Spooky homes and dark tales abound this time of year. But if your dream of homeownership has suddenly left you seeing ghosts, you may feel like someone played a trick on you. Selling and buying real estate can be complex, and disclosure laws can be equally perplexing. But in Illinois, it is your responsibility as the buyer to find out if the house you wish to buy has a tragic history or spirits luring inside.
What is a Stigmatized House?
A seller in Illinois is required to disclose any physical defects the property may have. The law does not require the seller, listing brokers, or agents to disclose anything that may cause a stigma for the property. Stigmatized homes are those that some people find undesirable because emotionally upsetting events such as murder, suicide, or sexual assault have occurred at the home. Haunted houses fall under the same stigmatized category.
Even though some people refuse to live in these properties and would have never purchased a home that comes with supposed supernatural forces, Illinois law does not require a seller and his or her representatives to disclose the paranormal activity.
Illinois law does require sellers to disclose any physical problems with the home during the sale. The law aims to protect buyers from dishonest sellers. The last thing you want is to find out about costly repairs after signing on the dotted line. If you are buying a house the following should be disclosed by the seller and or agents:
age of the house
condition of the property, such as roof damage, faulty wiring, or mold
whether the house was used to manufacture methamphetamines
information about any lead-based paint or chipped paint in housing built before 1978
Buyers have 10 days to conduct a paint inspection or risk assessment for related hazards. Sellers are required to complete a form answering 23 questions about a wide range of property conditions, everything from bad plumbing to foundation issues. Sellers do not need to disclose defects if they do not have actual knowledge of the problem. Both seller and buyer are required to sign and date the disclosure forms when selling a property.
The Seller Kept Quiet about Some Information
So, you found out from your new neighbors that the seller was not as forthcoming as you had hoped. If that ends up being the case, you have every right to file a lawsuit. You can sue for negligence and misrepresentation on a disclosure form. If the seller makes a false statement or withholds information in the disclosure form, you can hold the seller liable for actual damages, court costs, and attorney’s fees. Even though Illinois is not as strict as other states about disclosing hauntings, keeping some information close to the vest can mean legal trouble for the seller.
Also, keep in mind that during the sale, a contract to purchase a home can be terminated if anyone fails to disclose any major problems with the house, and you are free to walk away.
Contact a Waukegan Real Estate Lawyer
If you have questions about buying or selling your home contact an experienced Lake County real estate attorney at Newland & Newland, LLP. Call 847-549-0000 for a free consultation. At Newland & Newland, LLP we are here to try to make your real estate transaction as smooth as possible.