By Samantha Fox, Ponderosa Advisors
House Bill 1221, recently signed into Texas law, requires sellers of residential real estate to disclose whether any part of a property is in a groundwater conservation district (GCD) or subsidence district. The law affects all transfers taking place January 1, 2016 or later.
It officially incorporates groundwater as an important component of real property, but the law expressly states that it does not apply “unless the seller has actual knowledge on the date of the notice that the real property is located” in a GCD, and does not “create any duty for any person to investigate to determine if the residential real property is located” in a GCD. So if you simply don’t know, you’re not required to find out.
Sellers are protected from having to do anything extra unless they know whether the property is in a GCD. Then they must disclose, and when they do, this is a welcome protection for the buyer, and it’s also good for the GCD, raising awareness about local groundwater development and protection.
But as always, if the seller doesn’t know something, buyer, beware. By not investigating this for yourself, you could be in for an unwelcome surprise after you close on a property. Five things to know before you purchase:
If property you own is in a GCD, you have an opportunity --and some would say responsibility-- to be informed and involved in its rulemaking and operations. Groundwater districts exist for the protection of shared groundwater, to ensure long-term supply. Local citizens in Texas are involved and put in countless hours to deal with groundwater issues for their districts; local input is extremely valuable to GCDs. If groundwater hasn’t been on your radar, you may be in for some big surprises – some areas of Texas are in dire straits, water-wise. Go to Water Sage Texas for a quick and easy way to access important data and get informed.
Image credit: "Google Street View - Pan-American Trek - Texas suburbia," Kevin Dooley © 2014, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/