When I started selling Naperville real estate in 1982, all homes were purchased with the understanding that they were being purchased “as is.” This was referred to as “caveat emptor” which is Latin for “let the buyer beware.” In simple English, this phrase meant that if the house had problems, the buyer assumed the responsibility for those problems and had no recourse to the seller. This is no longer the case.
The State of Illinois adopted a new law in 1994 where sellers must fill out and sign a document called, “Residential Real Property Report.” This form lists every facet of the property and the seller must indicate if each feature is in good working order or in need of repair. If an item is in need of repair or has a material defect and the seller does not acknowledge this fact, they could be held liable for falsifying this document. If repairs are needed, it would be best to fix needed items in advance so the disclosure form can be completed accurately and anything repaired would not require notification. This prevents a potential buyer from dismissing a property that needs too much work.
Most buyers will exercise their right to complete a home inspection and radon gas test of the house by a licensed home inspector before completing the purchase. If the inspection reveals any issues, the buyer may choose to terminate the purchase. Keep in mind that the home inspection clause was never intended to be a negotiating tool. It was designed as a protection tool to prevent the buyer from buying a money pit. Our current sales agreement clearly states that everything mechanical will be in working order at the time of closing. If something is discovered as not working by the inspector, the seller should make it right by either fixing it or giving the buyer a credit so they can either fix it themselves or apply the credit towards replacement or upgrade. On the other hand, the buyer needs to understand that if they are purchasing an existing home, they are not buying a “new” home. In that regard, the contract states that if the item still serves the purpose for which it was intended, then the buyer is to deem it acceptable. For example, if the roof is worn, but does not leak, it still serves the purpose for which it was intended. There is a “happy medium” where both seller and buyer will end up with a successful contract and closing.
ADVICE: If you plan on selling your home, engage the services of an experienced Realtor who can guide you through these factors and many others, and on to a successful sale.