Attorneys At Law

Attorneys practicing in and around the Chicagoland area. Experienced in the practice areas of Real Estate Law, Mortgage Foreclosure Defense Litigation, Social Security Disability, Business Law, & Estate Law.

Attorneys At Law - Attorneys practicing in and around the Chicagoland area. Experienced in the practice areas of Real Estate Law, Mortgage Foreclosure Defense Litigation, Social Security Disability, Business Law, & Estate Law.

Battling the Cook County Assessor’s Office

Property Tax Assessment - Calculator

In this post, we discuss the story of a Cook County homeowner and their ongoing battle with the county assessor over their real estate taxes.

As a basis for this discussion, we will review an article which originally appeared in the opinion section of the Chicago Tribune titled “My real estate tax battle with the Cook County assessor’s office“. It’s a really good letter that inspired this post and we would recommend reading it.

In his letter to the opinion section of the newspaper, a Chicago Heights homeowner talks about his ongoing dispute with the Cook County Assessor’s Office over the value of his home.

The homeowner was inspired to write a letter about his “horror story” after reading the investigative story in the Tribune “An Unfair Burden” in which they state that Cook County failed to value homes accurately for years, resulting in a property tax system that harmed the poor and helped the rich.

Cook County Property Tax Assessments

Cook County SealIt was another investigative story from their ongoing watchdog series “The Tax Divide“. This has been a series of articles examining the controversy around Cook County property tax assessments, the problems with the appeals process and assessment errors which have continued for decades.

Property tax valuations are the crucial factor when it comes to calculating Cook County property tax bills. If done correctly, the tax assessments should be fair, transparent and be able to stand up to public and legal scrutiny.

Unfortunately, the Tribune determined that is not how it works in Cook County. The Assessor’s Office has resisted adopting any reforms and has ignored industry-wide standards, resulting in a steady stream of inaccurate home values for property tax purposes.

Unfair Property Tax Assessments

The author of the letter to the editor, My Real Estate Tax Battle” Harold Plucienik, stated:

“I have been doing battle with the Cook County assessor’s office for many years with very little success. I have a rental property in Chicago Heights. It’s a one-and-a-half story frame home built by my grandfather in 1928 and is located in a poorer section of the city among similar homes. During the last assessment, which I believe was 2014, my property fair-market value went up $20,000, while most of my neighbors’ fair-market value went down by $2,000 to $10,000”

On your tax bill, your assessment is based upon the value of several properties which are supposed to be similar to yours.

As Mr. Plucienik went on to say:

mortgage rates going up after presidential election“But when I looked up the properties that it compared to my own, I found one to be a two-story brick home across town. Another was a dilapidated home in an industrial area for which no one in his or her right mind would pay $160,000. In fact, that same home was sold a few years ago at auction for $2,000, and it still sits vacant and in disrepair.”

This is a frustrating situation that will sound terribly familiar to a lot of Cook County homeowners.

He ends his complaint by saying:

“I personally prefer those in charge of the assessor’s office get out, because I never cared much for Joseph Berrios and his ilk. But that is my opinion — a Democrat who now votes Republican.”

This is a difficult situation to be in. Fair property tax assessments are not just a technical matter.

The issue directly affects the futures of people whose homes are their biggest financial investments and who have to pay overpriced taxes, causing a constant state of anxiety.


* Advertising Material: To the extent that the information in this post is interpreted as attorney advertising in accordance with the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct or within the meaning of state bar rules from all other localities, this statement is made pursuant to those rules.

Specialties: Specialization claims are prohibited by Illinois Supreme Court Rules and we do not claim to be specialists. The content of this e-mail is organized and presented for the sole purpose of general information. None of the included content should be construed as legal advice. Viewing this e-mail or e-mailing the account holder does not create an attorney-client relationship. NOTICE: This page may be considered advertising material.


The Law Offices of Lora Fausett P.C. provides real estate law services including loan modificationsbuying and selling legal assistance, short sales and deeds in lieu, mortgage foreclosure defense, and more.

Located in Glen Ellyn, Illinois and serving clients in DuPage, Cook, Kane, Will, and Kendall Counties.

