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Note: The below information is not legal advice and does not establish a lawyer-client relationship. Your situation and circumstance may involve different strategies and advice. These are general statements and are not intended to be relied upon by you without further consultation.

Do I need an attorney to buy or sell a house?

It is not required by law to have an attorney, but it is the custom in the Chicagoland area that a seller and buyer will each be represented as an attorney. Whether you are the buyer or the seller, the attorney’s role is to represent you and protect your interests in the transaction.

What happens at a closing?

In Illinois, a closing typically takes place at a title company office, and their role is to act as the representative of the buyer’s lender. The buyer will review and sign all of the lender’s documents for the mortgage loan, and those required by the title company (see above). The seller will sign their documents to transfer title to the buyer, or their attorney will bring their pre-signed documents to closing. Once the title company gathered all the signed lender documents, all the signed seller documents, has received mortgage money from the mortgage lender and money needed from buyer, they pay all the charges listed on the HUD-1 and complete the closing. Most buyers walk out after closing with the keys to their new home. The deed and mortgage are then recorded.
In other areas of the country, buyers may close through an escrow company, who takes in the documents from all the same parties, but the buyer and seller do not typically meet at the table to close. Rather, they independently submit their signed documents, and the title company completes the close of escrow upon recording of the deed.

What is a deed?

It is the document that transfers title from the titleholder of record to another party, often the buyer.

Why does the Deed say $10, when my home is worth a lot more?

A Deed, to be a transfer for value, has to show at least a nominal amount on its face. $10 has become the customary amount shown. It does not affect the purchase price in any way. Some states require that the actual purchase price be used, but in Illinois we only use the nominal consideration.

What is a short sale?

A short sale is the sale of a property where the proceeds from the sale will not be enough money to pay off the seller’s mortgage(s). In such a situation, the mortgage lender must approve the contract between the buyer and seller, as well as all of the closing figures. The lender may agree to waive any deficiency, or the lender may require that the seller sign a personal note for the unpaid balance.

What is a notary public and why do some documents require a notary seal?

A notary public is a public official commissioned by the State to administer oaths and affirmations, witness signatures, and perform other duties that are permitted under state regulations.
Notaries are most commonly requested to act as the official, unbiased witness to the identity and signature of the person who comes before the notary for a specific purpose. Certain documents must be signed in the presence of a Notary because of their purpose and use. The information contained within those documents must be relied upon and may have monetary or significant value (i.e. Deed, Power of Attorney).

What is a HUD-1?

The HUD-1 Settlement Statement, sometimes called a RESPA for short, is the official closing statement of a residential real estate transaction, especially if a mortgage is being obtained by the buyer. It details all of the closing costs between the buyer and the seller, as well as between the buyer and their lender.