Buying Your Home - Frequently Asked Questions

Buying residential real estate can be both an exciting and stressful process. Our team can help with attorney review, inspection issues, financing and the closing.

Attorney review refers to the time frame buyers have to hire an attorney, have them review the contract, and either cancel it for any reason other than purchase price, or suggest modifications to it. It is typically five business days from the date the seller signed the contract, but it can be extended if needed.

You may cancel the contract for any reason, other than purchase price, in the first five business days. This time frame can be extended by having us send a letter to the seller’s attorney requesting an extension.

Yes.  The standard multi-board contract has a few provisions that are challenging for a lot of buyers to comply with.  We have a standard letter that we send that makes these provisions easier for you to adhere to.

In illinois the majority of buyers and sellers of real estate hire attorneys to handle their closings.  It is not illegal to not have an attorney, but the system in illinois is designed to have attorneys handle closings.

Yes.  Sometimes our clients ask us to write a large amount of letters, counter-offers and addendums and as a result we must raise our fees. Additionally, if the amount of emails or telephone calls we receive from our clients becomes excessive we will charge additional fees for all emails or phone calls.  Our clients will be notified before this occurs.

Our fees are paid at the closing and are simply added to all other fees you pay at the closing. You only need to bring one check, payable to the title company, to the closing.  The title company then pays the attorneys, the realtors, the lenders and the seller.

A/I and AA refer to attorney review and inspection time frames.  It means your earnest money is due after the both lawyers have reached an agreement about all repairs requests.

The realtors if you have them.  Otherwise, our office can hold the earnest money in our trust account. There is an additional $100 fee for this service. 

It means your realtor represents both you and the seller.  In our practice, this occurs roughly 10% of the time.

Whoever is listed as the buyer on the contract is who will take title at closing.

It depends entirely on your lender, some allow it and other do not.  After you speak with your lender, if they agree that your spouse can be on the title without being on the mortgage, let us know and we will handle it at closing. 

In Illinois, inspections are not required, but almost all purchasers have one performed.  When you purchase a home in Illinois, you are buying it “as is” and the inspection can reveal the major deficiencies in the home.

Immediately.  Ask your realtor or us for referrals to quality home inspectors in your area as soon as the seller signs the contract.  Ideally, you should have the inspection performed within three days of the seller signing the contract.

No.  The standard contract in Illinois only allows buyers to ask the sellers to repair a very limited set of items.  This includes only the major components (i.e., electrical, plumbing, hvac, etc.) That are defective or non-operational at the time of the inspection.  The contract specifically states that just because an item is old or at the end of its useful life, does not mean it is defective, and therefore is not cannot be requested to be repaired or replaced per the contract. Often, non-lawyers will encourage buyers to ask for cosmetic or other non-covered repairs.  This can often result in excessive negotiation which can increase your legal fees and costs and which has no legal basis in your contract. Remember that items of routine maintenance such as hvac servicing or cleanings are not part of your inspection contingency.

Your inspector should provide you with a summary report of the inspection, which will identify the major concerns or hazards of the home. If they did not- you should ask for them make a separate summary page.

Sometimes.  It depends on how many items you are asking the seller to fix and where those items are addressed in the report. 

Yes and no.  Realtors and lawyers have seen a lot of inspections before, but we are not licensed contractors and we cannot tell you if something is major or how much it may cost to repair.  However, we can help you understand what your contract allows you to ask for and what is specifically does not.

Yes, but you need to ask for permission to extend the five-day period and you need permission to have a contractor come to the seller’s house first. You should talk to us about this asap if you think this is necessary.

No.  You can only ask for those items that are on the inspection report- call your inspector and have them change the report immediately.

Buyers have five business days from the date the seller signed the contract to do the following:

  • have an inspection performed;
  • review the inspection report;
  • send us an email with a list of all the items you want the seller to repair or address based on that inspection report;
  • have our office send the seller’s attorney a formal letter requesting repairs be made.

Let us know asap that you cannot meet this deadline and we will request an extension for you.  Note that most extensions are only a couple business days, so time is of the essence.

So long as you are still in the first five business days of the seller signing the contract, you may cancel the contract by notifying our office in sufficient time. Otherwise, a failure to reach agreement with the seller over repairs may enable a cancellation.

That is completely your decision.  Your realtor can provide more information and literature about radon and the hazards it poses. You can also find a lot of information about radon online.  In our law practice, we see roughly 1/3 of buyers have the radon tested.

Yes.  Often times, we send the initial list of repair items to the seller and explain that we need an extension of the inspection time frame for the radon only.  It helps expedite the attorney review process to make sure you close on time.

No. You may still have an inspection performed, and you may cancel the contract in the first five business days if the inspection reveals major issues with the home, but you cannot ask the seller to repair any items.

