Residential Real Estate Transactions

Are you buying or selling a home in Illinois? If so, you may be asking yourself, do I really need a lawyer?  It is possible you are being told you do not need a lawyer. If you are being told by your Realtor, Lender, Builder or any other real estate “professional” that you do not need to use a lawyer it should be a huge red flag! The truth is, a lawyer is literally the only person you can hire that is ethically obligated to represent your best interests even if that means advising you to terminate the transaction. Anyone telling you that you do not need an attorney probably has their best interests in mind rather than yours.  Purchasing and/or selling real estate will likely be at the top of the list of the biggest financial decisions that you will make in your entire lifetime. Of all the fees and charges associated with buying and selling real estate, a typical flat fee charged by a real estate lawyer is likely one of the lowest costs associated with the transaction. It is money well spent and I often realize I save my clients more money than the cost of my flat fee. Hiring an informed and knowledgeable real estate attorney can ensure that you do not run into major problems that could cost you thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in the future or even worse yet, potentially losing your home.  You should also be aware that not every real estate lawyer offers the same level of service or charges the same fees. You should make sure you understand exactly what services the attorney will provide and how much you will be charged. The Law Offices of Brian M. Radke, PC makes this crystal clear from the outset as we send a detailed attorney engagement letter that outlines the terms of representation as well as our fee. Fees can range due to the length and complexity of the transaction, however, we can nearly always quote a flat fee prior to being formally retained as your attorney for a specific transaction.

Seller Services:

Services offered to Home Sellers:

  1. Contract review and modification – Most sale contracts in Illinois include an attorney review period that allows the attorney a certain amount of days to review the contract and propose modifications. This allows for known and unknown errors to be corrected and allows the attorney to ask for additional protections that may not be included in the form sale contract. Upon sending modification requests to the Buyers attorney, if an agreement cannot be reached as to the modifications, the contract can be terminated with no penalty. However, once the attorney review period has expired additional modifications can only be made with both parties’ agreement. 
  2. Review of the Buyer’s attorney’s modification and home inspection requests. As a Seller without a legal degree, you may not understand the Buyer’s attorney’s modification requests and you may not understand how they will affect your rights and obligations as the sale progresses toward closing. I will review all requests including any repair or credit requests that pertain the inspection. Buyers often make requests that are not appropriate and outside the scope of the inspection contingency. I will make recommendations as what I believe are legitimate repair concerns and inform you if I believe the requests can be declined in good faith. 
  3. Ordering title insurance – Most if not all contract in Illinois require the Seller to provide title insurance for the Buyer. I will order title insurance at a competitive rates so that you are not overcharged. 
  4. Title examination -  I will review the commitment for title insurance and make sure there are no issues that need to be resolved prior to closing (like paying off your existing mortgage). If title issues need to be resolved I will advise you as to how that can be accomplished so they convey clean title to the Buyer as required in the contract.
  5. Order a Plat of Survey – I will order a reasonably priced plat of survey as required in the contract. Additionally, I will review the plat to determine whether any boundary line or encroachment issues exist that need to be resolved. 
  6. Order homeowner association documents – If the home is governed by an HOA or condo association, I will order the required documents and disclosures, including but not limited a “paid assessment letter” that will be required by the title company to ensure there are no existing violations or monies owed to the association. If necessary, I will obtain a certificate of insurance. 
  7. Order well and septic evaluations (if applicable) – If your home is serviced by a well or septic system, I will order the required evaluation and review it to determine if there are issues with the well and septic systems. 
  8. Mortgage payoff statements – I will contact your lender(s) to obtain a final mortgage payoff letter confirming the total amount due to pay your existing loan(s) off in full. 
  9. Local transfer tax requirements – I will ensure local transfer tax requirements are met and well as obtain the transfer tax stamps that may be required. 
  10. Sale documents – I will prepare a new Deed, Bill of Sale, Affidavit of Title, ALTA statement, transfer tax declarations and a closing statement among other closing documents that will be required. 
  11. Schedule the closing – I will work with the lender, Buyer’s attorney and all real estate brokers to schedule a closing date and time that works for all involved. If you prefer not to attend the closing, I will meet with you ahead of time to execute the closing documents and a power of attorney. 
  12. Attend the closing -  I will attend the closing with you or I will attend the closing on your behalf if you have pre-signed closing documents. 
  13. Ensure your net sale proceeds are delivered – Whether your proceeds are issued in the form of a title company check or a wire transfer to your checking account, I will ensure that the proceeds are delivered accurately and promptly. 

Buyer Services:

Services offered to Home Buyers:

  1. Contract Review and Modifications: I will carefully review the purchase contract and request modifications through the Seller’s attorney. Form contracts are often used with “fill in the blank” terms that often get filled in incorrectly, are left blank or TBD “to be determined” is inserted. I will ensure all terms are clear and I also generally ask for additional clarifications and modifications to protect you as a Buyer and ensure your earnest money is not lost. 
  2. Home Inspection -  I will review your inspection report and I will go over it with you. If there are major defects or concerns, we can request the Seller to make certain repairs or otherwise compensate you so you can have things addressed properly after the closing. The home inspection requests can be tricky as a Seller is not looking to spend money on their way out the door. However, most Sellers will address legitimate concerns so long as there are not alternative Buyers willing to accept the condition of the property as it is. When deciding whether to make requests or when deciding how much is appropriate to ask for you need to consider the length time the property has been on the market, whether there were multiple offers, whether or not prior contract fell through and whether the alleged defects fall within the scope of the terms of the contract. If there are defects that you are unwilling to accept as a Buyer, I will ensure that either the Seller rectifies the issue or terminate the contract and ensure a return of your earnest money deposit. 
  3. Monitor contract contingency deadlines – Almost all contracts have more than one contingency. A contingency is something that must occur before the parties are obligated to close on the transaction. Examples include the attorney review contingency, home inspection contingency, financing contingency, association document review contingency, home sale and/or home close continencies. If not monitor and extended if necessary, you may risk losing your earnest money if you are unable to close. I will document and monitor all contingency dates and send formal extension requests if necessary. This will ensure you do not lose your earnest money. 
  4. Schedule the closing – I will work with the lender, Seller’s attorney and all real estate brokers to schedule a closing date and time that works for all involved. 
  5. Attend the closing -  I will personally attend the closing with you and I will review and explain all of the loan documents and conveyance documents. I will explain of the closing costs and fees and I will ensure you receive exactly what you bargained for. I will also review the evidence of title, title insurance and ensure the Deed has been prepared properly before it is recorded.
  6. Post- closing – I will ensure that your new Deed is recorded with the county recorder’s office so your ownership is properly reflected in the public records. When the newly recorded Deed is received, I will keep a copy in your file and send you the original at no additional cost. Lastly, I will be available to answer any post-closing questions or concerns that you may have.