For Information Call 630-858-0090


Image Credit: Pixabay

 

What Is a Tax Sale? The Example of Star Centre Mall

In this post, we discuss property tax sales in Illinois and look at the example of the Star Centre Mall in Marion, Illinois and it’s sale of delinquent taxes.

On May 4th The owners of The Illinois Star Centre LLC declared bankruptcy.

According to the Williamson County Treasurer’s office, the Illinois Star Centre LLC failed to pay taxes during 2014 and 2015 to the amount of $1,112,295.70. Those taxes were purchased by GSRAN-Z, a tax buyer out of Atlanta at a tax lien sale.

The buyers wound up owning the property when they did not intend to and were eventually unable to make the tax payments themselves.

This case makes a good example to undertand the issue of tax sales.

What is a tax sale?

The most common and efficient way to collect delinquent taxes is by tax sale.

A tax sale happens when the landowner fails to pay taxes on their property. A legal claim can then be made by the city or county to place a lien on the property which cannot be sold or refinanced until the taxes are paid and the lien is removed.

The county will hold a public auction, and investors can bid for the right to collect on the delinquent taxpayer’s debt.

Tax sales in Illinois

Once the property taxes are delinquent for a long enough time, the taxing authority will start a tax sale.

In Illinois, tax sales require judicial proceedings which usually begin with a published list that states the name of the taxpayer, the property, as well as the amount of tax due. In addition to publication, the taxpayer will receive a notice in the mail that acts as a summons.

You have the right at any time on or before the day before the sale to end the it by getting caught up on the costs due.

If you do not get caught up on what you owe the sale will be held by the county collector to sell the delinquent tax.

Property tax bills Kane & DuPage CountyTax Sale at Star Centre Mall

If the deed is not redeemed the lien buyer has a legal right to take the title and ownership of the property.

In the case of the Illinois Star Centre Mall in Marion, Illinois, they found themselves owning property they did not anticipate owning.

The tax buyers were able to benefit the community though, because Illinois Star Centre LLC bought the taxes for the mall, Williamson County was able to distribute money to the taxing bodies associated with the property.

Related: Short sale vs deeds in lieu

What happens when your property taxes are sold?

If you are not able to get caught up on what you owe, the court will issue a judgment and a sale will be held to sell the delinquent tax debt.

The purchase of a delinquent tax does not cause the immediate loss of property. It differs from state to state but there is usually about 18 months to redeem the sold delinquent tax before the tax buyer can acquire the deed.

Buying tax lien is not a risk-free investment because the tax lien may not be redeemed by the property owner, as was the case with the Illinois Star Centre Mall.


* Advertising Material: To the extent that the information in this post is interpreted as attorney advertising in accordance with the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct or within the meaning of state bar rules from all other localities, this statement is made pursuant to those rules.

Specialties: Specialization claims are prohibited by Illinois Supreme Court Rules and we do not claim to be specialists. The content of this e-mail is organized and presented for the sole purpose of general information. None of the included content should be construed as legal advice. Viewing this e-mail or e-mailing the account holder does not create an attorney-client relationship. NOTICE: This page may be considered advertising material.


The Law Offices of Lora Fausett P.C. provides real estate law services including buying and selling legal assistance, short sales and deeds in lieu, mortgage foreclosure defense and more.

Located in Glen Ellyn, Illinois and serving clients in DuPage, Cook, Kane, Will, and Kendall Counties.

For Information Call 630-858-0090


 

Zestimate Lawsuit – Zillow Class Action Lawsuit Over Online Appraisals

Real Estate Home Buying Myths

Northwest suburban Chicago home builders in Schaumburg have filed a class action lawsuit against the real estate marketing company Zillow.

According to the suit filed on behalf of CastleBldrs.com in Schaumburg, the Zillow.com online estimate tool “Zestimate” provides home estimates that are misleading, and falsely pose as home appraisals in violation of the legal description of an appraisal in Illinois.

The attorney representing Castle Builders is Barbara Andersen, who had also filed an earlier suit against Zillow on her own behalf. Her suit had claimed that a Zestimate of her townhouse value was unrealistically low and had created a “roadblock” to selling her home.

Anderson has since filed a motion to dismiss her suit in order to represent the Castle Builders case.

Class action lawsuit against Zillow

How accurate is your zestimate?The new class action suit is on behalf of all of the millions of homeowners in Illinois. It claims homeowners should be asked their permission to publicly post financial data about their homes.

