Real Estate Frequently Asked Questions
Below are answers to some of the questions our real estate attorneys encounter most frequently as we advise and represent homeowners in real estate transactions throughout the Greater Chicago area. We hope this information is helpful to you. If you have other questions, or if you need assistance in a purchase, sale, lease or other real estate transaction, contact Johnson, Westra, Broecker, Whittaker & Newitt, P.C. at our offices in Carol Stream, Chicago and St. Charles.
What do we need to bring to closing?
As the buyer, you will need to bring a cashier’s check (which cannot exceed $50,000) to closing. We typically advise clients to make the check out to themselves, and they can then endorse it over to the sellers or the Title Company at closing. The buyer’s lender and/or bank will make wire transfers of funds exceeding $50,000 for the purchase. You should also bring a photo ID and a copy of a valid homeowner’s insurance policy.
As the seller, you will need to bring the property deed, as well as a photo ID, and mortgage information for the buyer’s attorney. You should also bring final meter readings on the utilities, and proof of compliance with Illinois carbon monoxide detector and smoke detector laws. And of course, don’t forget all the keys and garage door openers, etc. The real estate attorneys at Johnson, Westra, Broecker, Whittaker and Newitt, P.C. will review the title search and inform the sellers of any other essential items that need to be addressed prior to closing.
What is a Transfer Disclosure Statement?
A Transfer Disclosure Statement or TDS is a document that should be provided to potential buyers by the seller disclosing any structural defects or other problems with the home, from non-working appliances to particularly bad or noisy neighbors.
What is a reverse mortgage?
A reverse mortgage, also known as a home equity conversion loan, is a way to receive cash in exchange for the equity you have built up in your home. If you are 62 years old or more and own the home you are living in, a reverse mortgage can help you when you need cash to cover a large expense or if your living expenses have outstripped your savings and other income. Of course, there are other ways to raise money with your home besides a reverse mortgage, including a conventional mortgage or home equity line of credit (HELOC).
Since a reverse mortgage reduces the value of your estate by draining the equity in your home, make sure you discuss your options with attorneys who are well-versed in both real estate law and estate planning. The lawyers at Johnson, Westra, Broecker, Whittaker and Newitt, P.C. can advise you on your options and help you with whatever transaction you decide is best.
If I can’t afford to stay in my house anymore, should I just leave it and let the bank foreclose?
If your mortgage payments have ballooned because an adjustable rate mortgage has reset and you owe more on the house than it is worth on the market, you may think the best thing to do is to cut your losses and simply walk away. However, letting the bank foreclose can continue to have negative repercussions. For one thing, a foreclosure will show up on your credit report and negatively affect your credit rating. Another thing to consider is that if the bank forecloses and sells the house for less than the mortgage balance, they can still come back to you and make you pay the difference, known as the deficiency. Even if the bank does not pursue you for the entire deficiency, there may be tax implications for the mortgage deficiency that the bank ‘forgives’. Better options may be to negotiate a short sale, a deed in lieu of foreclosure or some other cash for keys arrangement. Be sure to have an attorney advise and represent you in the process to get the best deal and make sure you will not be liable for the deficiency or have your credit score negatively impacted.