Selling a home can be a complicated process. Signing a contract, obtaining all the necessary documents, negotiating with multiple parties, and ultimately closing the transaction can be daunting.
Working with an experienced real estate attorney can provide a smooth closing process and ensure your interests are protected.
Below are six benefits in hiring a real estate attorney for your residential or commercial property sale.
1. Document Review
A real estate attorney can review contracts, bills of sales, deeds, the affidavit of title, insurance forms, settlement statements, pay-off letters, and more.
2. Disclosure Review
Some states require various disclosures at a real estate closing, particularly regarding the seller’s knowledge of potentially hazardous conditions. In Illinois, some of these disclosures include:
- Residential Real Property Disclosure Report
- Disclosure of Information on Radon Hazards for Residential Real Property Sales or Purchases
- Disclosure of Information and Acknowledgement for Lead-Based Paint and/or Lead Based Paint Hazards
3. Property Tax Prorations
In Illinois, property taxes are paid in arrears. What does that mean? Payments made in the current year go towards the previous year’s tax bill.
In real estate transactions, buyers request a credit from the seller at closing. This credit goes towards the estimated future property tax bill.
A real estate attorney can review any tax credit proration proposal in the agreement to ensure it is fair and accurate.
At Circle Closings, we have a dedicated property tax department that will also handles property tax assessment appeals for our clients from start to finish.
We also identify opportunities for a property tax appeal through our partnership with Appeal.Tax. Since 2015, they’ve saved residential and commercial property owners over $100 million in reduced property tax assessments.
4. Knowledge of Community Associations
Many states have distinct disclosure laws that obligate sellers to inform prospective purchasers about the home or unit they are buying within a condominium, homeowner (HOA), or townhome community association.
A real estate attorney can review these disclosures and documents to ensure they outline the association’s leasing restrictions, rules, regulations, and other owner obligations.
How is Circle Closings different? We’re powered by KSN; a law firm that has served our clients and their communities as legal professionals for nearly 40 years.
We’ve taken our experience and innovation in representing condo associations and HOAs to the individual owner during their buy or sell process.
5. Lender Questionnaires
Lender questionnaires can also be a part of a real estate sale if the property is part of a community association. These questions are asked because lenders are performing their due diligence to identify any potential red flags and risks that could impact their loan underwriting procedures.
To meet borrowing eligibility requirements, some lenders will require potential buyers to obtain a questionnaire addressing:
- The community association’s management
- The community association’s reserve funding
- Status of lawsuits of pending litigation
- Percentage of owners within the community association with delinquent assessments
A real estate attorney can review lender questionnaires to avoid inaccurate or incomplete documentation that could delay or cancel the closing.
6. Paid Assessment Letters
A paid assessment letter (PAL) is also known as an estoppel letter, or certificate of assessments. This letter can be required in the sale of a condo or home within a condominium, homeowner (HOA), or townhome community association.
The paid assessment letter includes a variety of information, including:
- The property’s address
- The buyer’s name and contact information
- The seller’s name and contact information
- The closing date
- The amount of the assessment
- The frequency of the assessment (ex. monthly, annual)
A real estate attorney can work with the appropriate parties (property managers, board members, etc.) to obtain the paid assessment letter needed to complete the sales transaction.
Some property owners may feel hiring a real estate attorney may be unnecessary or costly. However, an experienced attorney can protect your interests throughout the process.
Their ability to draft/review documents, resolve disputes, and aware of applicable laws (local, state, federal) can provide peace of mind as your advocate and guide in a residential or commercial property closing.
Our attorneys can walk you through the real estate closing process, pay attention to the details, and protect your interests during this important transaction.