Real Estate Transaction Timeline

Below you will find a timeline of a typical residential real estate transaction in Illinois. Please note that due to a variety of factors and circumstances, the process for buying or selling a home can often vary from this timeline, which your attorney can explain to you further. A real estate lawyer from Zaba Law Group, PC, representing you will guide you through this process, protect your interests, and answer any questions you may have along the way.

1. Contract Negotiation / Execution (one to four weeks)

Upon an agreement to the terms of the contract by the purchaser and seller, a formal real estate contract will be executed by both parties. At this time, the purchaser will tender the earnest money to the seller or his/her representative. When the contract offer is accepted by the seller, this becomes known as the "effective date," which becomes an important date throughout the length of the transaction. If you would like our firm to represent you, our contact information could be included on the final page of the contract at execution.

2. Attorney Review / Inspection Period (one to two weeks from contract execution)

Commencing on the effective date, both parties have five business days (or a similar period depending on the contract utilized) to have their respective attorneys review the contract and propose modifications if they so choose. Any aspect of the contract can be modified with the exception of the purchase price. During that same time frame, the purchaser has the opportunity to order an inspection of the property and request applicable repairs or credits from the seller. Both of these periods can be extended by agreement of both parties if either task is not completed within the original time period. Prior to the expiration of these time frames, either party can cancel the contract without penalty and with full return of the earnest money.

3. Mitigation / Remediation (one to two weeks from inspection period)

If specific problems arise during the inspection, such as increased radon levels, lead paint, termite damage, etc., the buyer may request certain mitigation or remediation be performed in order to continue with the contract.

4. Financing Date (three to six weeks from effective date)

When a buyer is obtaining a mortgage to purchase the property, there will be a mortgage contingency date included in the contract, which is typically around a month after the effective date. This clause allows the buyer to terminate the contract without penalty if he/she is unable to secure a mortgage containing reasonable terms to purchase the contract. Again, this contingency date can be extended by agreement of the parties if the mortgage is not finalized within the window originally provided in the contract.

5. Ordering of Title (two to three weeks from effective date)

In a typical transaction, a title commitment will be ordered by the seller's attorney, allowing the purchaser to obtain title insurance. During this process, the seller's attorney will review the property's chain of title to insure there are no liens or encumbrances preventing the seller from conveying the property, all taxes are and assessments are paid, and the seller(s) listed on the contract is/are the correct owner(s) of record.

6. Survey (two to four weeks from effective date)

Generally, unless the property is a condominium, a survey is ordered by the seller's attorney and presented to the purchaser at closing. The survey will indicate where applicable property lines exist and include other important information such as easements, drainage areas, setback lines, etc. The survey is usually paid for by the seller.

7. Appraisal (two to four weeks from effective date)

An appraisal will be ordered by either the lender or the purchaser to determine the estimated value of the property. The lender typically will not lend an amount of money that is higher than a specific percentage of the appraisal in order to protect their interest in the property.

8. Closing (four to 10 weeks from effective date)

Finally, the closing. This is where all applicable documents will be executed and exchanged, all outstanding bills and taxes will be settled, and the seller will tender possession of the property to the buyers. Generally, the buyer and the buyer's attorney will be required to attend the closing, although the seller usually does not need to attend as his/her documents can be executed beforehand and brought by the seller's attorney.

9. Recording of Documents (two to four weeks from closing)

Once the closing is completed, the deed and applicable documents must be recorded with the county recorder's office, which can be handled by the title company. Once the deed has been recorded, the original will be sent to the buyer's attorney, and ultimately to the buyer for his/her records.

Do You Need an Attorney When Buying or Selling a Home in Illinois?

Too often, individuals are reactive about hiring a real estate attorney, doing so only when legal problems arise. A proactive approach is the smarter way to protect your investment. Call (630) 442-0520 or use our online contact form to schedule a consultation.