For a Smooth Chicago Real Estate Closing, Know the Details and Get Them in Writing

Making a real estate purchase is nothing if not exciting—the anticipation of the deal, the clock-watching as things move through escrow, and the promise of a fresh, new space at the end of it are all a part of the exhilaration.

That excitement makes it all too common for Chicago real estate buyers to get caught up in the process. Swirling in the thrill of making a purchase often means that buyers and sellers alike tend not to question some of the more mundane issues that can come up. They might think the “little things” will be easier to deal with once the deal is done, or not want to bring up any issues that could slow down the process.

But the closing process is certainly not too late for issues to arise, and believe it or not, some minutia can even kill a deal that is that far in. An article in The New York Times this week discussed the many ways a deal can unravel over seemingly small negotiations that weren’t in writing at the time the deal was made.

One of the main issues is who gets what. It’s very likely the seller has one expectation for which pieces of the home will come with them and that the buyer has another. Or maybe the buyer spots something they’d like the seller to throw into the deal to get to a certain price.

Here are a few things I’d urge all buyers to think about and settle in writing when a Chicago real estate deal:

Ceiling fans and light fixtures: What might seem like a standard overhead fan in a room could be something the seller special ordered or spent a decent amount of money on and therefore expect to take with them.

Hardwood floors: A seller isn’t going to take the wood planks with them of course, but buyers should take a look under floor coverings and area rugs to ensure the wood is in the condition they’d expect—that it’s not bleached or otherwise un-livable. If it is, you’ll want to work a fix or negotiation into the contract.

Kitchen and bath fixtures: It’s not entirely uncommon for a buyer to move in and find that the seller took everything AND the kitchen sink—literally. Especially if the fixtures in a home are high-end or special installations, it’s important to make sure the plan for those parts is outlined in the contract.

Fireplace accouterments: Some fireplaces are free-standing pieces that a seller could plan to take with them. Buyers have even been surprised to learn that the seller planned to haul off a stack of wood meant for the fireplace use. Again, no detail is too small to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Wine-racks: These can sometimes be an issue if it was custom-built or not part of the “permanent” space. Again, make sure you know what is and isn’t part of the home and what you expect to be there when a seller has moved out. If in doubt, ask.

Especially if the home is occupied upon making a deal, it is critical that the buyer and seller clearly identify what belongs to the owner versus the tenant. All “wants” and needs should be put in writing when the contract is written.

If there are changes or additions, they should be initialed by both the buyer and seller—all of them. So if the seller is a husband and wife or the buyers are two non-married individuals, get everyone’s John Hancock where it needs to be on that final contract.

Little details like these can easily blow up into a much bigger headache for both sides of a deal. To learn more about navigating the nuances of a Chicago real estate deal, contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at ssalnick@dreamtown.com.

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