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VOL. 43 | NO. 47 | Friday, November 22, 2019

Tennessee disclosure form remains a work in progress

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The Tennessee Residential Property Disclosure was designed as a safety net for homebuyers and a lawsuit deflector for sellers. Several years and many versions and revisions later, it is almost both of these.

Written and implemented by the Tennessee Realtors, formerly the Tennessee Association of Realtors, lest anyone think all the Realtors in Tennessee weighed in on the verbiage of the document, it has forced its way into all transactions performed by Realtors in Tennessee.

One of the questions on the hallowed disclosure reads: “Is the property serviced by a fire department?” Others questions have to do with septic tanks and injection wells.

In the past, the disclosure required the seller to disclose the age of the HVAC system. That was dropped since because many residents had new HVAC units installed that were stamped with a manufacturing date from a previous year. Perhaps the HVAC contractor held the system in inventory before installing.

This discrepancy led to many a fracas. Now, there is no documentation sought on the disclosure as to age.

One section reads thusly: “Flooding, drainage or grading problems” followed by the yes or no box selections. While most homeowners feel they do not have problems, most inspectors feel that those sellers do have issues. Many are required to remove plantings that are too close to the houses, and others to regrade their yards.

If owners disclose they have a fireplace, unless otherwise noted, said fireplaces are supposed to be in good working order. That can cost $7,500 or more per fireplace. Unless sellers want their money to go up in smoke, they should seek advice on fireplace disclosure.

Sale of the Week

Sylvan Park was East Nashville before East Nashville was, at least in the vibe category. It was Nashville’s first hub for the pack later dubbed cultural creatives. There were rumblings of these creatures nestling in Hillsboro Village until the real estate values in the area skyrocketed and they migrated into the Park.

118 38th Avenue North

Before the tornado of 1998, the neighborhood was on the move with renovators flocking to the area in order to flip houses before the term was popular. After descending upon Sylvan Park, the tornado followed Charlotte Park into downtown before skipping over the river into East Nashville where it devoured enough trees to qualify as a forest. It also seemed to swallow every roof in the East.

Like its eastern neighbor, many streets in Sylvan Park were left roofless. Landscapes lay naked for the world to see. Although the neighborhood was less sylvan than before, insurance money began flowing in, home improvements increased and the area was soon discovered by homebuyers.

In August 2002, the unthinkable occurred when a home sold for $420,000, an unheard-of $123 per square foot. At the same time, homes in the Belle Meade Highlands, the Belle Meade Courts and the Belle Meade Links were going for $146 to $166 per square foot.

Last week, 118 38th Avenue North sold for $880,000, a mere $256 per square foot. In 2008, the same house was purchased for $580,000, or $181 per square foot.

The loquacious Rae Thomas of the Wilson Group listed the home. That’s not unusual for Sylvan Park since most real estate historians credit the late Hal Wilson, founder of the Wilson Group, with nudging Sylvan Park into popularity. He was the Wilson Group at one point.

Tax records have the home listed as having 3,120 per square foot. In 2008, the previous listing agent clocked the home in at 3,196 square feet. Rae Thomas, an agent well-known for accuracy, had it listed as 3,436 square feet when she sold it.

At $256 per square foot, the 316-square-foot discrepancy would equate to $80,896. Could one of the sellers be pulling the buyer’s leg when it comes to the feet?

As much as buyers like to think sellers are liars, it is usually not the case. More than likely, the builder took a set of plans and noted the square footage to be 3,120 square feet. In many cases, houses grow during construction. That explains the extra 76 feet from the tax records to the first listing. So, what about the next 240 square feet?

Since square footage is of great importance, listing agent Thomas had the house measured by a professional who found 3,436 square feet. In her remarks, Thomas noted there is a solarium.

There was no solarium in the original listing. That room measures 12 feet by 18 feet on the interior.

However, the square footages of homes are made using exterior measurements. A two by four is, of course, 3.5 inches wide. Add an exterior covering and some drywall and you might get an additional 6.5 inches on each side, making the exterior dimensions 13 by 19, or 247 square feet. Elementary, my dear Watson.

Richard Courtney is a licensed real estate broker with Fridrich and Clark Realty and can be reached at

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