Real Estate Transactions and Litigation

Residential Real Estate Practice

For our residential clients, we understand that buying or selling a home is one of the is one of the biggest investments we make in our lives, and the process can be daunting. Our attorneys have closed hundreds of real estate transactions for our clients, so we know how overwhelming and stressful this can be. Our attorneys work as a team with clients, realtors, lenders and title companies throughout the transaction, every step of the way, from the time a contract is signed through the closing. We take pride in giving each and every client our personal attention; in fact, each one of our clients has our cell phone numbers so they can call us any time of day. We strive to give our clients peace of mind so that when they sit down at the closing table, they know that there won’t be any problems, and they will be able to close that deal!

Our attorneys are also skilled and experienced litigators, not afraid to go to court when necessary. We assist our clients with:

  • Residential and commercial contract disputes
  • Residential and commercial lease disputes
  • Fraud and misrepresentation
  • Construction litigation
  • Property defect litigation
  • Boundary disputes
  • Adverse possession
  • Title defects
  • Nuisance
  • Covenant violations
  • Brokerage commission disputes
  • Vendor/Contractor disputes

For ALL of your real estate needs, contact the attorneys at Mag Mile Law for a free consultation.

REAL ESTATE NEWS AND BLOG

MAY 24, 2022. SETTLEMENT REACHED BETWEEN ILLINOIS REAL ESTATE LAWYERS ASSOCIATION AND ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF FINANCIAL AND PROFESSIONAL REGULATION OVER USE OF THE REAL ESTATE DISCLOSURE STATEMENT.

The Illinois Real Estate Lawyers Assocation (IRELA) and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) recently reached an agreement regarding the IDFPR's use of a new Disclosure of Financial Interest (DS-1) Form which was scheduled to go into effect on March 1, 2022. Since its adoption, the Illinois Title Insurance Act has required that a Disclosure of Financial Interest be made by any producer with a financial interest in the title insurance company, independent escrowee, or title insurance agent, to any party paying for the services of any entity to which they are referred. The disclosure is required to be made before the title insurance commitment is issued.

Under the agreement, the IDFPR shall not use, implement, require or enforce the DS-1 Form that was scheduled to go into efect on March 1, 2022; rather, it shall not require the use of any form for disclosure of financial interest other than the 1997 DS-1 Form titled "Disclosure Statement Controlled Business Arrangement" for at least the next 3 years. In addition, the IDFPR will not enforce the use of the 1997 DS-1 Form if the only interest a producer of title insurance has is the receipt of a percentage of the premium for the transaction at issue, or any other interest that is not an ownership interest, legal or beneficial.

For all your real estate needs, reach out to our real estate attorneys at info@magmilelaw.com or call (708) 576-1624.

MAY 18, 2022. ILLINOIS REAL PROPERTY DISCLOSURE ACT REVISED.

The Residential Real Property Disclosure Act was recently revised and became effective on May 13, 2022. There is a new form for sellers to complete and provide to buyers prior to signing a contract to sell residential property. We recommend that sellers who have completed disclosure reports after May 13, 2022 complete a "new" report. Some of the revisions include the definition of "seller," certain clarifications for seller exemptions, new language that makes it abundantly clear that sellers must amend the report if they gain new information about the property that would change their response, and clarification that the report must be provided before the signing of a contract. The list of enumerated questions remains substantively the same, with some minor tweaks.

If you need a copy of the new disclosure report, please email us at info@magmilelaw.com

MAY 16, 2022. WHAT IS EARNEST MONEY?

In a real estate deal, earnest money is deposited by a buyer within the first few days of a real estate contract being executed. It expresses the buyer's “earnest intent” to buy a property. The amount of earnest money that a buyer puts down varies, but usually it's around $1,000 to $5,000. A buyer who wants to make a stronger offer will put down more earnest money. Earnest money is held by an escrowee for the benefit of the parties; it is usually a real estate company, an attorney’s office or a title company. The check is made payable to that company. The earnest money provides the consideration to make the contract effective. If earnest money is not tendered within the time frame required by the contract, there is no contract. The earnest money is ultimately sent to the title company and is credited to the amount of money the buyer needs to close the deal.

