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Chicago Area
Residential Real Estate Transactions: 
A Checklist for Buyers

* Non-Chicago-area buyers – because this article is a brief summary of the procedural aspects of a real estate sale in the Chicago area, and not legal advice, it MAY NOT be applicable to you.

* Chicago area buyers – the info. in this article DOES NOT constitute legal advice and should be supplemented with the advice of an Illinois attorney..

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Whether he/she is buying a home near the lake right at the heart of the Windy City, or one that’s not far from the river boats in Joliet, or one that’s near the mall in Schaumburg or even one just close enough to the zoo in Brookfield to hear an occasional lion roar, the following checklist discusses some of the most important issues that a buyer of residential real estate in the greater Chicago area  will need to be mindful of once he/she has entered into a contract to purchase:

1.)    Professional Inspection.  If the buyer has not already done so by the time he/she hires an attorney, his/her attorney will highly recommend that the buyer have the property to be purchased inspected by a licensed professional inspector.  The cost associated with a thorough inspection by a licensed professional inspector (somewhere in the range of $200 to $500 in the Chicago land area) can save the buyer a dramatic amount of money in the long term.  At the very least, assuming everything is found by the inspector to be in perfect working order (which would be unusual), the buyer would have further peace of mind knowing that his/her new home has been given a clean bill of health.  Note:  Failure to have the property inspected soon after the contract is signed may forfeit the buyer’s right to do so because most contracts set a time limit for the buyer’s ability to notify the seller, and thus negotiate, issues raised by a professional inspection.

2.)   Mortgage Processing.  If the buyer intends to obtain a mortgage loan to help cover all or part of the costs involved in buying the new property, but has not yet applied for such a loan by the time he/she has hired an attorney, the attorney will remind the buyer that he/she must make such application as soon as possible.  Furthermore, the buyer should, at his/her earliest convenience, supply his/her attorney with the name, address and telephone number of the lending institution(s) with which the buyer will or has placed a loan application, as well as the name of the buyer’s loan officer and loan processor.  The buyer should also send his/her attorney a copy of the good faith estimate of Closing costs that the buyer will/did receive at the time the buyer applies/applied for his/her loan.

If, sometime prior to Closing, the buyer should be unable to secure the mortgage for whatever reason, the buyer should contact his/her attorney immediately.  The attorney(s) will attempt to secure an extension of time.  If the buyer fails to notify the seller of the failure to obtain the loan by a date referenced in the contract for such notification (i.e., the “mortgage contingency” clause), the buyer may risk defaulting and possibly forfeiting his/her earnest money deposit.  In order to help speed the process of receiving a mortgage commitment, it is imperative that the buyer maintains periodic contact with his/her lender.  Upon hearing that the lender is ready to issue a commitment, the buyer’s attorney can ‘officially’ schedule the Closing.

Jump Ahead
in this document:

Contacting the Utilities

Homeowner’s insurance

Surrender of Possession

Buyer’s Role at Closing

See Also:

Chicago Real Estate Attorney’s Checklist
for Sellers


The Typical
Residential Real Estate Transaction

Preliminary Matters


The Role of the
Real Estate Attorney


Hiring a Real Estate


Real Estate Seller’s Agent

Real Estate Buyer’s Agent

Real Estate Broker


Negotiating the
Real Estate Contract

‘For Sale By Owner’

Deciding Key Terms


Pre-Closing Matters

Mortgage Issues


The Closing

The Deed

Affidavit of Title
ALTA Statement


The Statute of Frauds


Doctrine of Equitable

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