You Are Filled With Questions About Your Divorce, Bankruptcy, or Real Estate Transaction. Get the Answers You Need from a Schaumburg Family Law Attorney!
Going through something as difficult as a major event can leave you filled with questions about the past, present, and what to expect in the future. Get answers to some of the top questions I receive about Illinois law and about my practice specifically to help put your mind at ease.
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At What Point do I need to hire a Real Estate Lawyer?
Do not wait to hire a real estate lawyer! Its not a bad idea to line one up as soon as you know that you are going to be selling your house or buying one. At the very, very latest, you should be hiring your attorney within 24 hours of signing acceptance on your contract (‘the offer’) with a buyer or seller. Most (not all) contracts will only give five days in which to have an attorney review your contract or make changes to it, and within 5 days, the buyer’s lawyer will likely be sending out a letter with their “attorney review” modifications and/ or requests from the property inspection. If you are the seller, your lawyer also needs to get moving on ordering title and other tasks sooner rather than later, to meet your closing date. It is likely, though, that you will have legal questions even before your house is under contract, and since you are paying a flat fee (no hourly charges here), you may as well hire a lawyer as early on in the process as possible so that you can ask questions as they arise.
Feel free to call me at 630 250-8813 with no obligation on your part, just to talk so that I can answer any questions that you may have about the home selling or buying experience - as you get ready to start the process of a real estate closing.
Who will actually be working on my Real Estate case for my closing?
If you hire O'Connor Cadiz Law for your real estate closing. You will work closely and directly with me. I enjoy my job immensely and it is my mission for every case that I take, to handle it personally. I see my clients as people and not just as little bags of money as I hop from one closing to the other. I want to get to know you and see you through the process from start to finish. If you have a question, it is me that you will talk to. If you send an email to my office, it is me who will answer it. That does not mean that I am available 24 hours a day- I am out at closings a lot, as you can imagine, and do have a busy schedule, but I still make myself accessible to clients and their realtors, and I will always be the one to get back to you. Some other lawyers operate the same way, but the overwhelming majority do not. It is just a different business model, and they often will assign someone else (usually a non-lawyer) to your case. Often times these workers are overstressed, overworked, and will sit at their desk all day wearing a headset (I’ve seen it). If you are okay with that, that’s fine- but just know from the outset that you may not always get the attorney you hired to handle the all aspects of your case. You might not even ever speak to them directly until you get to the closing.
Interested in learning more about how I might be able to help you? Give me a call to see if we are a good fit to handle your Chicago area real estate closing. Don't live near Schaumburg or Itasca? It doesn't matter, you don't have to come in to my office. My number is 630 250-8813. Talk to you soon!
Do I have to use the Lawyer that my Realtor Recommends?
No, but you can. First of all, your Realtor should be giving you more than one lawyer’s name. Your Realtor is likely recommending him or her because of good work that he or she has seen come out of their office in the past. That is a good start, but there are other considerations. Is your Realtor recommending them because they are cheap and in turn, thinks that this is what you want or need? Price should be only one consideration, and quite frankly, not the most important- especially since most real estate attorneys charge about the same anyway. Back to your Realtor recommendation, assuming that your Realtor recommends “X” and “Y” lawyers based on service or a relationship or whatever & not just price, this does not mean that his or her personality will match yours or that their style of working is compatible with your service needs. Lots of people prefer to work with lawyers whom they already know who is experienced with real estate closings - or simply someone independent from the Realtor. Your Realtor wants you to be happy and will understand, so don’t worry about ‘offending’ anyone (likewise if you are buying, you don’t have to use the lender that your agent recommends either). At the end of the day, you have to be comfortable with your selection.
Do I really need a Real Estate Lawyer for my Illinois Home Closing? Why does IL use lawyers for Real Estate?
Why Indeed! 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. If they knew what I knew...
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 preventitive meidicine, 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 its 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.
Do I have to go to my Real Estate Closing?
Whether or not you have to go to your real estate closing is going to depend in part, on your lawyer. Also, each state is different and this answer is meant to address only real estate closings in the State of Illinois.
Real Estate Seller attendance at closing
Sellers do not need to come to closing in most instances, provided that their lawyer is willing to act as power of attorney for them at closing. I always give my clients the choice because I know that it is a very busy day for the sellers who are moving and attending to a million other little details necessary to walk out of their home for the last time. Also, for some, it can be an emotional time and sellers would rather not have to attend. The majority of documents that need to be signed can be done in advance at the attorney's office. There are other documents that are signed at the closing table, but if you have signed a power of attorney document so that your lawyer can sign things on your behalf at closing, it can all be taken care of without you being present. Just be sure to ask your real estate lawyer if they are willing to give you this option. If so, arrange a time in advance to come to their office to sign documents and more imporantly, so that everything can be explained to you. It is also a very good idea to pay attention to your cell phone while your closing is going on, in case your attorney needs to reach you. If you are working with a realtor, he or she should be bringing keys, garage door openers, etc to the closing to give to the buyers.
Real Estate Buyer attendance at closing
If you are buying a home, you need to go to the closing. There are some very rare exceptions to this so if you know that you are closing on the purchase of a new home, plan on taking the day off. That being said, dates for real estate closings can change so be sure that you have some flexibility with your employer the week of closing. If you are getting a mortgage, you would need to have your lender's permission to have your documents signed by a power of attorney which is also unlikely to be granted.
As the day of your real estate closing approaches, it is bound to be a stressful time. Don't let the legal aspect cause you undue worry. Give us a call and we will make things as smooth as possible for you in the closing of your house. Congratulations!
How do I determine how much I should sell my house for?
