home for sale

Buying a home is a considerable investment, and by law sellers and their brokers are required to disclose any known defects of problems with the property prior to the conclusion of the sale. The purpose of these disclosures is not to deter the sale, but rather to make it clear to the buyer the known condition of the property and issues they may be required to resolve after sale.

Disclosures have been required in Illinois since the 1970’s, and every year it seems as if they are adding to the list. Just this past February, the Illinois House introduced a bill that would have required sellers to conduct a video inspection and disclose the condition of the sewer lines that snaked beneath their property. As of now, it’s unclear as to whether the legislature will pass this bill, but it’s meeting stiff resistance from realtors who claim the legislation will place an unfair burden on low-income sellers and buyers alike who will be forced to shoulder the burden of the $400 inspections.

Currently, Illinois real estate brokers and sellers are required to disclose the following:

  • Issues that are known to the broker
  • Issues that are latent and could lead to future problems
  • Issues that are material and visible
  • Issues that would not be uncovered during an ordinary inspection
  • Past flooding and current flood risk
  • Unsafe conditions and material defects such as broken stairs, faulty wiring, etc.
  • Municipal code violations such as unapproved additions, easement violations, etc.
  • Environmental issues such as the presence of asbestos and radon

These disclosures must be made prior to the conclusion of the sales contract. It’s important to remember that these disclosures are not a warranty or substitute for inspections. This is an important thing to remember as a buyer should never forego an inspection on any property purchase simply because a seller has issued a disclosure stating there are no problems. Always remember that in Illinois sellers are not required to conduct inspections prior to signing the disclosure forms.

Because real estate disclosures continue to evolve, always consult with a real estate attorney before concluding the purchase of a property. Disclosures protect both buyers and sellers and should never be glossed over; to do so puts a buyer at risk of buying a lemon, and a seller at risk for a lawsuit should a disclosure be proven untrue after a sale is concluded.