No one wants to point out the shortcomings of something they are trying to sell. In the old days, buyers purchased real estate by signing a purchase agreement that stated the buyer was getting the property in “as is” condition or “Caveat Emtor” which is Latin for “Let the buyer beware.”

Since 1994, Illinois has required the seller to complete and sign a form when selling their property known as a Seller’s Disclosure Statement. This form lists every feature of the house and asks the seller to indicate the present known condition of each. Basically, the seller is asked to state “yes” or “no” as to the present known condition of each item listed on the form. The Seller Disclosure Statement is made available to any interested buyer.

If the buyer, acting on the information provided in the disclosure form, buys the house and later determines that the seller was not honest when preparing the form, he or she could have recourse for satisfaction from the seller.

Now that the Seller Disclosure Statement has been explained, do you think this approach is a bad thing for the seller?

I think that it is a good thing for both buyer and seller because it enables the seller to go on record as to his or her present knowledge about the condition of each item in the house. If an item is defective, the buyer can take that into consideration when making an offer. If the seller does not know about the present condition of an item, the buyer knows this and can ask a home inspector for advice.

A seller disclosure statement actually protects both buyer and seller. The buyer knows in advance about the property’s condition and the seller has had the opportunity to state what he or she does and does not know about each item.

ADVICE: List your home with a Realtor. Realtors know about seller disclosure laws and how to abide by them.