Illinois is what is known as an ‘attorney state’ for residential real estate closings. People who buy or sell their home typically hire lawyers to assist them in the process. This surprises people coming from non- attorney states. Sometimes they ask if they really need to have a lawyer for Illinois closings.
This is one of those questions that makes me want to roll my eyes and bang my head against a wall every time I hear it.
Why it is not customary everywhere in the United States to use lawyers to assist in what is usually one’s largest financial transaction, I will never understand. Especially since real estate deals all start out with a contract. Contracts are legally binding documents! They impose obligations on all parties, obligations which people can and do get sued over. Read that sentence again. I guess the best answer that I can come up with is that in some other parts of the country, real estate agents or title agents will ‘practice law’ to a certain extent, or come close to it, and a blind eye is turned towards it. Not here! In other parts, title companies hire lawyers to prepare legal documents. Lawyers get involved once it is too late and folks are running up the courthouse steps. Using a lawyer for your real estate closing not only makes everything run smoother but is like preventive medicine, too.
What Will Probably Happen if you don’t hire a lawyer for your real estate closing in Illinois
Most title companies here, in the Chicago area (& suburbs) will turn sellers away if they don’t have lawyers. Without one, you will quite simply be unprepared to close and your buyer will want blood (or money). Here, sellers’ lawyers typically handle the title work (this is a good thing!) and prepare closing documents, ensuring that everything runs smoothly. Even if you decide not to get a lawyer, there is a 99% chance or greater that the other party will hire one, and you aren’t going to know how to respond to the letters and other legal requests that come your way, so it’s not just the closing that you need to worry about. Its the six weeks or so before that, too. There are may legal obligations placed upon you and what you don’t know can hurt you and cost you money, not to mention stress.
Hiring an attorney for your real estate closing is inexpensive (flat fees are typical) and is money well spent. Your Realtor will agree! Speaking of your Realtor, do not expect him or her to explain your documents to you at closing, they won’t do it, nor should they (nor will the employees of the title company, in fact- the title company will make you sign something saying they did not act as your lawyer). Your realtor probably told you on day one to get an attorney. You don’t have to use who they recommend, by the way.
Looking for an independent real estate attorney to get the job done? Give me a call at 630 250-8813 and I will be happy to get on the phone and answer any questions you have.