Are you starting the process of finding your forever home? You and your partner have already decided on the neighborhood, schools and how many bedrooms would be perfect for your growing family. You’ve found a great realtor. Or maybe you’re on the other end of the spectrum ready to retire and sell your home to downsize. Now the legal conversations about closing documents, liens, and property taxes have begun.
Are you feeling overwhelmed by all of the legal jargon or the steps of the home buying/selling process? This may be the moment you realize you need more assistance with understanding real estate law. But what exactly does a real estate law attorney do? What are the benefits of hiring a lawyer and how can they help?
A real estate lawyer is someone whose job it is to be an expert regarding the rules and regulations related to real estate transactions in your state. In certain states, you can’t buy or sell a house unless a real estate lawyer is present. Real estate attorneys specialize in legal matters related to property, from sale transactions to disputes between parties. They help their clients understand contracts and other legal documents. Attorney Ben Weaver is a proud member of the Illinois State Bar Association and the Illinois Real Estate Lawyers Association, read to assist you on your journey!
1. Role of a Real Estate Attorney for the Buyer
A real estate attorney can fulfill several different roles for a buyer. The primary role is to check that the purchase contract is correct. In addition, they help you understand your purchase contract to ensure that your interests and rights are protected. It’s always smart to have an extra set of eyes on your side, failing to meet with a real estate attorney could leave you susceptible to various pitfalls and lawsuits.
- Title Work and Documentation: Your attorney oversees all title work. Title work involves a search of all the relevant land and public records at the Registry of Deeds related to the property you are buying, dating back for a period of at least 30 years (Illinois HOA Laws, Information, and Resources). This search also uncovers unsatisfied mortgages, easements or restrictions imposed by a prior owner, or other types of property issues that need to be rectified by your real estate attorney before closing. Findings of the title search are used to secure title insurance. All buyers are required to purchase title insurance before closing. The attorney also assures that the fees charged by the bank are correct, and reviews other documents for accuracy, including any taxes due.
- Closing: Your lawyer is responsible for overseeing the closing, this means helping you clearly understand all of the documents that are required to be signed. Furthermore, he/she is there to handle issues that may delay your closing, as well as to identify and avoid problems (such as zoning issues) that might question lawful ownership after the closing. They’re also powerful negotiators to have on your side!
2. Role of a Real Estate Attorney for the Seller
Analyzing the role of a real estate attorney for the seller shows how the attorney has different responsibilities than the attorney representing a buyer. The seller should look for a lawyer who has strong negotiating and problem-solving skills. It’s the seller’s lawyer who is needed to quickly solve a problem to save the deal! Working with a real estate attorney can be very helpful when you’re facing a difficult situation, such as a foreclosure or short sell. The other factors that are covered by a seller’s real estate attorney include:
- Helping the seller in drafting the terms of their sale and reviewing a listing agreement, if any such agreement is involved.
- Guiding the seller in case of counter-offers, along with resolving the tax implications.
- Preparing or reviewing all the paperwork, including deed, power of attorney, and the proposed settlement statement from the buyer’s attorney.
- Negotiating for the closing dates and preparing a certificate of satisfaction (if needed) to show that the seller has paid off any lender. This certificate is recorded only after the closing.
ROLE 3: Confidence & Trust
Take a moment to factor in having a peace of mind. Find an attorney that you feel confident can handle the many challenges that buying/selling may bring. Closing a transaction requires extensive coordination between parties, careful viewing of documentation and contracts, negotiating purchase agreements & loan documents, and resolving any issues between parties. All of the required documents, inspections, and legal jargon can cause anxiety and fear in a first-time home buyer or seller. It’s well worth it to hire an experienced real estate attorney to help you every step of the way!
Attorney Ben Weaver is known for going above and beyond for his clients. Whether you have an estate planning issue, family trust concern, or you have a legal problem in regard to a new home, business, real estate or remodel, you need a lawyer who cares. That’s where 23 Legal comes in! The common factor in our client reviews is how much Ben helped to put them at ease and made the milestone a pleasant experience. In the end, finding an attorney that works with your interest in mind is priceless. 23 Legal offers Real Estate and Estate Planning legal services to individuals, families, community associations and small business owners throughout Chicagoland.
Important Real Estate Definitions To Know:
- Adjustable-Rate Mortgage: There are two types of conventional loans: the fixed-rate and the adjustable-rate mortgage. In an adjustable-rate mortgage, the interest rate can change over the course of the loan at five, seven, or ten year intervals.
- Appraisal: In order to get a loan from a bank to buy a home, you first need to get the home appraised so the bank can be sure they are lending the correct amount of money. The appraiser will determine the value of the home based on an examination of the property itself, as well as the sale price of comparable homes in the area.
- Closing: Also referred to as completion or settlement, is the final step in executing a real estate transaction. The closing refers to the meeting that takes place where the sale of the property is finalized. At the closing, buyers and sellers sign the final documents, and the buyer makes the down payment and pays closing costs.
- Foreclosure: Legal process in which a lender attempts to recover the balance of a loan from a borrower who has stopped making payments to the lender by forcing the sale of the asset used as the collateral for the loan.
- Inspection: Home inspections are required once a potential buyer makes an offer. Typically, they cost a few hundred dollars. The purpose is to check that the house’s plumbing, foundation, appliances, and other features are up to code.
- Insurance: A practice or arrangement by which a company or government agency provides a guarantee of compensation for specified loss, damage, illness, or death in return for payment of a premium.
- Lender: An individual, a public or private group, or a financial institution that makes funds available to another with the expectation that the funds will be repaid. Repayment will include the payment of any interest or fees.
- Principal: The principal is the amount of money borrowed to purchase a home.
- Short Sale: In real estate is when a financially distressed homeowner sells his or her property for less than the amount due on the mortgage. The buyer of the property is a third party (not the bank), and all proceeds from the sale go to the lender.
- Real Estate Agent: A real estate agent is a professional with a real estate license who works under a broker and assists both buyers and sellers in the home-buying process.
- Title: Evidence that proves a person’s legal right to the ownership of a property.