Real Estate Closing Attorney
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Real Estate Closing Attorney
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Below you'll find answers to many of your questions regarding your purchase and what to expect from the real estate closing.
For all new clients, I'll prepare a “Road Map Letter” explaining the closing process. Each letter is custom-written to your transaction with relevant information (dates, inspections, title, etc).
No real estate closing is "quick and easy" and no two real estate transactions are the same. There is no legal requirement that you hire a lawyer, but the small amount of money you pay for an attorney may save you money in the long run.
Lohse Law often discovers that the buyer is being over-charged for certain title charges or that the buyer was short-changed on various credits due to them. These issues can amount to thousands of dollars. Further if issues are discovered with the property, it is much easier and cheaper to correct problems before a closing rather than afterwards when the buyer has fewer options.
Many complex legal questions and issues must be addressed to make sure you are getting what you paid for. Here is a partial list of what Lohse Law will do when hired to represent you for your real estate purchase (some items below may not be relevant to every transaction):
Usually the closing will take place at the title company's closest office to the property address. Depending on which title company is doing the closing, there are offices throughout the entire Chicagoland area and in each County. I will send you a closing confirmation with address and contact information once it is available.
CASH PURCHASE: If you are purchasing with "cash" (no loan), the closing is usually scheduled 7-10 days in advance.
FINANCED PURCHASE: If you are getting financing to purchase the property, we schedule the closing after your your lender issues a "clear to close" letter or a "firm mortgage commitment." This means the loan is ready and there is nothing left to do (this is not the same thing as a pre-approval or pre-qualification).
Closings can be scheduled Monday through Friday 9a to 4p for cash transactions or 9a to 3:30p for financed transactions. No closings on holidays or weekends.
Maybe. I will ask you to suggest times and days you are available or not available due to work or personal conflicts. The closing needs to be scheduled based on a several people’s schedules and availability (buyers, sellers, lawyers, lender, title company). If you are closing at the end of the month, it is even harder to get the time you desire because this is often when title companies are the busiest (this is especially true for the last Friday of the month).
For cash transactions, a real estate closing may take as little as 30 minutes if everything is ready to go. If you are getting bank financing, it may take 1.5 hours or longer. There will likely be 100-200 pages to sign, and this takes time. It also depends on how quickly the lender sends the money to the title company.
1 or 2 days prior to closing either I or your lender will provide you with a preliminary amount that you will need to bring to the closing. This is sometimes referred to as your "bottom line."
Please round up by a few hundred dollars from the amount we tell you because figures (your "bottom line") often change. Any overage you bring will be returned to you after the closing.
You cannot bring cash or a personal check. You must provide the balance of funds due in one of two forms.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, closing "look" a little different than normal times.
In Illinois, inspections are not required by law, but almost all purchasers have one performed. I always encourage and advise buyers to conduct a home inspection.
Even if the contract is "as-is," it doesn't mean you cannot have an inspection; you should almost always have an inspection. An "as-is" contract basically means that the seller is not going to make any repairs if you discover something.
If your general inspection uncovers other larger potential issues, you can hire additional inspections. Remember too that radon tests are often separate and independent from your general home inspection. If radon gas is something that concerns you, you should schedule a radon test. If you are purchasing a condo on the 3rd floor or higher in a building, you don't need a radon test.
ASAP. You should begin calling around to schedule as soon as you have a signed and execute sales contract. The contract states the timeframe for when you can conduct your inspections, otherwise you are waiving your rights to an inspection. Lohse Law generally does not make recommendations for inspectors, but your realtor should be able to provide you with some options if you cannot find an inspector.
The most commonly used contracts in Illinois (CAR and Multi-Board) allow buyers to ask the sellers to repair a limited set of items. Depending on which contract is used, the permitted items may include only the major components that are either defective or non-operational or are a current threat to health or safety (i.e., electrical, plumbing, HVAC, structural, foundation, appliances, etc.).
Just because codes may have been updated from when the house was built today, does not mean the Seller must "improve" the property to current codes. An example of this could be that a municipality now requires GFCI outlets in some places. If the house was built to code without GFCI, doesn't mean the Seller has to "update" and improve the house for you.
The contract may specifically state that just because an item is old or at the end of its useful life, does not mean it is defective, and therefore is not cannot be requested to be repaired or replaced per the contract. One common improper request often made is "the hot water heater is 8 years old and at the end of it's useful life." Many inspectors will write something like this to make you aware. But if the hot water heater is operating properly, regardless of age, you cannot ask for it to be replaced.
Items that would be considered a minor repair or routine maintenance such as HVAC servicing, cleaning gutters, or trimming tree branches are not part of your inspection contingency.
Often, non-lawyers (such as a realtor or friend) will encourage buyers to ask for cosmetic or other non-covered repairs. If you do ask for such a repair or replacement, the buyer can be deemed in breach of contract and the seller may cancel the contract. It is important to review the contract to know what you specifically can ask for.
As long as you are still in the first five (5) business days of the seller signing the contract (or other date as provided in the contract), you may cancel the contract. Please let my office know and I will cancel the contract on your behalf. You will get your earnest money back.
If you request repairs and the seller does not agree to make the repairs, you can cancel the contract if you do not come to an agreement with the seller as to what is going to be repaired. Usually you have 10 days from the date the seller signs to the contract to come to an agreement for repairs.
There is no set time frame for them to respond ranges from a few hours to three (3) business days. If we make our requests on a Friday afternoon, it may not be until the following Tuesday or Wednesday. If both the buyers and sellers have not reached an agreement on the repair requests within ten (10) business days after the seller signs the contract (a/k/a the contract acceptance date), then either party may cancel the contract and the buyer will get their earnest money back.
The sellers may provide receipts or photos for the work performed. You should also verify these repairs were completed properly at the walk-through prior to closing because you are not permitted to be there when the repairs are being completed. Take a "check-list" with you to the final walk-through so that you remember which items to look for.
Yes (as long as your requests were made during the permissible time frames. Your realtor will help you get the money back after the cancellation notices are sent.
Yes, but the seller must agree to this. If you want a repair completed in a very specific way, it may be best to ask for a creditl. In our attorney review letter, we can inform the seller that you are willing to accept a credit in lieu of them making the repairs. Sellers often prefer to give a credit in lieu of making the repairs because they may not have the time or making the repair can sometimes open a "box of worms" causing more problems (and money).
The final walk-through is usually the day of the closing or the day before the closing. You will schedule the final walk-through with your realtor. This is your last chance to review the property to make sure it is in the same condition as when you made the offer and that any repairs that were agreed to be completed, have in fact been completed. Take a check-list with you to the final walk-through to make sure you look at everything.
If you discover issues at the final walk-though (repairs not completed, new damage, unwanted personal property) take pictures and send me a description of the problems. Discuss these items with your realtor because your realtor may be able to have these items corrected faster than going through attorneys.
It is unlikely that the house will be "professionally" cleaned or patched nail holes from pictures unless this was something agreed to in the original contract. Otherwise the property will likely be in "broom-swept" condition.