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Maryland Property Laws You Must Know Before Buying Home

When deciding where to move, you can search lists of the best places in the country to live, or you can opt for a state that seemingly has it all: Maryland. Often referred to as a miniature version of America, this state is home to nearly every natural feature you’ll find across the country (with the exception of deserts) and people from most origins. 

Maryland has a rich history and is one of the nation’s original 13 colonies. In fact, this is where our National Anthem was born, and the Battle of Antietam, a crucial Civil War battle, took place. Though it’s one of the smaller states, it’s packed with beautiful sights and things to do. 

However, if you’re thinking of buying a home in the Old Line State, there are some things you should know. The following information will discuss Maryland property laws you need to understand before buying a home. 

What to Know About Maryland Disclosures

When selling a home in Maryland, the seller can either inform the buyer of current defects and conditions of the house in a disclosure, or they can issue a disclaimer, which essentially sells the house “as is.” It’s vital to understand that even with a disclaimer attached, the seller still has to announce hidden defects that are a danger to the buyer’s health or well-being, such as leaks and asbestos. 

Typically, sellers are more likely to sell a property faster if they offer it with a full disclosure attached. Either way, if you’re in the market to buy a home in Maryland, you should be aware of the information that needs to be disclosed by the seller. 

The first information you should receive explains how long the current owner has either owned or lived in the property and whether or not specific systems such as septic or sewage are in working order. Furthermore, you’ll be provided with information regarding how heating and cooling are supplied to the home, along with other issues that span 19 points. These 19-points of inspection are vital because they provide you with the best idea of the current shape of the home. 

Maryland Property Law 19-Point Disclosures

Foundation

The homeowner will detail whether there have been any foundational issues in the past, such as shifting, cracking, or bowed walls. 

Roof

If there have been prior leaks or signs of moisture present on the home’s roof, you’ll see information regarding this and the type of roofing material used. 

Basement

The disclosure will also include if there have ever been leaks or accumulation of moisture present in the home’s basement. 

Structural Damage

If the home has ever suffered structural damage, such as issues with the exterior walls, the seller is required to disclose it. 

Air Conditioning

Does the HVAC system supply cool air to every room in the home, and does it currently work?

Heating

Much the same, the information will explain if heat is supplied to every room in the house and whether or not the system works. 

Plumbing

If the home has ever experienced plumbing problems or currently has them, this information should be disclosed. 

Electrical

Do any of the outlets, circuit breakers, or wiring have problems? You should also have information about the smoke detectors and whether they’ll work when the power is out.

Water Supply

The seller will note if the property has experienced problems with the main water supply. In addition, they’ll tell you if the home has a fire sprinkler or water treatment system currently installed. 

Insulation

Maryland has cold winters, so a well-insulated home will reduce your heating costs. The seller must disclose any areas where insulation is present such as in the exterior walls, ceiling, etc. 

Septic System

Does the home have a septic system, and when was it last pumped? The homeowner is required to supply this information during a sale. 

Exterior Drainage

The seller’s disclosure in Maryland also has to detail the home’s exterior drainage system and announce if there have ever been issues with this in the past. This information should include instances of standing water present for longer than one day and outline the current condition of the gutters and downspouts. 

Destructive Insects

Another vital piece of information is if the home has ever been infested with wood-destroying insects or sustained previous damage. You should also know about any treatments that have been completed and applicable warranties from pest control companies. 

Building or Zoning Restrictions

You will also find out if the property has nonconforming uses, setback requirements, or zoning violations.

Regulated or Hazardous Materials

The health and safety of your family are paramount. Hence, Maryland property laws require that sellers disclose information relating to the presence of hazardous or regulated materials such as asbestos, radon gas, or lead-based paint. All homes built prior to 1978 must come with a lead-based paint inspection. 

Historic/Wetlands/Flood Zone

When a property for sale is located in areas that are designated historic, wetlands, or flood zones, the seller must inform you. 

Carbon Monoxide

If the home relies on fossil fuels for heating or hot water, a carbon monoxide alarm should be installed. The seller must disclose this so that if one isn’t already present, you can install it before your move-in day. 

Community Associations or HOAs

Is the home part of an HOA community? If so, the seller must disclose this detail, along with all applicable annual or monthly fees. 

Additional Defects

According to Maryland property laws, the final category of information a seller must disclose is whether there are any other physical defects of the home that were not covered by other sections of the information. 

Closing Thoughts

Ultimately, the state of Maryland does better than some at making sellers disclose all key information about a property. So, if you’re looking for a state that features comprehensive property laws that work well to protect buyers and sellers, look no further than Maryland!

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by Sushree Swagatika

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