Selling Your Home – Frequently Asked Questions

Selling your home takes a team of professionals. We specialize in representing sellers and have formed relationships with the area’s top surveyors, title companies and contractors to help you close quickly and inexpensively.

The Contract

Attorney review refers to the time frame that buyers and sellers have to hire an attorney, have them review the contract, and either cancel the contract for any reason other than purchase price, or suggest modifications to it. This time frame 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 buyer’s attorney requesting an extension.

No. The standard multi-board contract does not contain provisions that need to be changed from a seller’s perspective.  If there is a mistake or error in the way the contract was filled out, we may request changes to correct the mistake.

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. Sellers in particular must prepare several legal documents at the closing to clear the title and legally transfer the property to the buyers- for this reason most sellers hire lawyers. Failure to prepare documents correctly to transfer title can lead to lawsuits in the future.

Please request a quote through our online portal to estimate your closing fees.

Yes.  For abnormal amounts of emails and telephone calls from a seller we are sometimes forced to raise our standard fee.  You will be notified prior to this occurrence if your emails and telephone calls become excessive.

Yes.  We often will advance costs on our seller’s behalf when we are requested by you to do so.  This includes paying for surveys, water certifications, well and septic tests and association documents. We will always verify with you prior to ordering, and you are welcome to order these yourself if you wish to. Seller’s attorneys also act as title agents in Illinois and are compensated for the title work they perform.

Our fees and all costs advanced are paid at the closing and are added to the other closing costs you must pay, such as your realtor fees and title fees.   You do not need to write a separate check.  If you are receiving proceeds from the sale, your legal fees will be deducted from the proceeds.  If you must bring money to close, they will be included in the final number we provide you. For more information, see below in the closing section.

Tell our office no later than the first five business days after signing the contract.

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

The realtors if you have them.  Otherwise, our office can hold the earnest money in our trust account.

It means your realtor represents both you and the seller.

Our office will order the title for you.  We are agents for almost all major title companies in Illinois, and we will choose a title company that works best for your transaction.

No.  Burnet Title does not have an attorney agent program and therefore we will not work with them.

It depends.  Not all title companies are created equal, so it is best to call or email our office before agreeing to work with a certain title company.  We have seen them all- the good and the bad and would be happy to guide you in selecting one that works best for your transaction.

The buyer’s lawyer will send our office a list of all the items the buyer wants you to repair as a result of the inspection.

Yes.  One of our lawyers will attend the closing on your behalf. In rare circumstances, when the Buyer’s side and the Seller’s side of a transaction cannot agree to a closing time and location that works for everyone, we will drop off all the originals for the closing and sign other documents remotely.

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The Inspection 

In Illinois inspections are not required, but almost all buyers have one performed.

Immediately.  The buyer has five business days from the date you signed the contract to have the inspection performed.

No. You should not be at the premises during the inspection.  If you must be home, you should not speak to the inspector or buyer during the inspection.

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 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.

Sometimes.Largely it depends on what the Buyer is requesting and what they are not. See below for more information about why you may not want the Buyer to send the entire inspection report.

Sellers in Illinois are deemed to have legal knowledge of all defects contained in an inspection report they receive.  If the buyer sends the entire report and the deal falls through for some reason, you may be legally obligated to disclose all of the contents of the previous inspection to any new buyer down the road.  As such, we rarely recommend asking the Buyers for a copy of the full inspection.

Yes- but we would advise against it for the reasons given above.  You will be forced to disclose all the defects found in the report to the next buyer or face liability for failure to disclose on the Illinois Real Property Disclosure Form.  Also, the buyer is under no obligation whatsoever to give you the report as they paid for it.

Sellers have three options when deciding how to respond to repair requests:

  1. Decline to fix the item altogether.
  2. Agree to fix / replace the item using a licensed contractor and provide receipts evidencing the work at least three days prior to closing.
  3. Offer a credit to the buyers in lieu of repair to some or all of the items they have requested.

Yes. Since our office and most real estate attorneys offer very low flat fees for real estate closings, we do not have the ability to draft formal letters back and forth to one another without charging our clients additional money.  The handwritten and signed letters are legally the same as a typed response.

Yes. It is very hard for buyers to schedule an inspection, receive the report, review it with their lawyer and send a formal letter in the first five days.  As such, it is very common for buyers to  request extensions ranging from a couple days to a week.

If no agreement is reached within ten days of the date you signed the contract, then either you or the buyer may cancel the contract.  The buyer will receive their earnest money back.

You should, although you are not obligated to, have the radon remediated and provide successful retest results to the buyer.  Knowledge of radon in Illinois requires disclosure on the part of the seller.  As such,  if you refuse to pay for the remediation now, you will likely end up paying for it in the future because you are required to disclose it to all future buyers.

Typically, between $1500-$2500 depending on the size of the home.  You must also provide retest results showing that the remediation was successful.  The retesting costs an additional $200-$400.