“Zillow has said they use the Zestimate to draw people into their website,” Andersen told Crain’s Chicago Business. “But from a legal perspective, they shouldn’t be making these estimates at all.”

The Zestimate lawsuit argues that by posting its estimates, Zillow has intentionally violated the “seclusion” of every homeowner in Illinois, without giving them a means to opt out.

Illinois law statesIt is unlawful for a person to (i) act, offer services, or advertise services as a State certified general real estate appraiser, State certified residential real estate appraiser, or associate real estate trainee appraiser, (ii) develop a real estate appraisal, (iii) practice as a real estate appraiser, or (iv) advertise or hold himself or herself out to be a real estate appraiser without a license issued under this Act.

“Even if Zillow’s numbers were perfect, dead-on accurate, they’re still opining on the value of homes, and they don’t have the license to opine,” attorney Andersen said.

Related: Low Inventory for Midpriced Suburban Chicago Homes Driving Up Prices

Zillow denies Zestimates are appraisals

mortgage rates going up after presidential electionZillow maintains that its approximations are not actual appraisals, nor do they claim to be.

They say Zestimates are based on public records and other data using “a proprietary formula.” Zillow also provides a disclaimer about the accuracy of its approximations.

A Zillow spokesperson told MarketWatchWe believe the claims in this case are without merit. We always say that the Zestimate is a starting point to determine a home’s value, and isn’t an official appraisal. It’s a computer-automated estimate of your home’s value.

Many people in the real estate industry will be watching for the outcome of this case.


Related stories and sources:
Class-action suit aims to halt Zestimates in Illinois – Chicago Business
Do Zillow ‘Zestimates’ mislead home buyers? Lawsuit claims yes – MarketWatch
Zillow’s ‘Zestimate’ facing class-action lawsuit, reports say – Chicago Agent Magazine
Glenview homeowner sues Zillow over ‘sloppy’ estimate – Crain’s Chicago Business
Chicago Area Home Sellers File Lawsuit Against Zillow’s Zestimate – Chicago Now

* Advertising Material: To the extent that the information in this post is interpreted as attorney advertising in accordance with the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct or within the meaning of state bar rules from all other localities, this statement is made pursuant to those rules.

Specialties: Specialization claims are prohibited by Illinois Supreme Court Rules and we do not claim to be specialists. The content of this e-mail is organized and presented for the sole purpose of general information. None of the included content should be construed as legal advice. Viewing this e-mail or e-mailing the account holder does not create an attorney-client relationship. NOTICE: This page may be considered advertising material.


The Law Offices of Lora Fausett P.C. provides real estate law services including buying and selling legal assistance, short sales and deeds in lieu, mortgage foreclosure defense and more.

Located in Glen Ellyn, Illinois and serving clients in DuPage, Cook, Kane, Will, and Kendall Counties.

For Information Call 630-858-0090


 

Mold Disclosure Illinois – Not Required for Realtors

Mold in illinois homes - is disclosure required?Did you know that mold disclosure forms are not required by Illinois law in real estate transactions?

Many buyers are surprised to hear this, but there are no specific statutory requirements for sellers to provide regarding disclosure of mold. There is no state or federal requirement to do so.

For many years, Illinois REALTORS® did offer their own mold disclosure forms despite the fact that there is no law.

During the past year though, Illinois REALTORS® have stopped offering the form on their website. According to Illinois REALTORS® Legal Hotline Attorney Betsy Urbance, the form was been dropped from their website after a legal review. 

“… Mold disclosure or notice introduces ambiguity into the transaction while also taking the focus off what are truly the important issues to the parties.”

Illinois REALTORS® does not support these forms any longer and requests you remove them from your individual forms folder and discontinue use of them. 

Three main reasons were given for the removal of mold disclosure forms:

  1. There are no state or federal statutory requirements that sellers provide mold disclosure forms.
  2. There is no set scientific standard for what constitutes acceptable or unacceptable levels of mold in a structure.
  3. There are existing disclosure rules which require homeowners to disclose underlying physical defects in a property.

 

Disclosure of lead paint is required by federal law since 1992. Radon disclosure is required by the Illinois Radon Awareness Act.

