What is the Importance of the Seller Property Questionnaire (SPQ) in California?

The Seller Property Questionnaire, or SPQ, is a disclosure form that is required under contract to be filled out by the seller in order to alleviate buyer concerns regarding the property being sold.

Sellers of residential real estate (up to four units) are required, by California law, to provide material facts that can influence the buyer’s decision to buy the property. These material facts help the buyer make an informed decision and include many different aspects of the house and its surroundings that can impact the desirability of the property.

Significance of the Disclosure in SPQ

The different kinds of disclosures mentioned in the SPQ attempt to create a better picture for the buyer and safeguard the seller against any potential lawsuits. The information in the SPQ attempts to fill in the lack of information which is contained in the TDS.

Information in the TDS is Limited

The Transfer Disclosure Statement, or TDS, is a document filled out by the seller to highlight what they know about the condition of the property they are selling. It asks specifically for any defects and issues with the property that they can identify. They respond with either a yes or a no.

A yes means that the seller knows of the issues or defects. If they are unaware of the defect, they select a no.

The various sections of the TDS require any additional disclosures to be listed, such as pest reports or insurance claims.

Details of household items such as smoke, carbon monoxide, and burglar alarms; HVAC equipment such as air conditioners and heaters (with proper mounting brackets); water tanks, stoves, and other information is also asked from the seller in the different sections of the TDS.

Additional Information is a Requirement for a Realistic and Informed Decision

The TDS in itself is not enough to know the actual condition of the residential property and is considered to be very minimal. The California Association of Realtors came up with the Seller Property Questionnaire (SPQ) to make up for the lack of information that buyers need for an informed decision.

Since November of 2014, the SPQ has been made a contractual requirement on the seller by the RPA-CA (the California Residential Purchase Agreement), unless there is an exemption from the TDS for the seller.

The seller and the buyer both benefit from the approximately 50 questions in an SPQ. The buyer gains an informed decision, and the seller gains because it becomes hard for the buyer to claim that material facts about the property were withheld.

To download an SPQ, visit the website for the California Association of REALTORS (CAR.org)

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