Clients frequently ask when earnest money can be kept by the seller. There are a number of provisions in a real estate contract that, if not satisfied, require the earnest money to be returned to the buyer. The main provisions include the attorney review, home inspection, and mortgage contingency provisions. Under the attorney review proivision, either attorney has the opportunity to disapprove of the contract within the first 5 business days after the contract being ageed upon, with the earnest money being refundable to the buyer. Similarly, if the parties cannot reach an agreement on home inspection issues, the earnest money is refunded to the buyer. Where a mortgage is involved, if the buyer does not receive a loan approval and the loan approval is denied within the mortgage contingency period, the earnest money is refunded to the buyer. However, if a buyer or a seller breaches the terms of the real estate contract, the escrowee doesn’t have the right to unilaterally determine who gets the earnest money. If both parties agree in writing that the earnest money is to be released to either party or if some compromise is reached, then the escrowee can return the earnest money as instructed. Beyond that, one of the parties would need to file a lawsuit against the other party, and a judge would determine where the earnest money needs to go. 

This is only a general overview of earnest money. Mag Mile Law has very experienced real estate attorneys with years of experience representing both buyers and sellers of real estate all across the Chicagoland area. If you are buying or selling a home, email info@magmilelaw.com or call (708) 576-1624 today!

MAY 5, 2022. IVELJIC QUOTED IN ARTICLE ABOUT BUYING HOMES FOR CASH.

Mag Mile Law Partner Mario Iveljic was recently quoted in an article about how to pay cash for a home. In a seller's market, buyers need to find ways to make their offers stand out. One way - offer to pay cash for the home. But, you need to keep certain things in mind before doing so. Purchasing a home is a big investment and not everyone can (or should) offer to pay cash only!

Read the full article here. For more information, contact us at info@magmilelaw.com or reach out to one of our attorneys directly.

MARCH 25, 2022. WHAT IS A CLOSING COST CREDIT?

If you are buying a home, you might request that the seller provide you with a credit at closing because your home inspector discovered certain defects in the home that require repair or immediate attention. Buyers generally want to receive as large a closing cost credit as possible. But, when thinking about how much of a credit to ask for, make sure you understand beforehand what your estimated closing costs will be. If your closing cost credit is more than the actual closing costs, you will not receive the full closing cost credit. Rather, you'll only receive a credit for the actual closing costs. You may want to consider a closing costs credit in combination with a price reduction. This is where an experienced real estate attorney helps. We have walked clients through this exact scenario and know how to handle it. 

For your real estate needs, contact us at (708) 576-1624 or info@magmilelaw.com

FEBRUARY 20, 2022. IVELJIC QUOTED IN ARTICLE ABOUT REAL ESTATE TRANSFER TAXES.

Mag Mile Law Partner Mario Iveljic was recently quoted in an article about real estate transfer taxes. Buyers and sellers of real estate should know what these taxes are, how they are calculated, who pays them, and how they are paid. The taxes could cost thousands of dollars and ultimately change your bottom line! 

Read the full article here. For more information, contact us at info@magmilelaw.com or reach out to one of our attorneys directly.

OCTOBER 1, 2021. ARE ORAL CONTRACTS ENFORCEABLE?

Not every contract has to be in writing. In some instances, oral contracts are enforceable. The most basic requirement of every contract - written or oral - is that the parties must be competent to form a contract. In Illinois, a presumption exists that a person of mature age is sane and has the mental capacity to contract. As long as the party in question can understand the nature of the transaction and protect his or her interests, the court will find him or her mentally competent and validate the transaction.

In order for an oral contract to be enforceable, there must be an "offer" and an "acceptance." An “offer” is the act of one person that gives another the legal power of creating a contract. The offer must have definite material terms or require definite terms in the acceptance so that all promises and performances to be rendered are reasonably certain. Acceptance of an offer must comply strictly with the terms of the offer. Any variation or modification of the terms of the offer constitute a rejection and creates a counteroffer. In addition, the acceptance must be objectively manifested, meaning that, generally, silence cannot be relied upon to establish an acceptance of an offer to enter into a contract. In certain circumstances, acceptance may be implied from the conduct of the parties. 

Some contracts MUST be in writing. The Illinois statute of frauds (740 ILCS 80/2) generally requires the following common types of contracts (among others) to be in writing: (1) any contract for the sale of lands; (2) any contract for a longer term than 1 year; (3) contracts assuming the responsibility for another person’s debt; (4) contracts involving the sale of goods over $500; and (5) certain promises made by executors and administrators of an estate.

If you need legal assistance regarding a contract, written or oral, contact the experienced attorneys at Mag Mile Law for a free consultation by calling (708) 576-1624 or emailing us at info@magmilelaw.com.

SEPTEMBER 1, 2021. CAN I CANCEL MY REAL ESTATE CONTRACT IF I FIND ISSUES IN THE HOME AFTER THE CONTRACT IS SIGNED?