There is no set time frame for them to respond but 2-3 business days is standard.  If both the buyers and sellers have not reached an agreement on the repair requests within ten business days of the seller signing the contract- then either party may cancel the contract and the buyer will get their earnest money back.

The sellers will provide receipts for the work performed.  You can also verify much of these repairs at the walk-through prior to closing.

Yes, and they often do.  We cannot predict what a seller will say or do, but most of them counter.

Yes and no.  The seller’s also have five business days to cancel the contract for any reason.  Beyond those five business days, if the buyers and sellers cannot resolve the inspection items within ten business days, then either the seller or buyer can cancel the deal.

Yes. Your realtor will help you get the money back after the cancellation notices are sent.

Most buyers think their sellers are being unreasonable and most sellers think buyers are being unreasonable.  The important thing to remember is that buying a home is a business decision, an investment, and we encourage all of our clients to treat it as such and to take a long-term view of all areas of disagreement.

Yes, if the seller agrees to it.  In our attorney review letter, we can advise the seller that you are willing to accept a credit when you ask them for the repairs.

No, but you can specify that it be done by a licensed professional.

Ideally, the buyer receives them a few days before the closing.  Practically, they are often not given until we get to the closing.

No. Under no circumstances are buyers allowed to supervise work the seller does in the home.

It is important to shop around for the right lender. In addition to asking the lender about their fees and interest rates, you should assess the responsiveness of the lender. We always recommend going with the most responsive person you can find rather than the cheapest.  Slow and unresponsive lenders can wreak havoc on closings and delay your closing by weeks at a time. Generally, small banks and mortgage brokers provide greater levels of service than larger institutions but often charge higher interest rates.  Your realtor and our firm can make referrals to people we have worked with in the past and have liked.

Every time your lender asks you for something, get it to them within 1-2 days and stay on top of them.  Email or call them periodically to ask how everything is going.

Your lender requires the property to be appraised by an independent appraiser to determine its value.  Your lender should order this appraisal within two weeks of you signing the contract, so you should double check with them make sure it was ordered. The lender typically requires you to pay for the appraisal, and all lenders charge around the same amount for an appraisal. You do not and should not be there during the appraisal, but your realtor may decide to attend.

You may have the option of cancelling the contract or asking the seller to lower the price depending on the language of your contract.  The seller can but is not obligated to lower the price to the appraised amount.  In this case, the buyer can either pay cash for the difference between the appraised value and the contract price or cancel the contract.

Great! You do not need to pay more for the house, nor do you need to tell the sellers that the appraisal came back high.

This is one of the most important portions of your contract.  It is what allows you to cancel the contract in the event that you do not get a loan by a certain date.

This term is used by lenders and lawyers and refers to your lender’s unconditional promise to give you a loan for the amount they promised.  If you have received a clear to close by your mortgage contingency date, then you have satisfied your mortgage contingency.

This is the final date, as stated in your contract, for your lender to issue a clear to close.

First, you need to put pressure on your lender to meet this date.  Failure to do so is often an indication that your lender will not be ready to close on time and will want an extension of the closing date.  Second, you need to notify our office asap, so we can request an extension from the seller on your behalf.

Yes, but it may delay the closing depending on when you change, and the sellers can cancel or seek damages from you unless they agree to the extensions caused by the change in lenders.

It is a breakdown of all the fees you are charged at the closing.

TRID is a new lending regulation that took effect in October 2015 and it mandates disclosure of closing fees to buyers at least six days in advance of closing.

We schedule the closing once your lender issues a clear to close.  If you are purchasing with cash, we usually schedule one week in advance.

No.  You may suggest times that work best for you.

Approximately two hours, but it can take longer depending on your lender. But the closing needs to be scheduled based on a lot of people’s schedules including the buyers, the sellers, the buyer’s lawyer, the seller’s lawyer and the title company’s availability. If you are closing at the end of the month, it is even harder to get the time you desire as this is when title companies are the busiest.

The closing will take place at the title company closest to the property address.  The seller decides the title company they order from, but usually there is a title company within 15 minutes of the property address.

What do I need to bring to the closing?

  • You and your spouse if you are both taking title.
  • Money to close – either by wire or cashier’s check.
  • A photo id.
  • Proof of homeowner’s insurance.

Review all the lender’s documents and seller’s documents and sign everything.

Usually, once the closing is scheduled, you will receive a closing confirmation from our office, which states the address and phone number of the title company.  If the confirmation did not contain this information, you should google the name of the title company and location as most of their information is online.  If you still cannot find it, call our office and we will find it for you.

We will review the fees with you line by line at closing. If, after we have reviewed all the fees, you still think it is wrong, then let us know at the closing.

Usually not.  However, the home needs to be left in “broom clean” condition.  This means the floors are swept, but not immaculate. If you are worried about the cleanliness of the house when you purchase it, you should have a cleaning crew lined up for the day after closing.