Buying a home is one of the biggest financial undertakings most of us will ever experience – it’s also one of the most singular and unique.
For one thing, real estate falls into its own unique category as “real” property – broadly meaning land, and the structures affixed to that land. It is distinct from personal property, those tangible and intangible possessions other than land or buildings (like appliances, cars, stocks and bonds, and so on).
For another? Real estate transactions are complex and multi-faceted, with many moving parts and interested parties both competing, and working together. As a home buyer, it can be difficult to understand and manage all of these different elements as they come up, let alone advocate for yourself as you deal with sellers, agents, and interested third parties, such as condo associations, co-op boards, mortgage lenders… the list goes on.
For home buyers, an experienced real estate attorney can be a key partner. Once your real estate broker has helped you find your dream home, your attorney can be an invaluable resource, guide, and advocate as you head for the finish line, and prepare to take possession of your special new asset.
So, what are some of the tasks and roles that a real estate attorney will take up for buyers? In a typical real estate transaction, a buyer’s attorney is often going to be responsible for…
Dealing With Contracts and Other Paperwork
Buying a home can be complicated; the oversight and assistance of an attorney can help the process go more smoothly, at every step of the way. When you purchase a home, one of the most important considerations is the veritable mountain of paperwork that is going to accompany your transaction. As a buyer, your attorney will perform several key functions, including reviewing important documents and paperwork quickly and accurately, processing purchase and sale agreements, and examining title documents, including title insurance and the plat of survey. Along the way, your attorney can help explain this important paperwork to you in depth, so you know what you’re agreeing to and making necessary changes, as appropriate.
Handling Negotiations and Resolving Disputes
A real estate broker can help in many ways throughout the real estate transaction – but it’s essential to remember that they cannot provide legal counsel. Only an attorney can represent you in this way. As you move forward with the goal of purchasing a home, your attorney will be your advocate, negotiating on your behalf and with your best interest at heart. Throughout the process, an attorney can review key documents and implement contract changes, manage negotiations with other parties, lead communication on scheduling, and provide important updates, as necessary. If disputes, questions, or issues arise, your attorney can work to resolve these unforeseen problems, as well.
Performing a Title Search
In order for a home to be sold, it must be determined that the seller has a clear title on the home, and can transfer it to the buyer without any complications or issues. A real estate attorney can help coordinate and conduct a title search in order to determine if there are any outstanding issues – such as mortgages, liens, disputes, or judgments on the property – that need to be addressed in order for the transfer of title to be successful. If there are any obstacles that arise, attorneys can help work with the title company in order to ensure that the problems are resolved properly and swiftly.
Handling Filings and Recordkeeping
Much of the paperwork that comes along with a real estate transaction will need to be recorded, often at the county and state level. An attorney can help ensure that this important step goes off swiftly and efficiently, so that the transfer of property is legal and binding.
Addressing Financial Questions and Considerations
A real estate attorney can also be a useful resource when it comes to understanding and managing many of the financial aspects of your real estate transaction, including questions or considerations about property taxes, HOA assessments, and so on.
In many cases, your real estate attorney may also take responsibility for handling monies at different steps along the way. At the close of the process, for instance, it will generally be the attorney’s job to finalize the transaction, and subsequently disburse monies to all parties, including brokerage fees, local taxes, insurance premiums, mortgage broker fees, attorney’s fees, and sales proceeds.
Coordinating the Closing
Generally, attorneys will be responsible for calculating a closing statement, and will assume responsibility for scheduling the details of the closing meeting, including the date, time, and location. In addition, they will be responsible for thoroughly communicating all of the relevant information to their clients, including matters relating to cash flow, closing costs, and more. At the closing table, the buyer’s attorney will help walk their client through the final aspects of the paperwork, helping to explain and guide the signing of documents, including deeds, notes, settlement statements, loan documentation, and so on.
The Bottom Line on Buying a Home
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that there’s a lot that goes into buying or selling property in Chicagoland – from processing purchase and sale agreements, to handling title paperwork, to navigating the development, zoning, and tax laws unique to our area.
And while the process is often similar, no two real estate transactions are ever going to be exactly alike! As you begin the process of purchasing a home, it may prove important to partner with a real estate attorney who can offer you sound legal expertise and financial insight, tailored to your specific situation. At the end of the day, the elements that go into purchasing your home in the here and now can significantly affect your long-term financial goals down the road – including tax liabilities, access to cash, and estate transitions.
Have any questions? Looking to move forward with peace of mind? That’s where the Gunderson Law Firm can step in and help.
Our attorneys and staff possess unparalleled expertise and insight, bolstered by years of experience and long-term connections throughout Chicago’s real estate, finance, and insurance industries. We can help you put the right papers in the right places, addressed by the right people, at the right times, all in order to help you move toward your goals as efficiently as humanly possible.