No Comments

Installment Sales Contract Act

Installment Sales Contract Act

“Contract for Deed” abuse forced Illinois to write new rules

To address widespread abuse in the untraditional home financing realm, Illinois enacted the Installment Sales Contract Act, which officially became law on January 1, 2018. The Act addresses seller-financed transactions by affording buyers some of the protections given to mortgagees under the Illinois Mortgage and Foreclosure Law.

Home buyers who could not secure traditional bank or government financing had two choices if they wanted to fulfill their dream of home ownership: succumb to the minimally regulated “contract for deed” or “lease option” markets, or wait until their credit had improved enough to shoot for bank or FHA financing. These vulnerable buyers often locked themselves in contracts with property that was either condemned, laden with tax liens or had issues that would cost them thousands to address prior to moving in.

They previously had no legal recourse in many cases. The Act all but levels the playing field for the buyer who engages a seller directly for financing, although a real estate lawyer should be used regardless how well the Act protects them.

What the Installment Sales Contract Act accomplishes

The Installment Sales Contract Act tightened up several areas of contract law that buyers previously were defenseless to. New rules include:

  • Sellers are required to record installment contracts on or before the tenth (10) day of the sale. This was done to prevent scams and to formally announce the sale to any future buyer.
  • Buyers now have the right to order an inspection from a third-party.
  • Buyers must receive notice of any code violations affecting the property.
  • Buyers are afforded a 90 day “cure” period if they default, which gives the buyer the opportunity to make up missed payments without losing contractual rights.
  • Buyers can recover payments made to the seller if they default – similar to recovering equity from a mortgage.

With lease options and land contracts growing in popularity, buyers may find this alternative avenue more attractive given the additional protections the Act offers.

As with all contract sales, the seller has three (3) business days to supply the buyer with a copy of the Illinois Attorney General Disclosure. This must be supplied before the contract is finalized.

Retain counsel before signing

Whether you intend on signing a mortgage or purchasing distressed property on a contract for deed, real estate law may or may not protect you if you do not understand the paperwork you are signing. It takes one hidden “clause” to default without knowing you actually defaulted, so you should retain an experienced real estate lawyer knowledgeable in Illinois contract law.

Planning on signing a lease option, but are unsure what certain legal terms mean? Have questions about your rights as lessor or lessee? The Installment Sales Contract Act is an area of law that many find difficult to articulate, so you are encouraged to contact our firm prior to handing over the keys or signing contracts.

No Comments

5 Reasons to Retain a Closing Attorney in Chicago

closing attorney in Chicago

Transaction safety should be your top priority

It is estimated that 95 percent of real estate transactions in Cook County are handled by a closing attorney in Chicago. There is no legal requirement to hire one, but with pages and pages of legalese to comb through before finalizing your purchase, you should consider having one on hand in the event the transaction goes sideways.

Apart from the fact real estate agents and title companies cannot interpret contracts in place of a legal professional, five major hiccups can turn your dream purchase into a disaster. Those five areas become legitimate reasons to retain counsel, which we discuss below.

Misinterpretation

A real estate attorney will spend years learning and practicing contract articulation. They continue their education as laws are updated. They write the very purchase contracts buyers and sellers consummate at the end of every sale. Real estate professionals, home inspectors, title agencies and those directly involved with a transaction do not write purchase contracts, nor are these groups of people legally qualified to articulate what specific terminology within said contracts may or may not mean.

Retain counsel to avoid misinterpreting contract language and putting yourself in a (potentially) tortious position.

Encumbrances

Nine times out of ten, Cook County home sellers will disclose issues with their property, such as unresolved easement disputes, aesthetical problems, interior updates needed, and encumbrances that have not been addressed. Every now and then, a seller may not disclose an issue for whatever reason, or they may be clueless that a lien was placed on their property.

Err on the side of caution and retain a closing attorney in Chicago regardless how honorable or popular the seller may be. The goal is to purchase your dream home without encumbrances on the title or property.

