using magnifying glass to check a house, real estateThe excitement of home ownership can quickly be dashed if home defects are discovered after the real estate sale has closed, but home buyers may still have legal options. Home sellers in Chicago, Illinois must disclose to potential buyers what they know about the quality, safety, and overall health of the subject property. This includes information about any code violations, past water intrusion, structural defects, and flaws in components and systems. Illinois sellers are not required to complete a disclosure if they have never occupied the property.

Illinois Residential Real Property Disclosure Act

The Illinois Residential Real Property Disclosure Act applies to sales of residential real property. It applies to real estate that is improved with at least one residential structure and up to four dwelling units. The Act also covers individual condominiums and single cooperative units. Buyers and sellers are not allowed to ignore or skip the disclosure requirement, even if the buyer is willing to sign a contract stating that the property is being sold “as is” or the buyer is aware of existing defects. Sellers must answer all questions on the “Residential Real Property Disclosure Report” form.

Legal remedies for buyers if a seller conceals defects

If a homebuyer discovers defects after a sale has closed that should have been disclosed, the buyer can file suit against the seller, the listing real estate agent, the buyer’s agent, and possibly the home inspector. A Chicago real estate lawyer can advise homebuyers on the best course of action based on their specific circumstance. A seller can be liable if he or she fails to disclose a known defect or fails to meet obligations to make repairs as set forth in the purchase contract. According to the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act, brokers involved in the purchase who fail to disclose a known defect or who do not take reasonable steps to confirm the accuracy of information provided to potential buyers may also be held liable.

Compensation amounts

Violations of the Disclosure Act and the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act can result in actual damages. That is the difference in the property value without the defect and the value of the property with the defect. Violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act can also result in punitive damages that punish the guilty party for their intentional deception.