Defects and Disclosure
You need to understand defects and disclosures before you evaluate the physical condition of the home you want to buy and decide how much you want to pay for it. If you are a seller, you may want to order a pre-sale inspection to help you prepare your house for sale; be aware that you will have to disclose any significant defect that comes up in the report.
Pre-purchase home inspections target two kinds of defects: the kind you can see (a patent defect) and the kind you can't see (a latent defect).
Patent defects are easy to spot: for example, water stains, ceiling cracks, sticky windows or sagging floors are patent defects. Latent defects are more elusive because they may be hidden: for example, faulty plumbing, asbestos ceilings or dry rot.
Some defects are trivial; others are more serious. An inspection can help you decide whether you need to act on the defects you find. Whether you are a buyer or a seller, be sure to work out how all defects will be repaired or paid for during contract negotiations.
Disclosure is when a seller or real estate agent reveals a material fact about the physical condition of a property to a buyer.
A material fact is any information that can affect the price of the home or a buyer's decision to purchase it at all, such as spring flooding in the basement or a highway project that will cut through the neighborhood.
Disclosure laws vary by state and range from voluntary seller disclosure to mandatory seller disclosure questionnaires. All real estate sales in Illinois require seller disclosures, and agents can be held legally responsible for not disclosing a vital piece of information about a property.
Current disclosures in Illinois are:
- Mold Disclosure asking if the seller has ever experienced a mold problem in the house and when it was repaired.
- Lead Based Paint Disclosure stating the age of the house (prior to 1978) in which lead based paint was used in the exterior or interior of the home. This disclosure also gives the buyer a right to have the property tested at their expense.
- Radon Disclosure asking the seller if the property has ever been tested or remediated for radon. This disclosure also gives the buyer a right to have the property tested at their expense.
- Sellers Property Disclosure asks the seller 23 questions about the condition of the property.
All disclosures must be presented to the buyer before a solidified contract is assumed or ratified in Illinois.