Every day, people flock to Chicago, looking to buy a home, start their business, or build something that will leave a mark on the area forever. Others pack up and leave the city, and sell their homes, their buildings, their land. Still more look for answers that will allow them to keep their family home, avoid debt, or settle disputes, so that they can continue to live in the area that they’ve called home for years and years.

In all of these scenarios – and countless others – real estate law is going to come into play, in a big way.

Real estate law is a big concept, applied in many different ways. From assisting with contract negotiations and processing purchase and sales agreements, to resolving high stakes land or title disputes, to assisting developers get all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed, real estate attorneys are involved in many different types of transactions and processes.

As you look to buy, sell, or build in Chicagoland, it’s important to understand some of the core ideas behind real estate law for our area. Here are three big myths and misconceptions about real estate law, worth exploring in depth:

MYTH #1: Home Buyers and Sellers Don’t Really Need an Attorney

While it is not, strictly speaking, a requirement to have a real estate attorney on your team when you’re buying or selling real estate here in Illinois, it’s still somewhat of an unwritten rule. The vast, vast majority of buyers and sellers in Chicago and across our area are going to have legal representation on their side.

Why? Because, bottom line, having an attorney on your side throughout the real estate transaction ensures that someone will be there at every step of the way, looking out for your best interests above all else. Having an attorney behind you can help you rest assured, knowing that the process is moving along as efficiently as possible, and as fairly and transparently as possible.

At the same time, attorneys will have all sorts of diverse roles to play throughout the real estate transaction process, for both buyers and sellers. Throughout a sale, real estate lawyers wear many hats (sometimes literally), as they help to compile and process mountains of paperwork, negotiate contracts and agreements between parties, conduct a title search and examination, schedule meetings and communicating vital information, handle recordkeeping and financial disbursements, and bring to bear a wide range of working knowledge on matters from taxes to estate law and so much more.

MYTH #2: All Types of Properties Are Pretty Much the Same

Chicago has been called one of America’s architectural capitals. And we think that’s a fair assessment. Whether you’re looking to the gleaming skyscrapers of the Loop, the mansions of Lake Shore Drive, or the two-flats and bungalows that fan out across Chicagoland, our home base is full of countless types of buildings, each with their own character.

And with that in mind, it’s important to remember that no two properties – and no two real estate transactions or disputes – are going to be exactly the same.

On the one hand, it’s important to remember that no two real estate transactions will ever be exactly the same. There’s no such thing as “typical.” Whatever stage of the process you’re on, it’s crucial to keep this in mind. Whether you’re a family looking to build or buy the suburban home of your dreams, or a developer ready to construct new multi-unit housing in the heart of the city, the process will be different every single time. Even if you’re an experienced developer, it’s impossible to account for every variable that will come into play to impact your transaction, and your long-term future. Circumstances will vary based on factors unique to you, to the other parties in the transaction, to the overall health of the economy, to the nature of the land or the structure itself. You can’t go into a real estate transaction with a “one size fits all” mentality.

In a similar vein, it’s crucial to remember that different types of properties are going to be governed by different rules, regulations, and precedents here in Chicagoland. For instance, you may have to deal with one set of considerations if you’re purchasing a two-flat to develop it, and another if you’re buying into a condominium building. The process of purchasing and developing an empty lot is going to be very, very different than the process of purchasing and inhabiting a structure that has been designated as “historical” or significant.

We could go on and on. The most essential thing to take away is that no two properties or transactions are going to be exactly the same. You may think you know what you’ll be in for, only to have surprises come from zoning boards, easement granters, tax assessors, condo associations, or some other third party. An experienced real estate attorney can help you navigate these different groups with greater ease and peace of mind. When you have answers and insights specifically tailored to your unique situation,  it’s easier to move your project forward as quickly and smoothly as possible.

MYTH #3: Real Estate Laws Are the Same from State to State

To be blunt: You may already own a penthouse in New York and a retirement home in Florida. But if you’ve never bought in Chicago, then you haven’t seen anything yet.

While the nuts and bolts of the real estate process are similar everywhere you go, the reality is that the laws overseeing real estate are going to differ significantly from state to state – and even county to county. In some parts of the country, for instance, it is legally required that you have an attorney retained in order to buy a home. In other parts, it is not a requirement.

That’s only scratching the surface. The hard truth is that many different cities and states are going to have many different rules and regulations on all things real estate. That’s certainly true here in Chicago (and Illinois more broadly), which is home to many distinct lease and rental agreement laws, security deposit laws, commercial development laws, and so on.

It’s important to work with a legal professional with skills, insights, experience, and connections specifically tailored for the local area that you’re in. Their locally focused perspective could prove invaluable when it comes to getting dependable answers to your most pressing questions – as well as getting the right documents in front of the right people at the right times.

About the Gunderson Law Firm

At Gunderson Law Firm, our attorneys and staff specialize in helping individuals and businesses throughout Illinois with real estate transactions insightfully, promptly, and professionally. Our full range of real estate legal services includes:

  • Residential Real Estate
  • Commercial Real Estate
  • Purchases and Sales
  • 1031 Tax-Free Exchanges
  • Mortgage Conveyancing & Advice
  • Real Estate Litigation
  • Title Insurance
  • Title Examinations & Disputes
  • Asset Protection/Trusts
  • Estate Planning/Wills
  • Reverse Mortgages
  • Property Development
  • Condominium Law
  • Foreclosures

Whether you are a couple wanting to buy or build a house, a corporation converting commercial properties to residential, or a commercial developer looking to change the Chicago skyline, the Gunderson Law Firm can help you get through the process, bolstered by our team’s unparalleled expertise and insight, reinforced by years of experience and long-term connections throughout Chicago’s real estate, finance, and insurance industries.

Have any more questions about real estate law in Chicago, Illinois? Don’t hesitate to drop us a line or give us a call to arrange your free initial consultation.