HELP! Can we still back out of a house purchase if we have signed a sales agreement but not a contract?

Asked by Elaine, 11373 Tue Jun 30, 2009

We found a home we really like, made an offer, seller accepted the offer, we signed only the sales
agreement, had it inspected and the lawyer is now preparing the contract (so we have not signed any contract yet). We fear that the house has not been reassessed for the past years and that the tax did not reflect the very nice and expensive pool. If we learn that the tax they have disclosed to us during the open house is not updated, can we still back out? We did not ask about it when we offered. do we need to pay the atty who prepared the contract?

Thanks for your answer

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Ifeta Redzov…, Agent, Chicago, IL
Sat Jun 26, 2010
Dear Elaine;

You need to consult with your attorney regarding all of the above concerns. As far as paying him this dependes what agreement was made between the attorney and you when you picked him to represent you in this transaction. Good luck.
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Don Yosef Ma…, Agent, Highland Park, IL
Sun Jul 5, 2009
You are proposing many issues here. WARING,WARNING,Warning.warning,warning,WARNING,WARNING
First of ALL ; Any answers that were given from a non-attorney to this question you can be fined for practicing law without a license,
2nd it is against the ethics or standard of practice to advise a buyer how to get out of a contract.
3rd of all what you are obligated to pay or not pay for attorney is between you and your attorney unless it was very excessive than you take it up with another attorny or the disaplantary board.
Is seems like to me that you started out on the wrong foot when you didn't have a realtor represent you from the beginning and its been going down hill ever since. ALL the Realtor's out there should be VERY VERY CAREFULL IN ANSWERING ANY OF HER' QUESTIONS YOU COULD BE BROUGHT UP ANY A NUMBER OF CHARGES IF YOU DO ANSWER THEM EXCEPT FOR THE TAX EXEMPTION IMPROVEMENT. The previously answers was only half right ; THE POOL IS NOT AUTOMATICALLY GET TAXED EXEMPT, I wish it was that easy. You always got to double check on it. Other counties than Cook have up to $40,000 in improvements.
If your attorney represents you that i am sure what ever you want done he should be able to work within the legal boundaries to get what ever you want do and learn your lesson for next time you don't use an experienced & knowledgeable realtor like myself. I worked for the Cook County Assessor for 6 years and knows the in's & out's of property tax reductions for Cook & Lake County.
Northbrook & Chicago
0 votes
Paul Garver, Other Pro, Hinsdale, IL
Wed Jul 1, 2009

First realize that here in Illinois there is a Home Improvement Exemption for Real Estate Taxes. The Home Improvement Exemption allows you to increase the value of your home with up to $75,000 worth of improvements without increasing your property taxes for at least four years. So if the improvment was done less than 4 years ago, then it is not reflected in the taxes. This exemption is automatically applied, the Seller did not have to apply for it. Check out information on the Cook County Assessor's website here:

Second, even though I am an attorney I have not reviewed the sales agreement, your attorney should be able to guide you in the right direction, but I suspect that you have a way to back out of this deal.

Hope that helps,

Paul Garver
Web Reference:
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Elizabeth Le…, Agent, Greenwich, CT
Wed Jul 1, 2009
If the higher tax was already in effect, if that town would definitely, based upon a higher appraisal if a pool warrants one, increase taxes next time around, and that was not disclosed to you then the seller is guilty of nondisclosure of pertinent facts regarding value of property....your sales contract should then be null and void.....your lawyer can advise you definitely on that.

The lawyer fee for drawing up the contract shuld be on the seller's side and therefore his/her expense....
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Sandy Curtis, , Seattle, WA
Tue Jun 30, 2009
Who is the attorney working for? Did you hire him - if so then you must pay him. If he is doing it for both parties, then it seems you would be obligated for 1/2 of the fee but if the seller hired him then that is their responsibility. As far as getting out of the contract, if you can show they did not disclose information they should/would have been aware of (or the average owner would be aware of) then you can get out of the contract as they MUST disclose all material facts. A material fact is any item which affects the falue of the property. You need to check on the taxes ASAP and then proceed depending on what you find. Do you have your own real estate agent representing you? Hopefully you are not using the same agent as the sellers - because at that point neither of you have anyone representing you. If you have your real estate agent, they should be able to advise you on the law in your area.
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Emily Knell, Agent, Huntington Beach, CA
Tue Jun 30, 2009
Talk to you own representative first! Then have him/her call the attorney (I'm sorry I don't work in a state where attorneys run the show.

You should ALWAYS have a "due diligence" or inspections period anyway. THAT would be your OUT. During a due diligence period is a time in which you conduct inspection of the physical part of the property, but also, it is a time in which you review the Preliminary Title Report. If there are things you don't agree with, you have the option to BACK OUT or RE-NEGOTIATE with the seller for a solution.

The due diligence period is a time for you to check on exactly this issue.

Take a breath, I think you'll be fine.

Again, talk to your own Realtor & the attorney tomorrow, 1st thing.
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