Selling a Nebraska Home: What Are My Disclosure Obligations?

What a home seller must, and should, disclose to buyers in Nebraska about property defects.

To get the best price for your Nebraska home, you'll need to be aggressive in marketing the property and preparing it for potential buyers. Still, Nebraska law requires that you make certain disclosures to the buyer before the closing. The purpose of these is to reveal various problems with the property that could affect its value or desirability. As counterintuitive as that sounds, it can actually help achieve a smooth sale of the home.

If you're selling your home in the Cornhusker State, what must you disclose to prospective buyers, and when?

Disclosure Laws in Nebraska for Home Sales

Seller disclosures in Nebraska are governed by Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-2,120. That statute says that every Nebraska seller must give the purchaser a "written disclosure statement of the real property's condition." The law applies both to outright sales and to leases with an option to purchase. You must give the disclosure to the buyer on or before the effective date of the purchase contract (most likely the date upon which you both signed it).

Both you and the buyer will sign the disclosure form, as proof that it has been given and received. (Obviously, you should retain a copy for your records.)

What Defects Does the Nebraska Disclosure Statement Cover?

The Nebraska statute is very specific about the information that sellers must disclose to the prospective home buyer. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-2,120-4 says that it must include:

  • the condition of all appliances that are included in the sale and whether they are in working condition
  • the condition of the electrical system
  • the condition of the heating and cooling systems
  • the condition of the water system
  • the condition of the sewer system
  • the condition of all improvements on the property (such as renovations or expansions)
  • any hazardous conditions, including substances, materials, and products that might be an environmental hazard
  • any title conditions affecting the property, including easements, encroachments, and zoning restrictions
  • the utility connections and whether they are public, private, or community, and
  • whether the home has the required carbon monoxide detectors.

The statute put the Nebraska Real Estate Commission in charge of creating the official disclosure form, and the result is available for free online. Per Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-2,120-5, you must complete it to the best of your belief and knowledge.

If any information required by the disclosure statement is unknown to you, you may indicate that on the disclosure statement and still be in full compliance with the statute.

Why Should You Be Honest and Open in Making Disclosures?

You simply want to sell your Nebraska house. All of these disclosures can seem to make life more complicated, since they force you to confront potentially value-diminishing aspects of your property. Why should you be honest in making these disclosures?

First, the statute sets up a clear incentive not to lie. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-2,120-12 states that if a sale occurs without a proper disclosure, the buyer can sue the seller and recover actual damages, court costs, and reasonable attorney's fees.

On top of suing over the statutory violation, the purchaser might be able to sue based on other "causes of action," such as breach of contract or fraud. This alone is a major incentive for sellers to be honest. Fortunately, the statute includes a statute of limitations, limiting lawsuits to within one year from the date that the buyer takes possession of the property.

Second, making disclosures offer a way to make sure the buyer won't balk in the middle of the escrow period after an inspection report turns up "surprises."

And third, the statute protects you from lawsuits over the information that you do disclose. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-2,120-8 says that you won't be legally liable for "any error, inaccuracy, or omission of any information in a disclosure statement" that was not an issue or fact within your personal knowledge.

In other words, if your home had a cracked beam within the wall, but you did actually know about it, then you could not be held liable. Moreover, the statute is clear that your disclosure statement is not any sort of guarantee or warranty to the buyer. Indeed, the statute specifically reminds the buyer that "the statement should not be accepted as a substitute for any inspection or warranty that the purchaser may wish to obtain."

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