No. The buyer can still have inspection performed, and they can cancel the contract in the first five business days if the inspection reveals major issues with the home, but they cannot ask the you to repair any items.

There is no set time frame for us 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.

You must provide paid receipts for all work performed to our office no later three days prior to closing.

No. You must refund the earnest money to the buyer.

Most sellers think their buyers are being unreasonable and most buyers think sellers are being unreasonable.  The important thing to remember is that selling your 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 buyer agrees to it.

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Mortgage

We will take care of making sure the loan is paid in full at the closing from your proceeds from the sale.

Usually two weeks priors to closing.

We will ask you to provide us with the 1-800 or 1-866 number for your lender, the name of your lender, and the account number for you loan.  We are usually able to order the payoff with this amount of information.

If you are closing within two weeks of the date your mortgage payment is due, you should NOT make your last mortgage payment. If you are closing later than two weeks after your payment, then you should make your mortgage payment ASAP so that we can order the payoff in enough time.

You need to call your lender to find out how this money will be refunded to you.  Some lenders will include the escrow amount in their payoff figures, others will refund the money to you after closing out your loan.  It is important that you contact them to find out exactly how you will receive the escrow back. Lenders usually will not disclose this information to our office.

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Survey

Yes, if you own a single-family home or a townhouse with its own lot number, your contract requires you to provide a survey that was completed in the last six months.

Rarely.  If you bought the home in the past five years, and you have made no changes to the home since you bought it that would be reflected on the survey, it is possible that the buyers will accept the old survey.  You need to let our office know about this situation within the first five days of signing the contract, so we can request to use an old survey.

Our office uses several different survey companies depending on where you live.  Most surveyors charge you to travel, so we choose one that is close to your area.  Depending on where you live, we may call multiple surveyors to find one for the best price.

Somewhere between $500-$700 depending on the size of your lot.

Usually not.  The surveyors need access to your yard, but not your home.  If your home has a gate, then yes you need to be home to let them in.

Absolutely – so long as they are licensed. Please let us know this ASAP so we do not duplicate efforts and order one on your behalf.

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Homeowners Association

A lot of information.  We need the rules and regulations, bylaws, minutes from the last two years of meetings, their financial statements, budget, a 22.1 disclosure form, and most importantly a paid assessment letter.

Our office will work with you to order them.  Often times, we are able to order them on your behalf.  You need to give us the contact information of the association.  We will order the documents for you but note that almost all associations charge a fee for the documents.  The fees are often as high as $500 for the required documents.

You will need to provide us with your credit card information so we can prepay for them.

No.  You still must provide a paid assessment letter to the buyer, which is usually what costs the most amount of money to obtain.  Also, you need to provide updated documents that include current information.

It is a letter stating the amount of the monthly assessment for your unit or home, that this assessment is paid and up to date, when the last payment was made, and any amounts due at closing. It is required in Illinois to sell your house.

We agree. In the past few years many associations have hired management companies that outsource the production of paid assessment letters and 22.1 disclosure documents. These management companies often charge extraordinary fees to produce very simple documents in an effort to make more money. Unfortunately, there is nothing our office can do about this – it was a decision your specific association made when they hired or outsourced to that company. We suggest you bring it up to the Board so at least it does not happen to future sellers.

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The Buyers Financing

The buyer will likely ask you to decrease the purchase price to the appraised value.  If you refuse to do, the buyer may cancel the contract and they will receive their earnest money back if they are unable to obtain their mortgage due to this.

You cannot receive more money for a high appraisal.

No.  Usually, the buyer only sends the appraisal to the seller when the home does not appraise for the purchase price and they are asking the seller to reduce the purchase price.  The buyer pays for the appraisal and they own the rights to it.

This is the final date for the buyer to obtain financing.  If the buyer is unable to secure an approved loan by that date, the buyer can cancel the contract and receive their earnest money back.

This term is used by lenders and lawyers and refers to the buyer’s lender issuing an unconditional promise to give the buyer a loan for the amount called for in the contract.

You have a couple options.  You can agree to the extension or you can decline it.  If you agree, it may delay the closing depending on how long they are asking for.  If you decline, the buyers can, and likely will, cancel the contract and receive their earnest money back.  For this reason, most sellers grant the mortgage contingency extension requests as long as they are for a reasonable period of time.

No. Lawyers only get involved in the legally significant events of the transaction and the buyer’s financing is not a legally significant event for a seller. Additionally, Lenders are not permitted to disclose many aspects of a buyer’s financing.

