Real estate transactions are formal undertakings. There are technical requirements at every step of the way, and the cost of having a real estate attorney take care of them is nothing compared to the costs of failing to do so. Here are four ways an attorney can improve the experience.
1. Preliminary questions
If you have questions about the contract or the property, you may contact your attorney before accepting an offer, or perhaps even before listing. There are a couple of real estate contracts commonly used in Chicago, but carry different implications depending on which form is presented and how it is filled out. The attorney can explain the differences to assist you in evaluating each offer.
2. Attorney review
The Seller accepts the Buyer’s offer by signing the contract and returning it to the Buyer. Unlike a typical contract in business, the contracts most commonly used in Chicago contain an Attorney Review Period for the first few days after the Seller’s acceptance of the offer. During those few days, the attorneys for each party can review the contract terms, and in some cases change or add terms.
This can be very useful to customize the contract to address any special situations or exclusions that you want either in or out of the deal. After those first few days, the ability to do this disappears. Therefore, it is to your advantage to have identified your attorney earlier in the process so that he can go to work immediately once you accept the offer.
Buyers frequently take advantage of the Attorney Review Period and request changes to the contracts. For the sale to go forward, the changes they request should be negotiated and agreed. A Seller who does not have an attorney to review the changes puts himself at risk. Some requests may be routine, but others may have significant legal ramifications – even if they sound innocent.
3. Managing the transaction
During the pendency of the contract, the Seller’s attorney is the main point of contact in addressing any issues raised by the Buyer’s side. He also coordinates the production of documents owed to the Buyer and other mechanics of the transaction. By taking care of these items, the attorney can keep the transaction on track and free you to focus on other things – including any move from the property.
As the closing gets near, the Seller’s attorney prepares the documents to complete the transaction. Legal and regulatory requirements have changed over time, often adding new levels of requirements and paperwork. The attorney will help the Seller cut through them and get over the finish line.