Do You Need an Illinois Attorney to Sell Your Home?

Whether an Illinois real estate attorney is necessary when selling a home depends on many different things, however, when you have an experienced real estate attorney involved in the process, the peace of mind you will experience makes it well worth it for most. Currently, twenty-one states and the District of Columbia require an attorney to be a part of the closing process. While Illinois is not one of these states, the mere fact that many states do require an attorney should give you some insight into why having an attorney involved is important. As the seller of a property, it can be very exciting to accept a buyer’s offer, yet this is only the first step in an often-complex process.

Having a skilled Illinois real estate attorney from Vaclavek Hartman Vaclavek, P.C., ensures questions are thoroughly answered, concerns addressed, and that the seller’s interests are always safeguarded. From the moment the contract is signed our attorneys guide sellers through the process, reviewing the sales contract, communicating terms, handling title work, and attending the closing to ensure everything is as it should be. At Vaclavek Hartman Vaclavek, P.C., we protect the seller’s investment and assets while ensuring the transaction is legally conducted and costly missteps are avoided.


What is the Process for the Seller of a Home?

The selling process will include most of the following steps:

  • A listing agent or realtor will be chosen, or the property will be sold as an FSBO (For Sale By Owner).
  • A price for the home will be determined, or, even better, there will be an appraisal by a professional to determine the asking price. Overpricing a home can prevent a quick sale, so it is important to have a solid asking price.
  • Get the home ready for sale by cleaning and decluttering and ensuring curb appeal. Repairs that can be made should be made; some sellers consider an inspection to identify potential problem areas.
  • The home goes into the marketing phase, whether through a realtor or on the part of a seller for an FSBO.
  • The home is shown by the realtor or agent or by the seller. It is important to accommodate potential buyers to the extent possible.
  • A purchase offer—or multiple offers—is received, and the price is negotiated through a counteroffer.
  • A right of first refusal can be asked for if the buyer’s offer is contingent on selling their own home.
  • The buyer may ask for an inspection of the home or property.
  • Escrow will be opened, and a title policy ordered.
  • A closing date will be set once the buyer’s earnest money is deposited.
  • The seller completes a Disclosure form, detailing every known issue with the home.
  • The buyer may ask the seller to make certain repairs; the seller can refuse, but it could skewer the sale.
  • The title and escrow documents will be signed by the seller.
  • Closing will take place.

What is Involved in a Home Inspection for the Seller?

Homebuyers often ask for a home inspection to ensure there are no issues with the home they—and possibly even the seller—are unaware of. There are no specific rules governing whether the seller should be present during the inspection, although most buyers would feel at least somewhat inhibited to ask questions of the inspector with the seller present.

Real estate agents often ask sellers not to be present during the inspection, although the seller has the right to be present if he or she so chooses. It is rarely a good idea for a seller to shadow the inspector and attempt to debate the inspector’s findings.

The home inspector will look at things like the foundation of the home, the structural components, the roof, the HVAC system, and the plumbing and electrical system. A home inspection usually takes from two to four hours but can take longer, depending on how large the house is.

After the physical inspection is complete, the inspector will provide a written report, detailing any findings.  A Seller should make sure keys are available, pilot lights are on, the basement and any steps are tidy and unobstructed, the attic has access, and that drainage access points and septic tank areas are clearly marked.

What are the Seller’s Responsibilities at Closing?

Both the seller and the buyer have certain obligations to fulfill during closing. The seller must remove all personal possessions from the property (unless they have been specified as staying under the contract). Any repairs the seller has agreed to make should be completed, and the house should be cleaned prior to closing.

If there are manuals and warranties for items in the home, they should be left, along with keys to the home, spare keys, and garage door openers. If there will be time between the seller leaving and the buyer taking possession, water valves should be shut off to prevent leaks.

On the day of closing, the transaction will be officially complete. The seller will sign the paperwork, including signing the deed to the property over to the buyer. The closing will take place at an escrow office, a title agent’s office, or your attorney’s office. In most cases, the seller may be able to sign paperwork ahead of time and skip closing altogether.

How Much are Closing Costs—and Who Pays Them?

Closing costs are usually split between buyer and seller, although the buyer and seller can agree that one or the other will pay certain fees. Sellers may be responsible for the following closing costs:

  • Agent or realtor commission
  • Prorated property taxes
  • Title insurance
  • Transfer tax
  • HOA fees
  • Credits toward closing costs
  • Survey Costs
  • Well & Septic evaluations
  • Seller attorney fees
  • Any escrowed money promised to the buyer

Typically, escrow fees are split equally between buyer and seller. The escrow fee can be in the form of a flat rate or could be up to one percent of the total purchase price. 

What are Some Specific Instances When a Real Estate Attorney is Crucial to a Home Sale?

A real estate attorney will oversee the sale of a home from start to finish, reviewing the sales contract, communicating terms in a professional manner, and ensuring there are no closing mishaps. When a real estate attorney is guiding the sale process, the seller can rest easy, knowing his or her investment is protected and that there will be no costly mishaps. There are a few special circumstances that make having a real estate attorney even more important, such as:

  • There is an outstanding lien on the home, sometimes a lien the Seller didn’t even know existed
  • The sale is a joint sale with someone other than a spouse
  • The sale is a short sale
  • The seller is selling an inherited home

A real estate attorney can help sellers prepare a comprehensive home selling plan that may include an open house, finding a realtor, and having the home professionally appraised while analyzing surrounding homes that have recently sold or are on the market.

How Can Vaclavek Hartman Vaclavek, P.C., Help You with the Sale of Your Home?

The Illinois real estate attorneys at Vaclavek Hartman Vaclavek, P.C., can be an indispensable part of selling your home. Our attorneys can translate legalese into easily understood terms, answer all your questions, negotiate and coordinate with the buyer’s team, navigate laws and ordinances, assemble, prepare, and deliver all legal paperwork, and protect your interests from start to finish. Real estate contracts are legally binding, therefore having a practiced legal negotiator on your side can be crucial. Contact an experienced real estate attorney from Vaclavek Hartman Vaclavek, P.C. today for help with your real estate transaction.

Be In The Know

It’s always beneficial to sell before buying a new house; you may be tempted to browse through the internet to purchase your dream house just as your house hits the market, but our real estate lawyers will advise you otherwise.

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