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The Closing

It depends on a lot of factors.  Here is a list of items that most sellers need to pay for in a standard closing:

  1. Realtor fees (usually 5-6%)
  2. Attorney fees – please see our online calculator.
  3. Title Fees- these range greatly depending on purchase price.  They range from $2500-$7500 although a general average is $3,000. Our office will give you an exact tile fee quote within a couple of weeks of opening your file.
  4. Survey (If applicable) somewhere between $500-700.
  5. Well and Septic (If applicable)- $350
  6. Association Paid Assessment Letter (if applicable)- $200-500.
  7. Taxes – Varies- see below

In Illinois, real estate taxes are paid in arrears, meaning this year, you are paying for last year’s taxes.  As such, at the closing, you must give the buyer a tax credit for the period you owned the home. This is usually prorated at either 105% or 110% because we assume that taxes will increase.

Not much.  You agreed to give a certain tax proration in the contract- if we are still within the first five days, we can try to amend that, otherwise, you must give the buyer a proration on the actual taxes.

The full value of the last tax bill prorated per the contract.

(Last year’s tax bill multiplied by 105%)/365) multiplied by the number of days between last year’s tax bill and closing.

Example: Last year’s tax bill = $1000 and Closing on January 31, 2019.
Tax proration: ($1000*105%)/365= $2.88 (Per diem tax rate).
2018 proration: $1050.
2019 proration (31 days): 2.88 * 31= 89.28.
Total tax proration: $1139.28.

Please note that at various times during the year, one of the tax bill installments will have been paid and the other will not.  Depending on the time of year, this will affect the above formula.

No- not unless the buyer will also qualify for the exemption.  A couple of rare exceptions apply- please call us to discuss this further.

Most of the time, yes.

The title company requires us to provide this for many reasons.  The main reason is that the sale will be reported to IRS for tax purposes.  If you are not comfortable giving out your SSN, you may personally attend the closing and fill out the IRS forms yourself.

A full copy of the trust and all amendments to it.

Death certificates, copies of their will or trust and any probate paperwork you may have.  It is a slightly more complex situation to sell real estate on behalf of a deceased person and therefore our office will provide specific advice in this instance.  We may also charge a higher rate due to the amount of paperwork involved.

We will not have an exact number for you until a couple days before closing.  However, we can usually give you an estimate three weeks prior to closing that is within a few hundred dollars of your final number. We cannot do it any sooner than this as you mortgage company will only issue a payoff that is good for thirty days.

We schedule the closing once the buyer’s lender issues a clear to close.  This is usually four business days before closing. If it is a cash transaction (no lender), we usually schedule one week in advance.

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

Approximately two hours.

The closing will take place at the title company closest to the property address.  Usually there is a title company within 15 minutes of the property address.  Common towns for title companies include Gurnee, Vernon Hills, Lake Forest, Northbrook, Skokie, Irving Park and Downtown Chicago.

No.  Most sellers choose not to attend the closing.  Sellers typically only have five documents to sign at the closing, whereas the buyer needs to sign hundreds for their loan.  As such, most sellers elect to have us sign for them using a power of attorney at the closing.

Let our office know ASAP that you do not want to be there.  We will prepare a power of attorney and deed for you to sign in advance. Both documents must be signed in front of a notary and we need the ORIGINALS back at closing.  Our typical process is to draft the power of attorney and deed for you and email it to you.  You then print both documents out, sign them and have them notarized and witnessed, and then mail the originals back to us. You may also come sign them at our office as we are all notaries.

Some municipalities require you to pay them before you sell your house.  If you live in a town that requires this, we will let you know and we will give you instructions on how to get the stamps and get them to us for closing.

  • Yourself and anyone else on Title.
  • A photo ID.
  • If you need to bring money to sell your home- a cashier’s check made payable to the title company.

Sign the documents to transfer ownership to the buyer.

If you are bringing less than $50,000 to close, you may bring a cashier’s check made payable to the title company you are closing at.  You may call the title company directly to get their exact name. If you are bringing more than $50,000 to close, you must wire the funds the day before closing.

You must call the title company to obtain their wiring instructions. Our office will not give out wiring instructions because of privacy concerns.

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

Either by check or by wire. If you want your proceeds wired, the title company charges an extra $40 to do so.  Otherwise you can have them mail you a check for the proceeds. Please let our office know which you choose.

Typically, one business day.  Please note if your scheduled closing start time is after noon, it is possible your funds will not appear in your account until the following business day. From there, your bank may place a hold on the funds.  You should speak to your bank directly about the length of the hold.

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Miscellaneous FAQ’s

Title insurance protects the buyer and their lender from someone claiming you did not have good title to the property at closing. Sellers always pay for an owner’s policy on the buyer’s behalf, and the buyer, if they have a lender, pays for their lender’s policy.

The final walkthrough is usually the day of the closing or the day before the closing.  The buyers should set this up with their realtor.  It is the buyer’s opportunity to review the property prior to purchasing it.

No- but it is considered polite to do so.  The property legally needs to be in “broom clean” condition.

You must have all of your possessions out of the home at least one hour prior to closing so that the buyer can do their walk through.

Maybe.  You will need to either have it fixed prior to closing or offer the buyer a credit so they can have the item fixed.

Not usually. This is a very complex issue and you need to call our office to discuss this.

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