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I represent clients buying and selling:
- Apartment Buildings
- Commercial Properties
- Investment Properties
The route to a successful closing varies for buyers and sellers. A basic road map for each side follows.
A lawyers most important function is to advocate for his or her client and to provide independent counsel if questions or problems arise. Certain Chicago area Realtors are attempting to eliminate independent lawyers from the closing process. These brokers offer to take care of the administrative functions of a closing by offering title insurance from affiliate agencies, mortgage loans through affiliate lenders and "staff" lawyers to draft closing documents. These legal scriveners may be able to assemble the documents, but in the final analysis, they very likely have a greater interest in supporting the real estate offices that employ themthan they do to a one time buyer or seller and as such they simply cannot be relied upon to represent a buyer or seller's interests over the interests of an agent in line to earn a commission on a sale.. In my view, too much of your money is at risk to forgo independent legal counsel.
Most home sellers retain a professional agent to help them market their property to potential buyers, to ready it for sale, and to show the home at open houses or private showings. Agents also help with contract negotiations and related matters. Agents may represent the seller exclusively or they may be "dual agents," thereby representing the interests on both sides of the deal. As with any other member of the team, the agent should be selected with care, so as to find a representative who is professionally competent, personable and dedicated to serve the client's needs.
Agents are typically paid a negotiated commission stated as a percentage of the sales price. A new trend in the industry involves an "a la carte" approach to agent compensation. whereby a seller pays the agent a set fee for a listing on the local multiple listing serve, another fee to host an open house, or to run an ad in the Sunday newspaper.
A real estate agents may be granted exclusive or non-exclusive listing privileges, for a set or an open amount of time. Whatever the arrangement with your agent, all the terms of the engagement should be stated in a formal, written listing agreement.
Your lawyer should be willing and available to you to review - perhaps even negotiate - your listing agreement.
Other sellers take the rugged independent approach and market their homes "For Sale by Owner" (FSBO). The obvious advantage is the elimination of some or all of the brokerage commission (depending on whether or not the buyer is brought to you by a "buyer's agent"). By the same token, the obvious shortcoming of this approach is the absence of a trained professional's help in finding the right buyer and setting an appropriate sales price.
By convention, a buyer will approach a seller with a written offer to purchase. that can be accepted, rejected or modified (a counter-offer). Real estate contracts require both parties to sign a written agreement that must at least describe the parties, the price, and a description of the property. Real Estate agents may be helpful in providing a form contract and may give help "filling in the blanks." SINCE THIS IS A CRITICAL & BINDING DOCUMENT, review by a lawyer is strongly recommended. Many form contracts allow the lawyers a prescribed number of days to review a contract after the sale date. If the contract does not provide for an attorney review, caution is urged and a lawyer should probably take a look before you sign on the dotted line.
Buyers typically ask for time to have a home inspector look the property over after the contract has been signed. . Many times, they ask for repairs, credits, or even cancelation of the contract based on the inspection. Your real estate agent and lawyer should help you evaluate the issues raised and may help you negotiate the resolution of these items.
Once the preliminary contract contingencies are completed, sellers must assemble the documents and assurances called for in the contract to ready the sale for closing. This may include ordering title insurance, surveys, condominium documents, mortgage loan pay-off statements, transfer tax declarations and stamps, and the drafting of the deed and other conveyance documents. In the Chicago area, a lawyer is almost always required to accomplish these tasks..
Closings typically take 45 minutes to two hours these days. Sellers can almost always avoid having to attend the closings if the appropriate papers are prepared and signed in advance and a lawyer is engaged to represent the sellers. Every seller is welcome to attend closing, but I am happy to spare my clients the necessity of so doing.
By convention, a buyer who has selected a home to "bid" on approaches the seller with an offer to purchase. The seller can of course accept, reject or modify (counter-offer) the proposal. Nothing is final or enforceable until both sides sign a written agreement that states the names of the parties, the price and a description of the property. Usually buyer's Real Estate agents provide a form contract and help "fill in the blanks" for an offer and they typically help negotiate a compromise when the offer is countered. HOWEVER, SINCE THIS IS A CRITICAL& BINDING DOCUMENT, review by a lawyer is strongly recommended. Many form contracts allow the lawyers a prescribed number of days to review a contract after the contract has been signed. If the contract does not provide for an attorney review, caution is urged and a lawyer should probably take a look before you sign on the dotted line. If you are buying without an agent, or if your agent will not help prepare a contract, consider asking your lawyer to help draft the proper form. I AM PLEASED TO PROVIDE THIS SERVICE FOR A NOMINAL SURCHARGE.
Not every home buyer has the ability to test a home's mechanical systems or evaluate a structure's construction/condition. Every buyer wants some assurance that the property is in good condition, or at least wants some idea of what he/she is getting into. Buyers typically accomplish this by employing a home inspector to report on the property condition. If the property is not up to standard, buyers may be able to avoid the contract. Otherwise, buyers may be able to ask for repairs or credits to allow for problems that are discovered. Your real estate agent and lawyer should help you evaluate the issues raised and may help you negotiate the resolution of these items.
Buyers usually have other concerns or contingencies as they prepare for closing. Most contracts allow a set amount of time to arrange for mortgage financing, and allow an escape if the lender fails to commit to making a loan. This is a time-critical deadline, and if there is a denial or delay of the loan the buyer must be careful to protect his/her rights with a proper notice to the seller. A diligent lawyer can be helpful in resolving problems before they occur, and where necessary, may be able to secure additional time to get the loan.
Buyers may have to take steps to sell another property in order to buy the intended home. Again, a lawyer can help arrange the timing and other logistics of dual closings, or if necessary, cancel the deal before a buyer gets stuck.Just as there may be more than one way to skin a cat, there are certainly several different ways for people to take title to real estate. As closing nears, the buyer or buyers should take time to select the manner of title that is most to their advantage. Competent legal counsel can help in this process as well.
Buyers are required to sign masses of paper to complete mortgage loan and purchase transactions. These forms should be reviewed for accuracy at (or before) closing and problems should be resolved before the purchase price is paid. A lawyer's help can be critical so that buyers know exactly what , and why, they are signing so many forms.
Buyers are entitled to many different forms of assurance that the money they are paying gets them exactly what they intended to buy. Such assurances take many different forms, from affidavits to title insurance,. to surveys to condominium declarations. The buyer's lawyer is responsible to the client to make sure that all of the assurances are given and are in acceptable form.
After closing, the buyer's lawyer should help assure that the deed is recorded properly and that all post-closing recordings and agreements are followed..