Real Estate Closing
Buying or selling your home, you need protection and peace of mind, you need an experienced real estate closing Attorney.
People often ask what an Attorney does for someone who is buying or selling a home. Some people want to make laws to eliminate the need for attorneys in real estate transactions. Actually though, you are not required to use an attorney for a real estate closing in Illinois, and in fact, some people don't use attorneys for real estate closings. Some people do evictions without using a lawyer, and some do criminal defense trials without using a lawyer. But doing a closing without using a lawyer is like skydiving, or like having your photo taken with a wild bear - it's legal, and usually everything works out ok, but occasionally, something goes wrong, and you have a serious problem. I have seen people do closings without proper legal advice, and lose thousands of dollars, without even knowing it.
People can believe that the fees they pay in a closing are just normal fees that everybody pays, when in fact, the fees can be thousands of dollars higher than what they are required to pay. And using an attorney does not mean that you will automatically get the best deal. I am constantly being asked to approve fees for my clients in real estate transactions, and I get assured that the fees are customary, and that attorneys approve them. If I don't fight, then my client pays these fees. Some fees are actually customary, and some are not. Only an experienced attorney knows which fees you need to pay, and which ones you can eliminate.
The people who try to get you to pay these undue fees seem to have the attitude that there is no harm in asking you to pay them. You can always say no. One problem that I have is that if enough other attorneys agree to an undue fee, then people start to believe that they have a right to collect it. This is true for "later date" fees. If your mortgage lender asks for the later date service, then you owe the fee as a buyer. Otherwise, you don't owe it. However, if you don't pay the fee, then you don't get the later date service and coverage. You can ask about it when you talk with your real estate attorney.
One place where a buyer or seller can lose thousands of dollars without knowing it is in the property tax pro-ration calculation. Someone on your side needs to understand the equations, the calculations, and the contractual obligations relating to tax and other pro-rations, or you will be at risk for thousands of dollars.
One relatively large potential loss is in the area of negotiated settlements. For a seller, it is sometimes possible to negotiate reduced payoffs, especially in the short sale situation. If you don't take advantage of your negotiated settlements, it can cost you a lot.
As a buyer, how would you like to buy and pay for a property, and then find out that you don't own it and you are required to vacate it? It happens. When it happens, it is usually because someone made a mistake. You can rely on your title insurance to protect you from this, but title insurance does not protect your ownership of the property,and usually only covers part of the value of the property. Sometimes the title insurance doesn't cover you at all. So it is important to have as much help as possible in making sure that your real estate transaction goes properly.
Economically, consider what most people do when they buy or sell a house. They negotiate back and forth, increasing or decreasing their bids by thousands, or tens of thousands of dollars. Then after they arrive at a price, they call around to hire an attorney, and they hire the one that is fifty dollars less than someone else. Usually they don't ask questions to see if the attorney knows what he is doing. Most people seem to assume that any attorney can look at their papers and check to see that all of the proper boxes are checked.
One thing that an attorney does for you in a real estate transaction is to protect your right to cancel the transaction in the event that something is seriously wrong that threatens to cost you a lot of money. Your attorney might also protect you by preventing your buyer from backing out of a transaction when you are the seller.
Your attorney can prepare potentially a lot of documents if you are the seller, and can be responsible for finding you a reputable title company.
My standard fee for representing a buyer or seller in a typical transaction is $450.00 For a short sale transaction, my fee is $240.00 per hour representing the seller, and is usually approved by the bank, and not paid for by the seller.