Condo buyers – ask for the property report

In the late 1970s, when condomania was sweeping Chicago, the city responded with an ordinance protecting prospective condominium purchasers from perceived abuses.

One of the more important protections required developers to provide prospective condo buyers with detailed disclosures concerning the property, the sales documents, and the parties involved in the development.

Chapter 13-72 of the City of Chicago Municipal Code requires that a “property report” be made available to prospective purchasers of condominium developments, new and converted, of more than 6 units. Chapter 13-72-020 spells out the contents of the property report in detail. It’s worth a read.

Among other items, the property report must include the identity of the developers, any litigation concerning the property, an itemized budget for the property and the estimated assessment for each unit, and copies of the condo declaration and by-laws and the sales documents a prospective purchaser will be required to sign.

Reading the property report is the best way to understand what you’re buying and the terms on which you’re buying it.

I’ve heard that some developments refuse access to the property report until the time a contract is signed. That’s a clear violation of the ordinance, which requires that the property report be available when a development first offers units for sale, and requires that the property report be made available to anyone who asks for it, regardless of whether they have any intention of purchasing a unit. A developer is allowed to charge up to $2 for providing a copy of the report.

If you’re refused a copy of the property report when you request it, you’ve learned something important, i.e. the developer is not a stickler for complying with the law. Proceed with caution.

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