Understanding the Residential Real Property Disclosure Law
Illinois is one of many states that require sellers to disclose the condition of the property they are selling. If you are selling your residential property in Illinois, you will need to complete the Residential Real Estate Disclosure Report when you list your property.
It is a four-page report containing 23 questions on the condition of the property, including the roof, floors, furnace, electrical, plumbing and foundation, among others. You will also be asked about the known presence of lead paint, radon, asbestos, termites, code violations, property line disputes and several other items.
As a seller, Illinois law requires you to complete this form to the best of your knowledge and explain any items that you mark as “yes” on the form. Realtors are required to ensure that the seller completes this form at the time of listing, but if you are not using a realtor when selling your property, you still need to complete the disclosure.
This law applies to any residential property containing one to four units, including condos and manufactured homes. There are several exceptions to this law for some sellers – for example, transfers of an estate, transfers due to a court decision, or the transfer of new construction that has never been occupied.
Once the disclosure is complete, if there is a change to any of the items listed on the form, the seller is required to update that item. For example, if your house has been listed for two months and you get water in your basement that you have never had before, you will need to update your return to reflect this change.
Until you close the property, any changes from the original property disclosure responses will need to be updated by the seller. As the seller, you are not required to hire inspectors to check the condition of the property, but you are required to disclose any defects that you are actually aware of that have not been corrected.
If you knowingly withhold information about a defect, you could be sued by a buyer for fraud or misrepresentation. If you do not understand how to complete the report, you should seek the advice of a lawyer. As real estate agents, we are not authorized to advise sellers on how to complete the Property Disclosure Report.
When a buyer makes an offer on your property, they will receive a copy of the Residential Real Estate Disclosure Report that the seller has completed for signing. The form must be available to the buyer at the time of writing the offer. If the report is not available to the buyer, the buyer will have the opportunity to cancel the offer upon receipt of the disclosure of ownership if it contains the disclosure of a material defect.
A buyer should not use the disclosure of residential real estate as a substitute for inspections that he may choose to have to check the condition of the property. A seller is only required to disclose defects of which he is actually aware. A buyer should therefore hire their own inspectors to find out anything that may be an unknown material defect.
The Residential Real Property Disclosure Act (765 ILCS 77/35) is the law of Illinois and is used to provide information to a potential buyer about the condition of the property they are proposing to buy. Completing the report honestly and thoroughly is the seller’s responsibility and creates legal obligations on their part, so it is wise to consult a lawyer if you have any questions.
Don’t forget to change your clocks, jump ahead!
Anne Sadler is the Designated Broker Manager / Owner of Choice Realty in Freeport.