For Sale By Owner- Do I Need An Attorney to Help Me Sell My Home?

Many people consider selling their home without a real estate agent in order to keep costs down. Illinois law does not require people to hire an agent or an attorney to sell or purchase property, but that does not mean it is a good idea. 

For those who don’t want or need a realtor's help to list and show the home, some agents will offer to draw up the contract, see that both parties sign it, and even send the contract to the title company.  Realtor’s listing agreements often give them the power to act as a dual agent for both the buyer and the seller.  While there is generally nothing wrong with this type of arrangement, problems often arise when there is a disagreement during the process of closing on a real estate sale. What many people don’t think about is that the realtor’s job is to sell houses, and to sell them as fast as possible to make the commission. 

House with lights onSelling real estate is often much more complex than people think. 

Banks have increasingly strict requirements that a buyer must fulfill before the bank will issue a loan.  Federally based lending programs through the Federal Housing Authority, US Department of Agriculture, the Veteran’s Administration and others require not just that the buyer be credit worthy, but also that the home the buyer is purchasing meets certain minimum standards. 

The signing of a real estate contract is merely the first step in a long process marching towards a real estate closing.  Generally, there are multiple inspection contingency deadlines, mortgage contingency deadlines, and other provisions such as further inspections and repairs, if necessary.  In the interest of streamlining and making the process “less complicated,” some realtors skip over these portions of standard real estate contracts when helping their clients fill out all the paperwork to buy or sell a home.

Attorneys serve a vital role in the home selling and buying process as independent advisors.  They are not paid by commission, but generally on either a flat fee or hourly basis.  Their only incentive is to ensure that their client is adequately protected.  Attorneys assist in the preparation of the contract, make sure the seller is able to convey clear title, free of encumbrances like tax liens and mechanics liens; prepare a deed and property tax declaration with the State of Illinois, any perform many other important functions to make the process run more smoothly. 

Buyers and sellers have enough on their mind; packing, moving, learning about a new town, researching school districts, and many other thoughts racing through their heads.  A good attorney will shepherd the process so their client can focus on more important things.

Attorneys also assist in negotiating disputes.  Most people assume there will never be a dispute, but if there is a dual agent realtor and neither the buyer nor the seller has an attorney, the parties must often negotiate directly with one another.  What if the termite inspection turns up positive, or the buyer decides that they want the drapes your grandmother made you?  What if the title work indicates that there is a lien on the property?  With the advice of competent legal counsel, these matters merely become temporary roadblocks instead of deal killers. 

Purchasing or selling a home is one of the most expensive and significant transactions many people experience in their lives, and many people often attach strong feelings to their homes.  Not surprisingly, tempers often flare because of the high stakes. Attorneys act as a buffer between the parties, allowing them to effectively negotiate without the excess emotion that would otherwise inevitably leak into the process.

If you are buying or selling a home, please give our office a call at 855-522-5291.  Our experienced legal team is ready to help you make the purchase or sale of your next home as smooth, and simple as possible.

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