Why Hire an Attorney When Buying or Selling Residential Property?

Illinois real estate lawyersAs a consumer, you make hundreds – if not thousands – of purchases each year. Some are small and require nothing more than your debit card, credit card, or cash payment. Others, such as the purchase and sale of residential property, require a larger investment. Learn how the aid of an experienced real estate attorney can protect that investment while also decreasing the chances of costly or unexpected delays and challenges along the way.

Practicing Your Due Diligence

Anyone that has ever purchased a used car knows that there is always a risk of purchasing a “lemon” – a vehicle that never seems to run properly and always needs repairs. Sadly, not everyone knows that this can happen with houses, too. A home with the gorgeous wainscoting could be hiding mold or fire damage underneath. Structures that do not give much access to the crawl space could have more foundation issues than originally thought. Due diligence, performed with the aid of an attorney, can reduce the risk of these costly and unexpected problems.

Avoid Vague and Unclear Contract Terms

Real estate contracts are long, complex, and potentially confusing documents that few individuals have the knowledge to decipher. Instead, they usually find out too late that they are responsible for more of the closing costs than anticipated, or that the real estate agent has added commission fees to the contract. Avoid such issues by ensuring you have an experienced real estate attorney on your side, long before you ever sign a single document.

Negotiate a Better Deal in the Purchase Agreement

The purchase agreement is one of the single most important documents in a residential real estate transaction, and not understanding it can cost you dearly. For example, it may be listed that the home was altered, but it may not have been done lawfully. If you do not know this before signing the purchase agreement, you could become subject to fees and fines, imposed by your county, city, or state, for the continued use of unlawfully built or zoned structures. Additionally, you would be responsible for the demolition or correction of the structure in question.

Contact Our DuPage County Real Estate Lawyers

Regardless of whether you are purchasing or selling residential real estate, contact Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC. Dedicated and experienced, our seasoned DuPage County real estate lawyers can protect your real estate investment. Call 630-665-2500 and schedule your personalized consultation to get started today.



Cybercrimes in the Real Estate Market – What Homebuyers Should Know

Illinois real estate attorneysCybercrimes may not be a new issue, but they have become more prominent over the past few years. In fact, you may have even heard about some of the biggest breaches, such as those that happened to Equifax and Yahoo. What you may not know is that these crimes are found in almost every industry, including the real estate industry, and changing your passwords, freezing your credit report, and upgrading your computer security may not save you. Learn what homebuyers are up against and discover how you can protect yourself during the closing transaction on your new home purchase.

Beware of Real Estate Closing Transaction Scams

Over the past year, hackers have intercepted more than $1 billion in real estate transaction money. Mostly, they target large transactions, but even smaller ones can be at risk. Two recent cases – one last May, in which a couple lost $1.57 million on a wire transfer of their settlement funds and one in January, in which a Denver couple lost $272,536 of their down payment – are prime examples of just how varied the targeted transactions can be.

Hackers start the process by finding an opening in the system or email account of a title company or real estate agent. They then track upcoming home purchases to determine which ones are scheduled for payment. Once they find a victim, they send an email, posing as the escrow agent or title company, and instruct the home buyer to wire funds to an account. The homebuyer assumes it is the escrow account, but it is not. Instead, it is a bank account owned by the criminal. Once the funds are in their account, they withdraw the money and disappear.

Protecting Yourself from Real Estate Transaction Scams

Homebuyers can protect themselves from real estate transaction scams by ensuring they verify all emails in which funds are requested. Contact the individual that sent it, either in person or over the phone, before wiring any money. An experienced real estate attorney can also provide protection by handling all the legal aspects of your home purchase transaction.

At Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC, we protect your interests during residential real estate transactions. Dedicated and experienced, we can review contracts, negotiate better deals, and even help protect you from hackers. Learn more about how our seasoned DuPage County real estate attorneys can assist with the purchase of your new home. Call 630-665-2500 to schedule your personalized consultation with us today.



Illinois Woman is Suing Zillow for Inaccurate Zestimate

Illinois real estate lawyersZillow is facing a potential lawsuit for its infamous “zestimate” tool. Filed by an Illinois woman, the suit alleges that the company has undervalued her home and made it difficult to sell. She is also claiming that the company is wrongfully providing appraisals, which should be considered a violation of the law. The case is already picking up steam, gaining recognition and support across the country, and that could mean drastic changes for real estate buyers, sellers, and investors.

Details of the Case

In her suit, the Illinois woman alleges that she has been trying to sell her townhome for some time now, but with no success, despite its prime location. She claims that her roadblocks are a direct result of Zillow’s inaccurate zestimate, which has allegedly valued her home using the sales of newly constructed homes in a less expensive part of the city. She is seeking an injunction and wishes for the company to either fix its inaccurate valuation or remove it entirely.

Zillow Defends Their Zestimate

Zillow claims they have done nothing wrong. Their zestimates are purportedly within 5 percent of the sale price of the homes they list a little more than 50 percent of the time, within 10 percent about 75 percent of the time, and within 20 percent almost 90 percent of the time. Further, their website explicitly states that they are not an appraisal service. That does not mean that visitors do not use their site for that purpose, however, and that could mean trouble since their accuracy rates leave much to be desired.

As an example, if Zillow were to fall within 20 percent of the purchase price on a $500,000 home, they have $100,000 of wiggle room. That amount is certainly enough to leave buyer’s thinking a home is overpriced, and it could potentially cause a homeowner to drop their price far below market value, which could result in a significant financial loss. On the other hand, this could drive up the price of a less than desirable property, potentially leaving buyers surprised when they pursue an appraisal of the home.

Why the Lawsuit Matters

News sources indicate that the Illinois woman has already been approached by other homeowners and realtors who want to turn the case into a class action suit. Such action could ultimately change the way that homeowners, buyers, and investors search for real estate. At the very least, it may bring attention to an issue that has been of great concern for quite some time.

Whatever happens in this case, it is important for all real estate buyers, sellers, and investors to know the importance of accurate valuations and due diligence. The experienced DuPage County real estate lawyers at Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC can help. Committed to your future and best interests, we can help you navigate the home buying, selling, or investing process. Schedule your consultation by calling 630-665-2500 today.