If there was ever a great time to sell a house it’s now! The market is hot, hot, hot, with newly-listed properties often fielding multiple offers, many even above the listing price. But for all the advantages of selling, home sellers must also be aware of their legal disclosure obligations in order to avoid legal issues down the line.
Federal Disclosure Requirements
If you are selling a home that was built prior to 1978, you must comply with the Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992. This law requires the seller to provide the buyer with a disclosure statement regarding any lead-based paint in the house, as well as a specific Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pamphlet. Additionally, buyers must be given the opportunity to test for lead, warnings must be written into the sales contract and signed statements must be obtained from all parties (and kept for three years) that verify legal compliance of all requirements.
Illinois Disclosure Requirements
The Illinois Residential Real Property Disclosure Act was enacted in 1994 to protect home buyers from hidden or unanticipated home defects for up to one year after purchasing a home. The seller must complete this form accurately to the best of their ability and fully disclose any known issues with the following:
- Flooding or leaking in the basement or crawlspace
- Defects in the foundation, roof, ceiling, chimney, walls or floors
- Defects in the electrical, plumbing, well or HVAC systems
- Defects in the septic or disposal system
- Safety of the drinking water
- Whether the property is located in a flood plane
- Presence of unsafe conditions concerning asbestos, lead paint, lead pipes or lead in the soil
- Presence of underground fuel tanks
- Known infestations of termites or wood-boring insects
- Boundary line disputes
- Whether the property is in violation of any laws
- Whether the property has ever been used a methamphetamine lab
- Whether the seller has occupied the property for the past 12 months
It is important for the seller to be honest when completing the disclosures. In fact, if the buyer’s inspection reveals issues that were not initially disclosed, the buyer can legally terminate the sales contract. Additionally, if the sale goes through but the buyer discovers issues after closing, the seller can be held liable for the cost to repair those issues for up to a year after the sale.
The experienced attorneys at Churchill, Quinn, Richtman & Hamilton, Ltd have assisted with thousands of real estate transactions throughout the years. We know what to watch out for and how to keep you legally protected. Whether you are selling your house on your own or with the help of a real estate agent, the disclosure requirements remain the same. Working with one of our qualified attorneys will help ensure that you are in compliance with all applicable laws and avoid legal issues throughout the selling process. If you’ve decided to sell, contact our office at 847-223-1500 and we’ll help you prepare the right way, right from the start.