To offer a much shorter-handed answer than Paul's (which was quite thorough and useful), you do not "have to have" an attorney assist you with a property purchase or sale in Illinois, but as a cost effectiveness questions- it is a very minimal fee that you'd pay to potentially protect yourself from some very costly "mistakes" or omissions that you could make that would cost you quite a bit more over the long term. I'd STRONGLY suggest hiring an attorney if I were you.
Broker Associate, Sudler Sotheby's International Realty
I am actually a real estate attorney, so my answer may be a little biased :). Buying a property "as is" does not negate your need for an attorney in the Chicagoland area. It is not required for you to have an attorney, but almost every transaction in the area uses an attorney, and more than likely your seller will be using one. The typical attorney fee for the chicagoland area is $450 - $600, and in my humble opinion it is well worth it. Since I do not know the specifics of the property you are purchasing lets talk about a few issues I have had to deal with on "as is" transactions:
1. On a foreclosure/REO property (where the bank is the seller) and the property is a condo, there is an Illinois statute that allows the bank to pass up to 6 months of over due association assessments - in this case we successfully negotiated with the bank to pay these fees saving the client well over $1500.00
2. In Chicago there is a transfer tax that is imposed on the buyer and the seller. Sometimes the Seller will attempts (particularly if it is a foreclosure/REO property) to pass this $3.00 charge per every $1000 of purchase price charge onto the buyer so on a $150,000 proeprty it is $450.00, etc. We have sucessfully negotiated with the Seller to make sure these transfer taxes are paid for.
3. Even though the property is "as is" you should still have an inspetion period where you can have a certified insepctor take a look at the property to make sure there is not something significantly wrong with the property. In the event that you find something wrong we work with the Seller's attorney's office on the release of the earnest money. Ideally it should not be a problem without an attorney, but when you are unrepresented things often go less than ideally.
4. Even though the property is "as is" you should still have a mortgage contingencey clause on the property. This would be the last date that you can declare the contract null and void and receive the return of your earnest money. Your attorney's office should be communicating with your lender to insure that you have a mortgage commitment by this date, and if not, request an extension. It is important to preserve your rights under this clause.
5. This one is complicated for this posting, but here we go! Your taxes in Illinois are a year deferred (you pay 2008 taxes in 2009, 2009 in 2010). Check out my previous posts for a good discussion on tax prorations. Since you will be owning the property in 2010, you will be paying the full 2009 taxes -- but wait you didnt own the property for all of 2009 did you? So at your closing your Seller should be giving you a tax proration based off of the previous year's taxes. Usually in Cook County it is 110% of the previous years taxes. here is the problem - Cook has a reassessment of the property's value every 3 years - and even in today's market the property values are going up. Part of Chicago get reassessed for 2009 taxes. This means more than likely 110% is inadequate. Guess who normally negotiates that?
6. If this is a condo, you should get what is called the 22.1 disclosure statements - named after the section of the Illinois code that states what information the Seller should be providing the Buyer prior to closing. I have found that without an attorney you often do not get this information, or you get it at the closing and don't understand it's significance. This tells you about the financial health of your association, and helps us determine if a special assessment might be around the corner that you will have to pay. We have saved clients thousands of dollars investigating this.
7. If is a single family home, the seller should provide a survey (if it is a foreclosure/REO bank owned proeprty they will not). Without a survey your title insurance policy lacks important coverage for you as a home owner. (Now these are real examples btw) What happens when you get to closing and the property ends 20 feet short of where you thought the property line was, or your driveway is actually on your neighbors property, or the neighbor built a new garage on your property, etc. There are a bunch of other examples, but I think you get the point.
These are just a few examples, I didnt get into a lot of other issues (Trulia also limits the number of characters I can post!), but suffice to say, in my opinion, for the fee, and this being probably the largest investment of your life, I think it is imperative in this area to have a real estate attorney.
Quick plug - even though my office is in Hinsdale, my partner lives downtown and we do a ton of Chicago closings (as well as all over Chicago for anyone else reading!). Feel free to call me on my cell with any questions 630-551-6833.
Hope this helps,
Attorney Ranj Mohip is a Chicago real estate attorney. The information in this answer is general information and is not intended as legal advice. Further, answering this question or otherwise contributing as a member of Trulia.com does not create an attorney-client relationship. Remember, consult the best real estate attorney in Chicago or in your respective area.
It would depend on how much you know about real estate, contract law and the condition of the property. You do not need a lawyer for anything these days. However, if you are not an expert in the previously mentioned fields (Real Estate, Legal and Property Inspection/Assessment) then I would certainly say to hire expert representation.
A lawyer will certainly cost you more than a Real Estate Agent. But a lawyer can provide you actual legal advice and guidance whereas a RE Agent can not (unless they are also a lawyer). Keep this in mind when you are deciding whether or not to hire legal representation. It only takes one very well worded sentence to lock you into a deal that you can not back out of for any reason other than death!
Good luck and hire a Lawyer!
Emmanuel J. Scanlan
PS Inspection & Property Services LLC
TREC License # 7593
International Code Council, Residential Combination Inspector #5247015-R5 (Electrical, Mechanical, Plumbing and Building)
Texas Residential Construction Commission, Third Party Warranty Inspector #1593
Texas Residential Construction Commission, Inspector, County Inspection Program
Texas Department Of Insurance, VIP Inspector # 08507061016
Hayman Residential Engineering Services, Field Technician
CMC Energy - Certified Energy Auditor
Knowledge is power, but sharing knowledge brings peace!!