Buying or selling a home is an intricate process. Although Illinois law does not require a real estate attorney to be present at closings, hiring an attorney when buying or selling your home is almost always a wise decision.
In this article, we will discuss the top 5 reasons you should hire a real estate attorney for Illinois residential real estate transactions:
Realtors typically prepare a form contract when you agree to the purchase or sale of your home. However, these contracts typically provide for a 5-day modification period during which either side’s attorney can request modifications to the contract and revoke the contract if an agreement on such requested modifications is not reached. During this period, your attorney will explain the contract to you and make sure that the actual terms of the contract match your understanding of the deal. Your attorney will bring his or her experience to bear to ensure that the deal is fair to you. The goal is to protect your interests in case the deal falls through, unforeseen problems occur between contract and closing or after the closing, or disputes arise after closing. Often the attorney modification and review process will end up saving you significantly more than the cost of the attorney.
For more on this, check out these articles: Top 5 Things to Look for in Your Residential Real Estate Contract, and Attorney Modification of Real Estate Contracts Explained.
Residential real estate transactions involve a lot of moving parts. There are also several points throughout the process during which issues can occur that, if not properly resolved, may cause the deal to fall through.
The chances of successfully closing your real estate deal are increased significantly if each side has an attorney. If the home inspector finds unexpected problems with the home, your attorney will work to negotiate a mutually acceptable solution with the other side. If there are issues with the chain of title to the home, your real estate lawyer will work to resolve them prior to the sale.
One of the most common reasons that deals fail to close is one of the parties missing a deadline, such as failing to timely provide proof that mortgage financing is progressing. Missed deadlines may allow the other party to back out of the deal and can sometimes lead to a loss of earnest money. An important part of a real estate attorney’s job is to make sure that these deadlines are met or that extensions are negotiated if necessary.
Real estate attorneys typically charge small flat fees. Litigation attorneys tend to be much more expensive. Hiring a real estate attorney will significantly reduce the likelihood of post-closing disputes. Disputes can arise from ambiguities or mistakes in the contract, issues with the title, or problems with the condition of the property after it is received. Real estate attorneys will make sure that the contract is clear and problem free, that any issues with title to the property are discovered and addressed prior to closing, that any agreements regarding repairs to the property are properly memorialized in writing, and that all legally required pre-closing disclosures are properly made. Expensive post-closing litigation is far less likely if both sides hire attorneys to take the deal from contract to close.
In a real estate deal, both the seller and the buyer have several obligations that must be met before closing. In addition to communications that must be made to one another, the parties are often required to work with the local municipality, lenders, homeowners associations, title companies, and the county tax assessor.
This is a time-intensive process for even for experienced attorneys who deal with these steps on a regular basis. Even if you are able to execute the process flawlessly without an attorney, it will be extremely time consuming. More likely, in the absence of an attorney, mistakes will occur that will cause the closing to be pushed back by several months or the deal to fall through entirely.
One of the key roles that sellers’ attorneys play in a residential real estate closing is to act as title agent. They work with the title company to ensure that the seller actually has the right to pass full title to the property to the buyer. If there are any impediments to this right, the attorney will identify them and work with the parties and the title company to resolve any issues. Buyers’ attorneys review the survey of the land and the deed to make sure that the buyer actually legally receives the full property that he or she is attempting to purchase. This is highly technical work on both sides, and it is extremely important in order to protect the interests of both parties.