Filings

If you polled ten home buyers on how much they love dealing with the Cook County clerk, courts and other offices within the county, the chances all ten will dislike visiting these offices will be great.

Title companies and attorneys record documentation daily. Both are empowered to do so, although allowing the same attorney who just reviewed the transaction to record transactions and deeds would be more prudential.

Negotiations

Many real estate transactions go through a negotiation process. Seller shoots high, buyer shoots low, and several days or weeks of discussions regarding who pays what, when and why will transpire until finally both parties nail down a comfortable number that they can live with. Although real estate agents are working behind the scenes to smooth negotiations, an attorney is imparting wisdom into their respective clients as discussions progress.

Attempting to negotiate without the benefit of an attorney may result in unfavorable contracts, paying a higher than desired price for the home, or buying property that may have more legal issues than advertised.

Peace of mind

Although no law exists promising home buyers peace of mind, they deserve it. They will not find peace of mind written into their purchase contracts, nor will it come with their warranty deed. With an attorney working all angles of the transaction, peace of mind will be delivered in the form of a legitimate sale secured by buyer funds, their signature, and full understanding of the paperwork they just signed.

Buyers are legally safe before, during and after their transaction with an attorney on their side. And that, my friends, is how peace of mind can be had.

Closing attorneys keep buyers safe

Buyers who read, interpret and question the validity of a purchase contract without an attorney could set themselves up for failures down the road. There is no sugar-coating that statement.

A closing attorney in Chicago keeps buyers safe from start to finish. The moment you engage a realtor is the same moment you should engage an attorney to assist with the purchase process if you want your property researched, paid for and deeded with the least amount of hassle.

No Comments

Why You Need a Real Estate Lawyer In Chicago

real estate lawyer in Chicago

Transact in the presence of an attorney when possible.

Many have approached me with an interesting question: Why do I need a real estate lawyer in Chicago property transactions?

With Google just a few clicks away, real estate brokers and other non-lawyer property sellers falsely assume that giving a potential buyer legal advice is a rite of passage. Unfortunately, this is considered unlicensed practice of law since an individual is providing legal advice without proper licensure.

Chicago Bar Association v. Quinlan and Tyson, Inc. 34 Ill.2d 177, 1966 underscores how Illinois courts feel about brokers providing buyers with legal advice. One quote from that case establishes the foundation for which the introductory title will be answered: “Mere simplicity cannot be the basis for drawing boundaries to the practice of a profession.”

Let us expand on how real transactions are anything but simplistic, and how an attorney can remove ambiguity from real estate transactions.

Buyers deserve accurate due diligence

Sellers may tell you everything they know about the property you wish to acquire, yet may leave out vital information such as title encumbrances. Not that they would leave this information out intentionally; these things happen. However, quitclaim deed sales and those which seem “too good to be true” may be worth digging deeper into.

Due diligence is what real estate attorneys do better than most. From accessing assessor records to digging deep into the history of property titles, information that would benefit you later can be found before you finalize the purchase.

Another due diligence function that a real estate lawyer in Chicago can perform is advising buyers of liens on the property, including unpaid taxes, child support liens, contractor liens, and any code violations that have not been addressed.

You won’t know until you know

Another quote from the case referenced above fits well here: “Drafting and attending to the execution of legal instruments related to real estate titles are within the practice of law…”

According to the Chicago Realtors Association and Illinois law, realtors are only allowed to fill in blanks on real estate contracts with factual business information or delete incorrect information. Changing contract verbiage, adding other provisions or performing any function that alters the ebb and flow of the contract could be grounds for litigation – not to mention contract voidance.

Attorneys are better equipped to handle alterations to contract language, and are essential in real estate transactions that involve millions of dollars changing hands.

For further consideration

When possible, retain a real estate lawyer in Chicago before negotiations begin. This gives your attorney the opportunity to look over contract particulars, make sure the title is unencumbered, and help explain difficult clauses in an easy-to-understand format.

Remember, you would never ask a licensed plumber to do your taxes; that same concept should always apply to legal instruments.