Buying - Was The Basement Flooded?

Probably one of the most asked questions when someone buys a single family home. First, the seller of the property is required to fill out this disclosure:

You’ll see the second question of the Illinois Residential Property Disclosure pertains to basements: “Flooding or Recurring Leakage in the Basement”

There are those that are exempt from answering these questions such as banks and estates. Every other seller has to flll this out. There can be legal recourse if the seller is found fraudulent in their answer to this question. This is not an easy case however. The buyer would have to prove that the seller knew about the issue, and that’s difficult to prove if the home was built in the 1950’s and there’s been several owners.

When we show homes, we’re looking for evidence of water intrusion. Staining on wood / dry wall / metal (usually support beams). The smoking gun — drywall stained by the previous presence of water.

The photo above is important. Sometimes we see a beautiful finished basement, then we dig as best as we can and find something like this on the back side of the drywall. Then we ask questions, and if the answer is ‘we don’t know what you’re talking about’, it might be time to move on.

That all being said, if a basement has gotten water in it at some point, this doesn’t always mean it’s a home to avoid. We actually like it when a home seller discloses water issues then provides documentation on how they fixed it. Permaseal and US Waterproofing will guarantee their work and most of the time it’s transferable. Sometimes it’s not the basement’s fault it flooded, sometimes it can be a sump pump that failed and there’s no back up pump / battery system. If there’s ONE basement mystery we’ve seen over the years, this is the top riddle. Why someone would pay $30,000 to finish a basement and not install a $1,000 battery back up system is a true mystery, but we see it often.

There is one person who can tell you if there was an insurance claim on your prospective home: your insurance agent. As real estate agents, we don’t have access to that database. Not everyone makes an insurance claim when they have water intrusion, but if they did your agent should see the claim.

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