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Grayslake Real Estate And Bankruptcy Law Blog

How an attorney can help you when you sell your home

When you decide to sell your Illinois home, you may face some confusing issues you never thought about before. While Illinois does not require that you hire an attorney to represent you during the sale process, doing so can save you a lot of headaches. If you simply list your home with one or more real estate companies, these people are not attorneys and cannot give you the legal advice you may well need.

Selling your home involves a myriad of paperwork, much of which can be quite complex and confusing. In addition, the standard forms used by many real estate companies may not cover everything involved or potentially involved in your particular sale. Your attorney can draft all these documents for you, or at the very least can answer any questions you have regarding your brokerage agreement, etc. and identify any issues not covered therein.

Can the HARP program save your home?

As an Illinois homeowner, you not only love your home, but it likely represents one of your biggest investments. Consequently, if you are thinking about bankruptcy as your only way out of overwhelming debt, you nevertheless want to save your home if at all possible. As Mortgage Reports explains, the Home Affordable Refinance Program may be the way you can do this.

HARP is the federal program that Congress established in 2009 to help homeowners such as you. Since then, over 3.3 million Americans refinanced their homes through HARP, often reducing their monthly mortgage payments by up to 30 percent in the process.

The basics of timing your bankruptcy

The financial difficulties you are experiencing may have had you considering bankruptcy for a while, but you might not realize that the time you file can have a positive or detrimental effect on the results of your bankruptcy discharge. In fact, when and how you file for personal bankruptcy might even result in fraud penalties. At the Law Office of Paul R. Idlas, we are prepared to answer the questions of Illinois residents to help them avoid potential penalties and make the most of the bankruptcy process.

You may be aware that bankruptcy might help you shed your insurmountable debt and avoid a home foreclosure. However, nobody told you that timing can be crucial. The following points are important to consider when timing your bankruptcy:

  • According to FindLaw, it can be a bad idea to file for bankruptcy soon after running up significant credit card debt. Unless these charges were necessary living expenses, the court may deem them “luxury” charges and rule them non-dischargeable.
  • You may want to delay filing for bankruptcy if you recently moved to Illinois, so you can qualify for bankruptcy exemptions in this state.
  • If you recently transferred property out of your name, you might be accused of defrauding your creditors, and the bankruptcy trustee may have authority to recover these assets.
  • If you foresee unavoidable debt within the next few months – such as an impending surgery – you might want to hold off on filing for bankruptcy, since necessary medical or credit card debt is often dischargeable.

What happens at my real estate closing?

You just bought a new Illinois home and life is good, not to mention exciting. The seller agreed to your purchase offer and you found a mortgage lender. Now the only thing standing between you and move-in day is the closing. If this is your first home purchase, that closing may be causing you some worry. What will happen there?

As Home Buying Institute explains, you really have nothing to worry about. The real estate closing is simply the final step of your home buying journey. This is where and when legal title to your new home passes to you from the seller.

What about the emotional impact of bankruptcy?

After months of dealing with financial difficulties and overwhelming debt, you are seriously considering filing for bankruptcy. However, there is one thing holding you back – you are worried about the stigma and embarrassment associated with having a personal bankruptcy on your record. These are not uncommon fears for residents of Illinois, as well as across the country. Despite bankruptcy being more common and accepted these days, many people still attach negative emotions to it.

According to the Balance, about one out of every 10 people in the U.S. will file for bankruptcy at some point, making you far from alone in your challenges. Even so, you are also not alone if you have any of the common feelings that might make you hesitate to seek debt relief. For example, the thought of your family, friends or employer finding out you are going through a bankruptcy can be humiliating. You might feel ashamed and helpless, as well as guilty for seeking a debt discharge. You might feel as if you should take responsibility for your debts instead. You could also worry that you will not be able to get a home or auto loan after a bankruptcy.

3 tips for selling a house for the first time

People usually make a lot of purchasing a home. While the home-buying process is often full of thrilling hunts and stressful negotiations, there is a lot to handle when you are selling a home, too. If this is your first time selling a piece of residential real estate, you may not know exactly what you should do.

While making a few oversights may be inevitable, some missteps can be costly and burdensome. Here are some guidelines for selling a home in 2018.

Why you need title insurance

At the Law Office of Paul R. Idlas in Illinois, we know how exciting it is to purchase a new home. Whether it is your first home, a larger home for your growing family, or a smaller home when you are ready to downsize, buying a new home is always a very “big deal.” If you are like most people, your home also represents your biggest investment. Consequently, you want to make sure that it has not only the space, layout and amenities you desire, but also is legally yours when you buy it.

That is where title insurance comes in. World Wide Land Transfer explains that while you may be the first people to live in your new home if it was just built, you are not the first people to occupy the land on which it rests. People have bought and sold Illinois land for well over 200 years, and someone needs to check all of those land transfer documents to make sure they are proper and correct. That someone is your title insurance company.

Am I liable for lack of disclosure when I sell?

Illinois, like many other states, requires that when selling residential real estate, you must disclose any issues with the property. Illinois uses a specific disclosure act to govern this, and an exhaustive list of items to disclose, ranging from water leakage in the basement to any number of other material defects. So if you fail to disclose these material defects, can you be held liable in court?

It depends on the situation. According to Illinois's Residential Real Property Disclosure Act, if you had no prior knowledge of material defects later discovered by the buyer, you cannot be held liable. This can include if you provided false information in the disclosure based on public information provided to you in error. Other examples include if you disclosed that the walls of the house were sound when the interior drywall had a mold infestation that was not visible on standard inspection. As long as you can reasonably show that you had no prior knowledge, you cannot be held liable.

How to find relief when debt becomes a burden

Sometimes individuals have a problem with debt because of out-of-control spending habits, but sometimes debt overwhelms homeowners and others unexpectedly. A shift in the housing market, a job loss, an accident or an extended illness that causes medical bills to pile up — all of these situations can happen without warning, leaving Illinois families struggling under the weight of debt they cannot repay.

The Federal Trade Commission offers consumers suggestions for dealing with overwhelming debt. First, talking with those owed may help. Being honest about life situations that have made repayment difficult may be the first step in getting the debt to a manageable payment plan. If a modified repayment plan is not possible, the FTC says it may be a good idea to consider a "debt relief service."

What are the main legal issues residential realtors face?

You remodeled the home office, hung out the shingle and built an online presence with a basic website. On Saturday afternoons, you are now out and about in Illinois suburbia keeping a watch for prime residential properties. As you begin your career in residential real estate, remember to think through the legal issues that go along with being a realtor. 

The National Association of Realtors outlines the main "legislative and regulatory issues that affect real estate." One concern that has been in the news a lot in recent days is data breaches, which have affected some of the largest global organizations in business today. They are also of concern to you, a local realtor who collects a significant amount of personal information from potential clients. Knowing the laws that govern collection of such data will be important to your success.

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