You finally found a home that you love and a seller that agreed to sell it to you. You sign a contract with the seller. But, when you conduct your home inspection, the home has issues that you did not see or know of when you made the offer. Can you get out of the contract?

The short answer is, most likely, yes. In Illinois, the form real estate contracts allow the buyer time to conduct a home inspection after signing a contract and to advise the seller of issues they found with the home during that inspection. Usually that deadline is 5 business days after the contract is signed by both parties. In a letter usually sent by the buyer's attorney to the seller's attorney, the buyer's attorney lists all the "defects" with the home and requests that the seller repair those defects before closing or provide a credit at closing for the cost of repairing those defects. Under the form contract, not every issue will be a "defect" that the buyer can request a repair or credit for; the defects must be to the major components of the home (not simply that a door is off a hinge or other "cosmetic" issues). If the parties cannot agree on what repairs, if any, will be done or what credit will be provided at closing, the buyer has the right to cancel the contract.

It is important for both the buyer and the seller to keep the deadlines in mind and to make sure that none of the deadlines are missed. That is why it is important for both sides to hire competent real estate attorneys to take them through the process and to provide counsel all along the way. If you need a real estate attorney, contact the experienced attorneys at Mag Mile Law by calling (708) 576-1624 or emailing us at info@magmilelaw.com.

JUNE 23, 2020. INTERESTS IN REAL ESTATE - WHAT ARE THEY?

If you have ever bought or sold a home, you received (from the seller) or provided (to the buyer) a deed that transfers the home. Sometimes the new owners take the property as "tenants in common." Other times the new owners take the property as "joint tenants." Other times the new owners take the property as "tenants by the entirety." What do these terms mean? Here is a quick explanation:

Tenancy in Common: each owner (tenant) holds an undivided fractional interest in the property. For example, a tenant in common may hold 1/2 or 1/3 interest in a property. The physical property, however, is not divided into a specific half or a third. The co-owners are entitled to possession of the whole property. Because they own separate interests, they can sell, convey, mortgage, or transfer their individual interests without the consent of the other co-owners. However, no individual tenant may transfer the ownership of the entire property. When 1 co-owner dies, that co-owner’s undivided interest passes according to his will or living trust.

Joint Tenancy: Title is held as though all the owners, collectively, constitute 1 unit, i.e., unity of ownership. Upon the death of a joint tenant, the deceased’s interest transfers directly to the surviving joint tenants. Essentially, there is 1 less owner. The joint tenancy continues until only 1 owner remains. A joint tenancy can be created only by the intentional act of conveying a deed or giving the property by will. It cannot be implied or created by operation of law. The deed must specifically state the parties’ intention to create a joint tenancy, and the parties must be explicitly identified as joint tenants. Co-owners who wish to terminate their co-ownership may file an action in court called a partition suit. Partition is a legal way to dissolve the relationship when the parties do not voluntarily agree to its termination.

Tenancy by the Entirety: Husbands and wives can use this special form of co-ownership for their personal residence. In this form of ownership, each spouse has an equal, undivided interest in the property. During their lives, they can convey title to the property only by a deed signed by both parties. One party cannot create a 1/2 interest and generally they have no right to partition or divide. A lawsuit against 1 of the spouses will not result in a lien against the house. On the death of 1 spouse, the survivor automatically becomes the sole owner. To create a tenancy by the entirety, the deed must indicate that the property is to be owned “not as joint tenants or tenants in common, but as tenants by the entirety.”

For all your real estate needs, contact the experienced attorneys at Mag Mile Law either by email, info@magmilelaw.com or by phone, 708-576-1624.

APRIL 22, 2020. COVID-19 UPDATE: CHICAGO ALDERMEN SEEK 12 MONTH GRACE PERIOD FOR TENANTS TO PAY RENT.

Ald. Matt Martin (47th) introduced legislation that would give Chicago renters who lost income during the COVID-19 outbreak a 12-month grace period to pay rent. Specifically, the ordinance would allow tenants a 12 month grace period following the date at which a stay at home order is rescinded to pay past due rent if the tenant is unable to pay rent during the stay at home order due to circumstances related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, including:

  1. Loss of income due to a COVID-19 related workplace closure.
  2. Increased or additional child care expenditures due to school closures or changed work schedules.
  3. Healthcare and other expenses related to being ill with COVID-19 or caring for a member of the tenant's household or family who is ill with COVID-19.
  4. Reasonable expenditures that stem from government-ordered emergency measures.

