The property disclosure statement is a form that allows the seller of a house a convenient way to disclose any latent defects on the property that they know about. It’s sold as a way for sellers to be clear about what they’ve disclosed about a property, and for buyers to know more about a property’s history.
In reality, it was invented by the BC Real Estate Association in 1992 in order to shift some risk off of the agents on to the seller. That’s why your realtor will probably try to push you into it by saying it’s mandatory part of an MLS listing, which it is. However it doesn’t need to contain any actual information so you are free to cross out the questions instead of answering them.
The other argument you might hear is that the PDS can protect the seller by eliminating claims of misrepresentation by the buyer after the sale but this is nonsense. The buyer can still claim misrepresentation based on something that was said to them with or without a PDS in place.
The reason property disclosure statements are dangerous for the seller is because if they are included in the contract they survive the doctrine of merger. In other words, a seller can be sued for what they put in the PDS even after a sale completes because those statements can act as a warranty. So if you guessed on the PDS that the roof is 10 years old when it’s actually 20, the buyer could come back to you after they take possession and find a receipt for the roof in a floor vent. There’s nothing but downside for the seller in filling these things out.
And for the buyers? Well it’s no real advantage either. You can’t rely on the statements because they’re worded as “are you aware” and in the present tense. So if there was a flood 5 years ago but it was repaired, they can say no to the question of whether they are aware of any water damage because there is none at this instant.
In short: If you’re going to fill out the PDS be extremely judicious about it. Limit your disclosure to latent defects (those that can’t easily be found through inspection). Everything else can come back to bite you. If you’re buying, don’t believe anything you read on the property disclosure statement and have everything checked yourself.
Edit: If you want the opposite opinion you can read this article. However outside of some odd analogies that PDS is like an air bag, I don’t see any good reason why it protects a seller. As they say, the seller won in court when sued, but would have not even been sued if they didn’t fill out the PDS.