In legal terms a declarant is an individual or entity that makes and signs a written declaration. Declarations are usually signed under "penalty of perjury" pursuant to the laws of the state where they were made. Pursuant means that the declaration is subject to the state’s applicable laws.
You Can Be the Declarant
The declarant could be you if you're signing a statement listing your income and assets to qualify for a loan. It could be a seller who's pledging that his property is habitable and has no liens or back taxes owed. It could be the real estate agent who's revealing his fees and commissions. It could also be a title company that is declaring the title to the property to be free and clear. When associated with a planned development or condominium, a declarant is the usually the developer who sets conditions on the sale and use of a property.
Recognize Declarants as Red Flags
Although several declarants can be involved in a real estate transaction, you never want to come across the term in any real estate dealing. If you do, it probably means civil litigation or some other legal conflict is pending. During negotiations and at closing, participants are known by their actions —buyers, sellers, agents and lenders. The term "declarant" usually only comes up when a dispute arises or when a signed statement is subject to examination by the authorities.
Avoid Perjury Problems
When you sign a real estate document you'll see a dire warning in fine print somewhere near the signature line. The language is specific and dictated by state or federal law. It reads something like this: "I swear under penalty of perjury that the above statement is true and correct to the best of my knowledge." Be aware that when you sign a "perjury statement," you are promising that your declaration is true and you have established yourself as the legal declarant.
Know Real Estate Transfer Declarations
Some states require a real estate transfer declaration form when a property is sold, in part because they want to know who to send the tax bill to. While these forms vary from state to state, they typically require the property’s address and some details of the sale. For example, whether a real estate agent was involved, whether it was a short sale or sale in lieu of foreclosure. Some cities and counties also require a real estate declaration form when property changes hands. Most of these forms can be found online. Your real estate agent or title company should know and provide what’s required.
Read the Fine Print
The term declarant also arises when any paperwork is filed with the government. This could mean an application for transfer of title, filing property tax statements or a signed statement to an assessor. It is vitally important to read the perjury statement or other fine print near the signature line. It may contain conditions and rules that don't appear in the body of the document. And even though you may be identified as a buyer, seller, agent or representative on a signed statement, the act of signing it makes you the legal declarant.
- Ward and Smith, PA: How to Determine Identity of the Declarant
- Legal Dictionary: declarant
- Real Estate Transfer Tax – Individuals, Title Companies and Settlement Agencies
- Douglas County Assessor’s Office Colorado: Real Property Transfer Declarations
- CA.gov California Department of Real Estate: Forms, Declaration
- David Sacks/Lifesize/Getty Images
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