2014 Disclosure (Form 22W)
Form 22W, the form required in real estate transactions to disclose jet noise, was revised in January 2014 by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) after realtors were advised by the county that they had not met disclosure responsibilities defined by county law for the previous 22 years. It will now be used in all real estate transactions by area realtors and escrow agents. The new form adds the legally required information for buyers and renters to the information for builders that had previously been on the form.
Look carefully at the top and bottom of the new Form 22W that realtors now present to buyers below:
Top of the New Form: Island County Code Section 9.44.050 Disclosure Statement
The information highlighted on the new form below has been required by county law since 1992, but none of it had been included on the forms previously used by realtors since 1993.
You may have noticed the new disclosure does not require an “attached map.” After reading this document when signing escrow papers, buyers would need to leave the escrow office and drive to the county offices to get it.
If they took the risk and signed anyway, they might miss seeing that the home they are buying could be directly under the jets, and possibly less than a mile from the runway where, at that position, they fly at almost full thrust, and at 250-350 feet altitude. That would be worse case scenario, but all noise zone buyers should be able to look at a map to see where their property sits in relation to both the AULT and OLF runways. This draft version of the disclosure should have been revised to include a map.
Unless jets are flying, it is hard to know where they fly. There were 100 property sales in the 98239 noise zone area code during the first six months of 2014 when flights were halted.
Take another look to at the new disclosure and the reference to the map and the paragraph highlighted in pink from the legal 1992 disclosure below. Click to enlarge.
Bottom of the New Form: (Island County Code Section 14.01B.100 Disclosure Statement)
This is the builder’s information that had been used alone on the disclosure form for buyers and renters for 22 years. Click to enlarge
This form will serve as a permanent testament to the disclosure deception. The top shows information buyers did not get; the bottom shows the confusing information they were given. Now they are given both, but the map is still not provided.
Statute of limitations
What should buyers and renters have done when they first noticed the noise was beyond what was in their noise disclosure? Should they have sought legal recourse immediately, or might an extended statute of limitations beyond the four year limit apply?
When first recognizing the full extent of the noise and the effect it would have on their lives, many buyers would have began to research. If they went to the Internet, the most recent Island County Noise Disclosure they would find would have almost exactly the same wording as what they signed. Click to enlarge.
They would not notice it was for builders. They would assume the disclosure they signed was county law. They would notice the NWMLS copyright at the top of their form, showing it was produced by attorneys, and assume it was drafted responsibly. They may not have noticed that maps should have been provided, but were not. Click to enlarge.
If a citizen contacted the Navy about inadequate disclosure, the Navy Liaison would respond with something like the following statement by current Navy Liaison, Jennifer Meyer:
Thank you for your comments and suggestions. While it is true that others have suggested a more strongly worded disclosure statement, many others have used the disclosure notice to investigate further until all their questions were answered prior to purchase. Clearly this is the ideal circumstance and not all homebuyers avail themselves of this information.
This message would be accompanied by the legal 1992 noise disclosure the Navy assumed all buyers and renters received. It was called the “ordinance.” The citizen would think the “ordinance” in the message was the “ordinance” referred to in the form they signed, not the form itself. Total confusion and self-blame would be the result.
If they contacted someone at the county offices about inadequate disclosure, some would be told to move back to where they came from. If they contacted Island County Commissioners, they would be ignored.
As time passed, they would become fully aware that Whidbey Island is primarily a military jet installation support community where civilian rights are ignored and even criticized. They would feel guilty for making the unfortunate decision to purchase a home under the jets and signing a “noise disclosure” they did not understand. How could they understand? It was not intended for them. Trying to adapt, or moving, would seem the only two choices, and the financial, time/energy, and emotional cost of a move is too high for most.
Hundreds of intelligent, educated, diligent buyers and renters have probably done this type of research over the last 21 years to try to find out what went wrong and what their recourse might be. Some were attorneys. The deception was hidden so completely that no one had uncovered the fact that the disclosure used was not what was legally required.
Should this legal research have been pursued even more diligently by buyers and renters before they bought? Or, is there a reasonable expectation that it should have been done by the NWMLS forms committee? Buyers and renters expect legal disclosure from their realtors. Realtors expect the NWMLS attorneys to do the legal research. They carry insurance in case they don’t.
Who will be informed and protected with this new disclosure?
New buyers and renters will not be “fully informed” or protected. Noise at their new home may reach 119+. See the Noise Charts. To compare 100+ decibels disclosed with the possible 119+ reality, on one chart, the difference would be a comparison between a motorcycle and an air raid siren. That would be a surprise no one would want.
Sellers and leasers will not benefit, either. The new disclosure will be frightening in itself. But it will alarm their future buyers and renters enough to warrant thorough investigation of the Growler jet noise on the Internet. In the past, properties could sit until a buyer came along who did not know about the jets. Out-of-town buyers, locals who have not spent enough time in the noise zones, and people too easily tempted by a “great deal” will no longer be dependable prospects for life with the jets.
The injury done by 22 years of non-disclosure can’t be undone with a form. Damage deserves remedy. Do you want to take Action?
If you linked directly into this page, go to the Overview (home page) for an overview of the disclosure deception.