Do I Really Need an Attorney to Buy or Sell a home?

“Do I really need an attorney for this?” This is a question I hear all the time from buyers and sellers alike. The simple answer is “yes”. However, each state seems to have different requirements on this. Some states mandate it, while others leave it open as an option allowing agents and title companies to handle the bulk of the work. Illinois does not mandate it, although the standard protocol is to use one. And it is an extremely wise investment for the following reasons:

1. Financial: For most people, a home is the most expensive thing they will ever buy. The $300-$1,000 spent on an attorney is minute compared to magnitude of the transaction.

2. Complexity: The contract alone on a residential transaction is at least 13 pages. With all the disclosures, it is well over that. If you are a seller, you may also have a multi-page listing agreement. And as a buyer, you may have a loan package over 100 pages! A real estate agent or title company can’t give you advice about the legal implications of what is in all of those documents.

3. Objectivity: In Illinois, real estate agents and mortgage brokers are allowed a commission. Attorneys are not allowed to be paid a commission and therefore have no real “enticement” to close the deal. You can have peace of mind knowing that they are advocating for you and not just trying to get the deal done.

4. Drafting: Real estate agents are able to fill in the terms of the contract itself – but they are not able to draft deeds, contract riders, attorney modification letters, extension requests, etc. Only a lawyer can do this.

5. Protection: An attorney will help you avoid or minimize potential risks in your contract and explain to you the legal implications of what you are signing. Further, they are there to help you preserve the right to terminate the contract in the event you are unable to get financing or are unhappy with the inspection. They are also experts in reviewing titles and surveys to ensure you are getting what you bargained for and that you aren’t walking into a property with liens on it.

What all of this boils down to, though, is that a lawyer can ultimately save you money and make sure you are getting what you bargained for. These days home buying is extremely complicated and stressful. The best thing sellers and buyers can do to ease their minds and make the process go smoothly, is hire an attorney to help protect their interests.

If you are considering buying or selling a home, please contact a real estate attorney at Lavelle Law, Ltd. to assist you through the process. Attorney Kelly Anderson can be reached at (847) 705-7555 or