If you are a buyer or seller in Illinois, the disclosures are probably the most financially important part of your transaction. Normally, your Realtor will help you fill this form out as a seller, or help you understand it as a buyer. However, I think a knowledgeable attorney can help you understand this real estate disclosure better. Join me to learn either what to say or what the Seller is trying to communicate.

Below, you will find a copy of the Illinois Residential Real Property Disclosure Report to help follow along.

RESIDENTIAL-REAL-PROPERTY-DISCLOSURE

When Should I File a Real Estate Disclosure?

In Illinois, only the seller of residential real property needs to disclose. Firstly, this means the person disclosing is a Seller as defined by law. So, this means that they are either the owner, the beneficiary of a trust, a corporate representative, or a wholesaler. That means, if someone was never occupying or managing that property, they will not need to file real estate disclosures.

Next, only residential real estate with a single family residence, or up to a four-unit multifamily must fill out that form. But, Sellers of single-unit condominiums must still use the above form.

Also, you will need to fill out that form whenever you sell, exchange, or lease to purchase a property. So, if ownership might change hands, you should disclose!

What Goes into a Real Estate Disclosure ?

The disclosure I included for you above has 23 questions. But, on nearly every property I sell, no more than two of these are ever checked yes. You might ask why? In general, the answer is that you only need to disclose what you personally know. That is to say, I know most of my clients want to be helpful, however you should make sure you limit yourself to only what you know to be true.

So, this is why Sellers answer most questions with “No.” on the disclosures! While the Seller might not know of these defects, many sellers suspect them. You should still hire a licensed inspector to look into any transaction you think about. To be sure, nobody would tell you what is wrong with the used car you are going to buy — why would they tell you what is wrong with the house!

Finally, when a Seller marks an issue as N/A, it means the component is not in the property. Commonly, we will see Number 4, Number 9 and Number 12 marked N/A. Generally, if you see an “N/A,” there is usually nothing to worry about.

What is a Material Defect?

This certain phrase, “material defect,” appears over and over again in the disclosures. According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (IACHI) a material defect is a specific issue with a system or component of residential property that may have a significant, adverse impact on the value of the property or poses an unreasonable risk to people.

So, this means a material defect is a big deal! Generally, a material defect is noticeable, like fraying wires or a broken railing. However, it is not simply that the thing is old or obsolete. Specifically, a material defect must be disclosed because it affects value or safety. If you think of anything like that with your property, you must disclose it!

What if I don’t disclose?

You’ll be in a heap of legal trouble! Illinois law allows a buyer to sue a seller for fraud for actual cost of repairs and all attorneys fees and costs. Any attorney will take these cases because they know they have a blank check to spend on it. This is not something a seller can play fast and loose with.

Conclusion

Some simple tips will keep you safe when you are selling your home. First, be honest with your Realtor about the faults with your home. After all, nothing is perfect. Second, make sure that you work with your team to explain anything on the real estate disclosure that comes up to future buyers. Third, always utilize the attorney review process if you need to clarify something more to your buyer to smooth over the sale. With this in mind, you’ll be a success in no time!