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So You Think You Don’t Need a Real Estate Attorney

You’ve purchased a home outside Illinois without a Lawyer’s help. Or you know someone who has. A friend told you an attorney is not needed. Your real estate agent seems to be handling everything anyway, right?

So why do you need an attorney to buy a house in Chicago-land?

Common Misconceptions:

  • incorrectly assuming your real estate agent handles everything

  • incorrectly assuming real estate agents have authority to draft contract addendums/Riders

  • incorrectly assuming a real estate deal is “simple”

  • incorrectly assuming you will not have any disputes with the seller

  • incorrectly assuming you won’t encounter any loan approval difficulties

  • not knowing the common, potential pitfalls you may encounter

  • not understanding the Contract, which is full of legalese, and not realizing you are bound to it. It restricts what you can do and what you can’t do. It limits your recourse if you have a dispute with the seller, obligates you to do what you promised, outlines exactly what risks you are up against, and limits what rights you have.

  • unfamiliarity with just how complex the process has become in the past few years

  • unawareness of the mountain of loan documents and other legal documents you must sign or review for accuracy at closing (and no, your real estate agent, your lender and your title company cannot explain them or give you legal advice)

Without an Attorney it’s an Uphill Battle

Attorney Climbing Up Papers

What Do Those Legal Documents Say?

No one will be there to explain the legal documents to you at closing:

a.documents produced by the title company

b. documents produced by the Seller’s attorney (Deed, Affidavit of Title, Bill of Sale, etc.);

c. lender’s documents (often hundreds of pages).

How Will You Know if You Are Getting Clear Title?

No one will review the title commitment to ensure that you are getting clear title or that any mistakes are corrected;

How will you take title to the property?

No one will explain how you can take title or ensure you take title to the property in the way that benefits you.

Are there Defects on that Survey?

No one will review the Survey on your behalf to ensure there are no encroachments or defects.

Will the Title Company Insure Over Those Defects?

No one will be there to demand that the Seller cure any defects discovered on title or on the survey or request the title company insure over potential survey defects.

But The Seller Promised They Would . . . .

No one can assist you in enforcing the promises made by the Seller.

No one will review your contract . . .

to ensure it contains everything you agreed to and that it DOESN’T contain something you didn’t agree to;

What Did You Promise To Do? What Rights Do You Have? And Yes, You did agree to that Risk. . . .

No one will be there to explain your contract to you, which is likely a dozen or more pages of legalese.

What Happens in this Deal and When?

No one will explain the legal process to you. Title Companies and real estate agents are not authorized to give legal advice.

What Can You Do If The Seller Breaks the Contract?

No one will explain your legal options or advocate for you if the Seller backs out of the deal or refuses to do what they had promised to do.

What are All Those Charges and are they Accurate?

No one will be explaining the final amounts you owe and advocating for getting rid of erroneous fees.

Are those Tax Prorations and other Credits from the Seller correct?

No one will be reviewing the property tax credits, homeowner association credits, or closing cost credits (if applicable) from the Seller to be sure you are getting what you bargained for.

How Will You Get the Seller to Fix All Those Home Defects?

No one will legally negotiate and finalize, in writing, your home inspection defects discovered.

What if Your Lender Says the Property Isn’t Worth What You’re Buying it For?

How will you cancel or renegotiate this deal? No one will be able to help you cancel or renegotiate the deal if the property doesn’t appraise to the value of the purchase price.

What if Your Lender Denies Your Loan and the Seller Refuses to Release Your Earnest Money?

No one will be able to help you to timely cancel the deal and help you get your earnest money back if you are denied for a loan.

What if the Seller Doesn’t Move out on Time?

No one will be there to advocate for you and help you enforce your rights under the contract if your Seller fails to timely move out.

What if the Seller Damages The Property When Moving Out?

No one will be there to advocate for you and draft a written agreement for the Seller to credit you money at closing if Seller damages the property during the move out or if a new defect appears just before closing.

If you have questions about the application of the law in a particular case, consult your lawyer. The law is constantly changing. Information on this site or any site to which we link does not constitute legal advice.


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