​I am thinking about selling my home on my own, without hiring a real estate agent.  What are some things I should  do?

It may be very tempting to sell your home without hiring a real estate agent to help you with marketing your property, given that you could save the cost of the real estate commission, which can run into thousands of dollars.   If you are in a hurry to move, however, a real estate agent could help reduce the amount of time your home stays on the market because of his or her access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and other vehicles for marketing your property.    The decision is up to you, ultimately.  

If you do decide to go the "For Sale by Owner" route or "FSBO" (pronounced "FIZZBO"), keep in mind that you will need to provide certain disclosures about your property.    The Illinois Residential Real Property Disclosure is one such disclosure form that a seller must complete and provide to prospective buyers.  In addition, other forms that may be required include:  a Radon Disclosure Form; and, depending on when the home was built, a Lead Paint Disclosure Form.    At this time, a Mold Disclosure Form is not a requirement in Illinois, but if a seller does fill one out, it is important that it is filled out accurately.  

As you can see, the particular disclosure required varies depending in part on the age and type of property for sale.  Of course, it is also important to have a contract form ready to use.   For more information about which disclosures and the type of contract a FSBO  party should use, please give us a call.   We are here to help.

I am thinking of making on offer on a house I saw.  Should I have a home inspection done?  

A home purchase is often one of the largest investments a person will make.   Because of that, it is wise to know what you might be buying. Performing due diligence includes finding out as much as possible about the major systems in a house, such as the heating, air conditioning, and electrical set up, among others.   

Most standard real estate contracts provide a certain amount of time for attorney review and inspection -- usually five days after acceptance of the offer.  While the seller and buyer can negotiate over just about any aspect of the contract during that time, the contract typically provides that the prospective buyer will, at his own expense, have a licensed professional home inspector inspect the home for such things as material defects and code violations.    These professional inspections may offer an opportunity for the buyer to request that the seller make certain repairs or compensate the buyer for the anticipated cost of making those repairs after the closing.  

What if the home inspector is negligent about discovering a material defect in the home?  Do I have any recourse?

​​This question highlights the importance of reading the home inspection agreement carefully so that you understand your rights in the event of a dispute.  Many home inspectors limit the amount of damages a person can recover to the actual cost of the inspection itself (often a few hundred dollars).   The inspection agreement may also have a provision requiring any dispute to go through binding arbitration rather than a lengthy trial.  

Be sure to understand fully what your rights are in the unlikely event a problem arises.  

Please feel free to call us with any questions.

I am a landlord.  What if my tenant moved out and left a big mess for me?  May I keep the security deposit?

Landlords have different obligations depending on the location of the property you rented and the number of units in the building in question.   For property located outside of the City of Chicago, the Illinois law (765 ILCS 710) applies to all landlords throughout the State of Illinois for residential property containing five units or more in an apartment complex or in a single building (note that tenants renting a single family home  may expect a return of a security deposit and/or a statement of how the security deposit was applied within a "reasonable" amount of time.   

Under the Illinois statute, a landlord may not keep any part of a security deposit unless he or she has, within 30 days from the date the tenant vacates a property, delivered an itemized statement of damages -- beyond ordinary wear and tear -- containing estimated or actual costs, including receipts (for estimated costs, the landlord must send a receipt within 30 days of the date of the statement) to the tenant. If such a statement is not delivered within 30 days, the landlord must return the entire security deposit to the tenant within 45 days from the date the tenant vacates a property.  This does not defeat the landlord’s ability to recover from the tenant for damage later, which may prove difficult.    Instead, it limits the landlord’s ability to deduct for damage from the deposit.  If the landlord refuses to return the deposit, supplies a statement in bad faith or refuses to supply a statement, the tenant has a basis for an action in court for a return of the deposit plus a penalty of double the amount of the deposit being held plus court costs and attorney fees.

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