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Residential Real Property Disclosure Report

Published on March 29th, 2018

Let the Seller Beware…

I’ve practiced law throughout the State or Illinois for over 28 years; I’ve represented a lot of ordinary people dealing with ordinary problems. Selling you home seems like a situation where everything should go fine since you’ve kept your house up and it nothing needs repair at the moment. Well, unfortunately there is a form you have to fill out which could lead you on the path to the Courthouse. This form is the Residential Real Property Disclosure report form; it is part of every residential real property transaction in Illinois and has been since 1994.            You’ll be asked about everything from whether you’ve occupied the house within the last twelve (12) months to the presence of radon gas in the property and even if there are underground fuel storage tanks.

This can be a nightmare. Say you purchased an older home but it has gas heat. You have no knowledge if you purchased before 1994 if they had oil heat in the past and if the fuel were removed; how do you answer the question? An actual case I handled in Tazewell County, IL around 1995 involved a man who answered the question about leakage in his basement that he was not aware of any leakage problem. When he said that in 1995 there was no leakage problem. Twenty years before the sale he had some leakage and called Roto-rooter and experienced no problems. The buyer moves in the spring of 1995 and immediately experiences a flooded basement and spends nearly Ten Thousand dollars to repair the problem. They sue the seller. After a trail and the Judge acknowledging it is a new statute and the seller answered in good faith entered a judgement for the damages against the seller.

The statute is cataloged as 765 ILCS Section 77/20 meaning Chapter 765 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes Section 77/20. A seller is required to provide the disclosure prior to the sale. Many realtors have the sellers fill out the form so it is in their file to copy when the offer is made. My Tazewell County client did it that way and paid the price. It is a statute that has been in continuous litigation since 1994. Recent cases on it get into how words are defined to hold a seller liable. In Bauer v. Giannis , 359 I11. App 33d 897, (2005) the meaning of “As Is” versus the statute was argued and the seller lost. In Kalkman v. Nedved , 2103 IL. App (3d) 120800 (2013) the definition of the word “wall” was argued by a buyer over defective doors and windows. The seller in Kalkman v. Nedved got lucky and had a fair Judge who applied the plain English of the word and the buyer lost.

If you hope to sell a house or buy a house without suffering a loss; consulting an attorney on any document of legal meaning is your best move.

Thanks for reading,

Joe Sparacino,

Attorney at Law

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