The real estate market isn’t what it used to be. The prices home sellers in northern Illinois can ask are not nearly as good as they were ahead of the Great Recession of 2007-2008. Yet, it remains true that our homes are the single most important investment any of us makes. No wonder, then, that when the time does come to sell, we want to get the highest possible return on that property.

Agents still facilitate the majority of residential transactions these days. In some states, they might even be required. They are not in Illinois and that makes going the “For Sale by Owner” route attractive for many. In some circumstances, a FSBO sale can mean tens of thousands of extra dollars in the seller’s pocket. FSBO deals are not without legal risks, however. A skilled real estate attorney can help mitigate the hazards.

Selling is complicated

An attorney’s involvement can be particularly helpful in a number of specific areas. For example, the sale of a home may trigger an expensive capital gains tax for the seller. There are conditions under which the tax can be avoided, but it requires a full understanding of the law. A lot has to do with the timing of the sale.

Home sale transactions require legal documents. To make the sale go smoothly, you will need to be able to supply:

  • Proof you hold title to the property
  • A deed
  • The survey
  • Any and all statements related to outstanding mortgages on the property

As the seller, state law may oblige you to perform certain inspections and document the results. You also must in writing, inform a buyer about any known issues with the property, such as flooding risk or history, any existing unsafe conditions, or material defects in the structure or its systems.

All of these documents, including the contract of sale, can carry confusing legal language. And where there are misunderstandings, disputes can arise. An attorney’s review of papers can deliver confidence and minimize chances of costly litigation.