Do You Need a Lawyer to Buy or Sell in Illinois?

In Illinois, when people buy or sell houses, they often have a Chicago Real Estate attorney help them. This is a common practice, but it’s not a law. You don’t have to hire a lawyer, you could TRY to do it yourself. But, there are some things that only a lawyer can do for you.

Why ONLY an Illinois Real Estate Attorney Can Write a Contract

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Lawyers are the only ones who can tell you about your legal rights and responsibilities when you’re buying or selling a house. Real estate agents can help negotiate the deal and fill in the blanks on standard contracts, but they can’t give you legal advice.

That’s Not What I’ve Heard – Can You Cite a Case or Something?

In simple terms, there’s a rule in Illinois that says brokers who aren’t lawyers can’t act like lawyers during a property sale, and lawyers who aren’t licensed brokers can’t act like brokers. This is from a court case called Curielli v. Quinn in 2015.

Even if a broker can sell property, brokers can’t create contracts for buying and selling, prepare deeds (which are the documents that prove who owns a property), or handle the final steps of a sale. They can’t even fill in the blanks on forms that lawyers have created. The Illinois Supreme Court said in a 1987 case (1st Federal Savings Loan Association v. Sadnick) that just filling in the blanks is like practicing law. Brokers can’t do that even if they’re not compensated for it. The only thing a realtor can write for you is the Multiboard 7.0 Contract offer and its addenda.

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Why ONLY an Illinois Real Estate Lawyer Can Prepare Your Paperwork

Buying or selling a house involves a lot of paperwork. Only you or your Illinois real estate attorney can prepare some of this paperwork. To expand, this paperwork includes things like contract addenda, deeds, notes, mortgages, powers of attorney, affidavits, possession agreements, escrow agreements, tax proration agreements, requests to extend contract contingencies, and contract termination notices. You’ll need an attorney to:

You need your documents and figures to be accurate. Mistakes can cause delays, disagreements, and even lawsuits. An Illinois real estate lawyer’s training and experience can help avoid these problems and make the process smoother and easier. This is training that a real estate agent just does not have. It’s their job to sell your house and my job to make the home close.

Why ONLY a Chicago Real Estate Attorney Is Truly Loyal To YOU

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Lawyers have a duty to be completely loyal to their clients. They have to act in your best interests and keep your information confidential. Other people involved in the process, like lenders, inspectors, and title companies, don’t have this same duty. There are cases saying that lenders, inspectors, and notaries are your business vendors and you should expect that they’re putting profits before your best interests. Not with an Illinois real estate attorney!

I’ve Heard That Before – But My Last Lawyer Did a Bad Job!

A Chicago real estate attorney’s duty of loyalty is a fundamental ethical obligation that a lawyer owes to their client. No good attorney avoids it. This duty means that a lawyer must act in the best interests of their client and put the client’s interests ahead of their own.

Here are some key aspects of the duty of loyalty:

  1. Conflict of Interest: Lawyers must avoid conflicts of interest, which occur when a lawyer’s duty to one client interferes with their duty to another client, or when a lawyer’s own interests interfere with their duty to the client. If a conflict of interest arises, the lawyer must disclose it to the client, and in many cases, the lawyer may need to stop representing the client unless the client gives informed consent. I can never represent both the buyer and the seller at the same time.
  2. Confidentiality: Lawyers must keep their clients’ information confidential. This means they cannot disclose information about the client or the client’s case without the client’s permission unless required by law.
  3. Zealous Advocacy: Lawyers must advocate zealously for their clients. So, we must work hard to achieve the best possible outcome for the client, within the bounds of the law.
  4. Honesty: Lawyers must be honest with their clients. They must provide accurate information and not mislead their clients.
  5. Communication: Lawyers must communicate regularly with their clients and keep them informed about their transactions.

Title Insurance – Why You SHOULD Have a Lawyer Do It!

Title insurance is like a safety net when you’re buying a property. It’s there to make sure that the property you’re buying (or selling) is really yours and that no one else has any claims on it. These claims could be things like unpaid debts from previous owners that were tied to the property, or someone else saying they actually own the property. These are called “liens” and “encumbrances.”

The people who check all this are called “title agents.” They look at public records and other information to make sure the property’s history is clean. If they find any problems, they work to solve them. Then, the property can be sold without any issues. In summary, we call this process “clearing the title.”

In Illinois, there are rules about who can be a title agent. While some people can do this job, it’s usually best (I would say unquestionably best) for Illinois real estate attorneys to do it. These lawyers, called “attorney agents,” have special training in property law and know how to handle any problems that might come up. Moreover, I have personally done transactions where non-attorney title agents missed six-figure liens on properties, and as a rule we do not complete transactions without non-attorney title agents anymore.

What Do You Even Do as an Illinois Real Estate Attorney Title Agent?

  1. We look at all the records related to the property. This helps us understand the property’s history and see if there are any problems. These problems are things like open estates, ownership disputes, or legal violations.
  2. We look for any liens or encumbrances. These could be things like unpaid debts or claims from other people who say they haven’t been paid for work on the home.
  3. We get a survey to see that the boundaries of the property are acceptable. This helps us avoid boundary issues or even demolition orders!
  4. We report what they find to the title insurance company. The company then decides if it can insure the property. If they say no, we work to figure out why the answer was no.
  5. If we find any problems, we solve them. We’ll do more research, figure out what to do to fix the problem, and then do that work. Often we have to write large packets of FOIA requests and legal documents on your behalf.
  6. We take responsibility for our work! This means if I make a mistake, you can come sue me. This is why I have so much insurance (and have never had a claim).

So, in simple terms, my job is to be your home detective and solve the mystery of the transaction.

As you can see, we are one of the biggest volume firms in helping people buy and sell homes, condos, and other properties in and around the Chicago area. So, when you’re ready to buy or sell, we can help you do it with confidence.

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