Critics of the rent abatement proposal argue that the ordinance will destroy what remains of privately owned low-income affordable housing, it would increase the homeless population, it does not adequately explain what would substitute for rent, it does not adequately protect property owners who will be unable to pay their mortgage/property taxes/utility fees without proper rent payments, and it will lead to a massive decline in the collection of property taxes, water fees, sewer fees and other revenue.

Think this ordinance is good for City of Chicago residents? Decide for yourself, and read the full text here.

What about landlords and property owners who need rent to pay for their mortgage, taxes, insurance and/or utility bills? Alderman Martin proposed another ordinance asking Governor Pritzker to enact payment deferrments for mortgage holders, citing to actions taken by California Governor Gavin Newsom and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. The proposed ordinance calls upon Governor Pritzker to help secure a commitment from all significant non-commercial lenders and servicers of residential mortgages in the City of Chicago to:

  1. Offer at least 90 days of mortgage forbearance to all borrowers that have lost income due to COVID-19 and wherever possible, offer payment plans that avoid a single "balloon" payment due at the end of the forbearance term.
  2. Waive or refund mortgage-related late fees for at least 90 days.
  3. Forego reporting the occurrence of late payments to credit-reporting agencies for borrowers that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19.

Read this proposed ordinance here.

APRIL 11, 2020. I AM THINKING OF BUYING (OR SELLING) A HOME. DO I NEED TO HIRE A LAWYER?

We strongly recommend that you hire professionals to help you buy or sell a home, and this includes real estate agents and attorneys. If you are a home buyer, a real estate agent will help you identify homes on the market that are in line with your requirements, and they will also be able to network with other real estate professionals to potentially locate homes that are not on the market which may be of interest to you. Likewise, if you are selling a home, a real estate agent will be able to help you identify what your home is worth on the open market, will be able to provide guidance about what steps to take, if any, prior to marketing the home for sale (such as making repairs, replacements, or home staging), and will be able to market the home for sale.

When you go under contract to buy or sell a home, an attorney will work with you through all the steps that are necessary to actually close the purchase or sale. This includes, among other things, reviewing the sales contract and modifying it if necessary, reviewing evidence of title of the property, ensuring that everyone complies with the terms of the sales contract, ensuring that all financial aspects of the transaction are reconciled at closing, obtaining and reviewing a survey of the property to ensure there are no adverse encroachments on the property, and ultimately guiding you from the time you go under contract through the time of sale. There are many steps that the parties need to go through before closing the deal, and an experienced attorney will ensure that all those steps are completed.

Also, you don't need to wait until you go under contract to retain an attorney. If you have an offer on the table to purchase your home, or want to make an offer, you can also consult with an attorney if you have any questions or concerns. There is nothing preventing you from waiting until you actually go under contract to hire an attorney to assist you. We have been retained in the past prior to our clients going under contract, and we work with real estate agents and clients as a team to help them make strong offers, go under contract and ultimately close the deal.

For more information about Mag Mile Law's real estate practice, or to retain us for an upcoming home sale or purchase, contact us today. Our attorneys have over 30 years of combined real estate experience, and we will help you close that deal! 

APRIL 1, 2020. COVID-19 UPDATE: REAL ESTATE CLOSINGS.

We are still closing deals! The attorneys at Mag Mile Law have closed several residential property transactions during the Covid-19 pandemic. Real estate agents, title companies and attorneys have come up with creative ways to help close deals, from video showings and walkthroughs to drive up closings. If you are thinking about buying or selling a home, know that despite all that is happening in our world, we can find a way to close your deal. Contact us if you have any questions or for more information.

FEBRUARY 21, 2020. IVELJIC SPEAKS TO HUNDREDS OF REAL ESTATE INVESTORS AT CHICAGO REIA CONFERENCE.

Mag Mile Law Partner Mario M. Iveljic spoke to over 500 real estate investors at this weekend's Chicago REIA 3-day conference in Schaumburg, Illinois. Iveljic spoke about the different types of asset protection available for real estate investors, and about the Illinois litigation process. It was the second time Iveljic gave this presentation for Chicago REIA. Contact us if you need assistance with your real estate investment activities, setting up a corporate entity, or for any questions you may have.

OCTOBER 4, 2019. IVELJIC SPEAKS TO HUNDREDS OF REAL ESTATE INVESTORS AT CHICAGO REIA CONFERENCE.

Mag Mile Law Partner Mario M. Iveljic spoke to hundreds of real estate investors at Chicago REIA's 3-day conference in Schaumburg, Illinois. He provided valuable insight on asset protection for real estate investors, and about the Illinois litigation process. Contact us if you need assistance with your real estate investment activities, setting up a corporate entity, or for any questions you may have.