the physical nature of the property. In Virginia, there is no requirement to inspect for, investigate, disclose, or otherwise verify whether a property is stigmatized.
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