Do I need an attorney to buy a house?
In the state of Illinois real estate attorneys are traditionally involved on both buyer and seller side during a real estate transaction. While you can probably manage to get to the closing on your own, the real estate practice relies on the use of attorneys so heavily that not being represented by one can significantly hinder your interest. It’s well worth a flat fee of a few hundred dollars to know that someone will review the legalities of the contract and help you understand the documents at closing. Choosing the wrong kind of lawyer can cause major anxiety so it’s crucial to hire someone who specializes in real estate closings. I have seen plenty of deals fall apart by well-intentioned friends or family members whose specialty was litigation or divorce law (litigiousness is not a trait you are looking for in a real estate practitioner). Being a real estate attorney in Florida does not cut it either as the real estate practice is state-specific.
An attorney should be selected prior to the contract being executed (we need their name on the contract form); ideally, you have already made contact with a few and chosen one by the time an offer is made.
Some of the key items your attorney will do for you:
- Review the purchase agreement and propose changes to protect your best interest.
- Explain how contract modifications further you position in the transaction.
- Make sure to obtain clean title to the property with no previous unreleased mortgages, tax or mechanic’s liens. You can read more about title insurance here.
- Check the zoning and any zoning restrictions. This is particularly important when you are buying a property to improve and will be applying for a city permit.
- Check if there are any code violations on record with the zoning department. You can search a city database of violations here.
- Keep track of important contract dates and ask for an extension of those dates if necessary.
- Stay in contact with your lender and facilitate any paperwork required by the lender.
- Prepare closing documents and review them with you.
- Schedule the closing with the seller’s attorney and attend the closing with you.
- Handle post-closing holdbacks and possession agreements.
What’s the typical closing attorney fee?
An ordinary fee ranges from $500 – $800 unless it’s a complicated transaction such as some new construction contracts or a 1031 exchange which may bring the total cost to well over $1000-2000. The fee is due at closing so if the contract falls through in most cases you will not owe any money.
Here are a few of real estate attorneys we have worked with over the years:
Tory and Randy Boyer
3223 Lake Ave
Wilmette, IL 60091
J. Michael Collins
55 W Monroe Suite 600
Chicago, IL 60603
200 W Superior Suite #410
Chicago, IL 60654
Are you thinking about buying a home? Call us at 773-234-3201