If you are selling your house and are trying to figure out how much money to sell it for, you are asking the wrong question. What you should be asking yourself is how to find the best team of real estate professionals who will help you to maximize profit on the sale of your house while taking the stress out of it for you. Your real estate attorney does not negotiate price for you. While lawyers are trained negotiators, when it comes to the housing market in Illinois, it is actually the realtor's job to negotiate the best price for your home. The right real estate agent for you should know the market in your geographical area, and know it very well. Dealing with home values in your neighborhood is what realtors do day in and day out, and this is why it is best to leave the pricing of your house to them. Neither you nor your attorney should be setting the price of your home. While you are the one who is most familiar with the ameneties, beauties and flaws of your home, your realtor will be able to give you a realistic idea as to what you should list the house for and what amount you should accept. Knowing how to price a home correctly is an art and draws upon the realtor's experience as well as solid data such as "comps", or comprarable recent sales of similar homes in your neighborhood. The realtor will base the asking price on the current market in your area, the size of your house, the amenities, the condition, and so forth. Ask for a range and have your realtor run numbers for you so that you will have an idea as to how much money you are likely to walk away with. Remember, your realtor is earning a commission off of the amount of money that you sell your house for, so it is in his or her best interest to obtain top dollar for you.
Once your realtor has negotiated a price and you have a buyer locked into a contract, the realtor's job is for the most part complete. In Illinos, you will need a real estate attorney to do the rest. To learn about what your real estate attorney will do for you, be sure to request a free copy of our Homeseller's Guide, which also contains handy worksheets to help you figure out how much profit you will make on the sale of your home. Or give us a call at 630 250-8813 and I'd be happy to talk to you about the process.
What's the difference between a property survey and an appraisal?
Sometimes people buying or selling real estate confuse property surveys with appraisals, and vice versa. Different states will use them differently, and this article addresses how property surveys and appraisals are used in Illinois real estate transactions, and the difference between the two.
A property appraisal is a formal report, usually done for the benefit of the bank, stating how much the property is believed to be worth at fair market value. The appraisal takes into account the neighborhood, size and age of the house, amenities, overall condition and so forth. If the property appraises too low, the bank may reconsider giving a mortgage to the buyer. A good real estate attorney will also make sure to protect buyers from over paying for the house in case it appraises lower than the agreed upon price.
A property survey is not ordered by the bank, but is typically ordered by the seller as most Illinois contracts require one for the sale of a single family home. The survey looks like a large blueprint of the land and is used to determine property boundaries. They are used to be sure that there aren’t any legal issues that could come up, for example- if your driveway was partially built onto the neighbor’s property. Surveys also pinpoint exactly where there may be any easements, typically for use by utility companies. Survey issues may affect the marketability of the house. If you are selling your house, I take care of ordering the property survey for you prior to the closing.
Selling a home is more than just an exchange of money for keys. The contract that you signed has many moving parts, placing time bound obligations on both buyer and seller. Give us a call at 630-250-8813 and we can take the worry out of your hands and handle all aspects of the real estate closing for you (except for packing. We’ll leave that to you).
Radon Gas is present in the home we are buying. What should we do?
You've found your dream home and all is well until you learn that the results of your radon inspection are in. The levels are 4.0 or higher, which is considered unsafe. Radon gas is a leading cause of lung cancer and you are understandably frightened. You don't want to live with radon! No one does, which is why there are companies out there whose job it is to remove the radon. Once they fix it ("remediation of radon"), radon levels should go down to almost zero. Home sellers know that nobody is going to buy a house with radon, which is why their attorneys and realtors should be preparing them for the possibility of having to pay for remediation. The reality is that if someone wants to sell their house, they must have it removed! As a buyer, you want to make sure that you have your radon test completed within the contractual time frame, which is usually five days from seller's acceptance of the contract. Extensions of this date may be necessary. If you learn of a radon problem, which is not uncommon, your attorney will ask that it be remediated, before closing, at seller's expense. Your attorney should also be asking that sellers pay for a re-test and present you with evidence that there is no longer a radon problem. This should all happen before closing. In the alternative, if you want to have it done yourself for some reason (usually if there is a time contstraint), you may wish to negotiate a credit of approximately $1,800.00 (Chicago area) so that you can have it taken care of yourself.
Your Realtor has disclosed Dual Agency- do I agree to it?
In the Real Estate world, dual agency means that your Realtor is working both for you and for the person on the other side of the transaction (both buyer and seller). While it is illegal for an attorney to do this in Illinois, it is legal for a Realtor to represent both sides on a real estate deal so long as it is disclosed. Whether or not you should agree to it is really dependent upon your own personal comfort level. You will each have an attorney looking out for your own legal interests, which is not the job of your Realtor. However, some people are uncomfortable knowing that their agent is working both sides of the same transaction because many people tell things to their Realtor in confidence. While in Dual Agency scenarios, the agent owes specific duties to both the buyer and seller, such as not disclosing the confidential information of one party to another- it can create awkward situations and inadvertent mis-steps on the part of the Realtor. The result of dual agency is that the role of the agent may be limited. The agent can no longer help negotiate terms for the sale or the purchase of a home, finding the home seller on their own. In my opinion, this defeats the purpose of having a Realtor. However, if a price was agreed upon before your Realtor comes on the scene or you otherwise have a high level of trust for your Realtor (which you should anyway), you may be more inclined to consent to dual agency.
What is an Attorney Review Period in real estate?
If you are buying or selling a house, you may have heard your realtor talk about an "attorney review period". It is a provision in some contracts that gives the parties the right to have their lawyer look it over after it is signed, and usually- if necessary, allows the person to get out of it or suggest changes to the contract based on the legal advice they receive. Not all contracts have an attorney review provision in it. If you aren't sure if your contract has one, ask- and do it right away as they usually expire in a matter of days.