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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.

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