Real estate disclosures come with many questions for both a buyer and seller. Our rule of thumb? Be as open and honest as possible. In our latest post, we will cover what you need to disclose by law.
Being an open and honest seller will not only help you avoid a lawsuit, but it will also make you a trustworthy, stand-up, all-around person. Hiding defects, looming repairs, and any other issues with the home will only come back to bite you in the end. Whether through a lawsuit or good ol’ karma… if you believe in that sort of thing.
Most real estate lawsuits occur because of non-disclosure.
So exactly how much are you required to disclose legally? Basically, anything that can affect the value of the property. Here are just a few of the things you should address:
- Issues with the land, such as drainage, bad soil, and potential for flooding. Bad soil can limit building and low-lying areas can be prone to flooding and water damage.
- Foundation level and known cracks must be disclosed. If the house settles more than it already has, it could experience structural damage.
- Plumbing problems, sewer issues, and leaky pipes all need to be brought to the forefront. Some of the most expensive home repairs stem from water damage.
- Any problems or irregularities with the heating and cooling systems should be addressed.
- If you have a problem with cockroaches, rats, ants, termites or moles, you will need to inform your potential buyer.
- Have a leaky roof or missing shingles? Tell your buyer before they find out during a rainstorm.
- Lead paint is a no-brainer. This disclosure is one of the most common you will see with home sales and rentals.
- Are there issues that will affect the title? Or rightful ownership? This needs to be spelled out up front, not during the closing process.
- You should also have documentation for repairs and insurance claims you’ve made in the past. You should be able to describe what was done and the materials used.
Additionally, some states will require more in-depth disclosure of hazard zones which include flooding, earthquakes and other environmental factors affecting the land. Some states will also require any violent crimes committed in the home be common knowledge. Not every state requires this, but it is a good rule of thumb to follow. Think about what you would want to know if you were buying a home for yourself!
Disclosures help a buyer learn as much as possible about a house before making their purchase.
It is your legal obligation as a seller to inform the buyer of specific defects in the overall condition of the property. If you choose to not disclose a defect with the house you are trying to sell odds are that the issue will come up during the home inspection that the buyer will perform. Many inspections have caused buyers to walk away from a purchase and you are only increasing your chances of losing a buyer by not disclosing the defects of the property up front. Many home sellers will hire a home inspector to do a full inspection before they list their property so that they can take care of any required repairs before even listing their property.
Disclosure requirements will vary by location so in IL you can rely on your real estate broker to help provide you with the appropriate documentation. The standard IL disclosure form will provide a list of 22 specific line items to outline the overall condition of the property for sale. IL will also require you to complete additional disclosure documentation in regards to radon and lead based paint for the property. Make sure you are working with a trusted professional to help guide you through real estate disclosures.