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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.

Purchase agreement

The purchase agreement between you and the buyer is the most important document of your entire home sale process. Again, you can get printed forms, but these almost always do not contain anywhere near the number of provisions you may need. Your attorney can draft this agreement, making sure to cover whatever issues your sale may involve, including the following:

  • Additions and alterations you made to your home
  • Additions or alterations the buyer intends to make
  • Legal consequences if the buyer fails to obtain financing
  • Legal consequences if the inspector finds asbestos, lead-based paint, radon, etc.
  • Legal consequences if the closing fails to take place

Title

Naturally you must pass good title to the buyer, so this entails a title search likely done by one of your local title insurance companies. Not only does the title document provide the legal description of your property, including its precise boundaries, it also notes any exceptions, easements, restrictions or encumbrances on it. Perhaps most importantly, however, the title search assures that all previous owners of your property legally and properly transferred it when they sold it. Again, your attorney can review the title, answer any questions you may have, explain the consequences of the easements, etc., and even advise you with regard to zoning restrictions in your area. Title documents do not address zoning issues.

Closing

While the purchase agreement is the most important document in the sale process, the closing is the most important event. This is where you, the buyer and all other parties meet together to finalize the sale and purchase of your home. The buyer pays all applicable closing costs, the mortgage lender and/or escrow agent pays you the sale proceeds, and you sign the warranty deed legally transferring your property to its new owner. This is the final point where having an attorney serves your interests well. (S)he can answer any questions anyone has, review all the documents as to legality and accuracy, and ensure that each one receives the necessary signatures.

Selling your home is a big decision, and you must do it legally and properly. Your attorney serves an invaluable role from beginning to end.

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