Related: What You Need to Know About Radon Video

In the case of mold, there is no legislation specific disclosure law. There is, however, the Residential Real Property Disclosure Act, which requires a seller to disclose any known physical defects, including issues involving moisture, which would lead to issues with mold.

If you are uncertain of your legal obligations, you should consult an attorney specializing in real estate law.

 


* Advertising Material: To the extent that the information in this post is interpreted as attorney advertising in accordance with the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct or within the meaning of state bar rules from all other localities, this statement is made pursuant to those rules.

Specialties: Specialization claims are prohibited by Illinois Supreme Court Rules and we do not claim to be specialists. The content of this e-mail is organized and presented for the sole purpose of general information. None of the included content should be construed as legal advice. Viewing this e-mail or e-mailing the account holder does not create an attorney-client relationship. NOTICE: This page may be considered advertising material.


The Law Offices of Lora Fausett P.C. provides real estate law services including buying and selling transactions, short sales, mortgage foreclosure defense and more.

For Information Call 630-858-0090


Image credit: Wikipedia Commons

3 Real Estate Myths – Prequalification, Down Payments & Closings

In this post, we will review three real estate myths that are commonly held by first-time homebuyers. 

It’s important to have the right information when you are buying a home. The process can be confusing and difficult enough without believing misinformation.

Myth #1 – A prequalification letter is a loan commitment

The truth: A prequalification letter is not a binding loan commitment.

If you are counting on a prequalification letter in order to guarantee a contract from a home seller, you may find yourself disappointed.

According to Brooklyn Law School professor David Reiss, “prequalification is not a binding agreement. It is one of a number of real estate myths that should be understood.” (Source: Washington Post)

It’s common for homebuyers to contact a bank or lending institution when they are about to begin their home buying process. This gives people a good idea of how much they can afford and how large of a mortgage loan they will be approved for.

When it is time to formally apply for a home loan, you will be required to provide more information to prove you qualify. Your pre-qualification is not a loan guarantee or a binding agreement from the lender.

Related: Easing The Process of Mortgages

 

Myth #2 – Homebuyers must put down 20 percent down payment

Truth: To buy a home, you don’t need to make a 20 percent down payment.

The twenty percent down payment on a home has been repeated for so long that it continues to be believed. It hasn’t actually been true for a while though.

It might still be a helpful guideline for future homeowners to keep in mind and save money for a future down payment, but there are many alternatives to the 20% down payment.

One reason that the 20% figure still exists is that it is usually true that without a 20 percent down payment, you are usually required to purchase private mortgage insurance or government insurance, which increases your monthly housing costs.

Another reason the 20% down payment requirement isn’t true is that it only ever applied to conventional home loans. There are several other alternatives that can have a low or no down payment including VA loans, USDA loans and FHA loans.

Although the 20 percent down payment may not always apply, keep in mind that not doing so may require purchasing insurance and a higher interest rate, both of which will add costs to your home.

New Developments on VA Home Loan Requirements

 

Myth #3 – Closing takes 30 days

Truth: The average closing time is 45-50 days.

It used to be true that closing on a home could be completed in 30 days, but the current rules for real estate transactions have changed this.

Fewer closing then every are completed in 30 days than ever. Your closing time can vary based on the type of loan your receive (VA loan, FHA loan, etc) but it’s unlikely the time between contract and closing (escrow) will be 30 days.

If you have found this article helpful and are looking for help in the home buying process in Glen Ellyn, DuPage County or Chicagoland call Call 630-858-0090

Related: Credit Score Changes Help Consumers and Worry Lenders

 


* Advertising Material: To the extent that the information in this post is interpreted as attorney advertising in accordance with the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct or within the meaning of state bar rules from all other localities, this statement is made pursuant to those rules.

Specialties: Specialization claims are prohibited by Illinois Supreme Court Rules and we do not claim to be specialists. The content of this e-mail is organized and presented for the sole purpose of general information. None of the included content should be construed as legal advice. Viewing this e-mail or e-mailing the account holder does not create an attorney-client relationship. NOTICE: This page may be considered advertising material.


The Law Offices of Lora Fausett P.C. provides real estate law services including buying and selling, short sales, mortgage foreclosure defense and more.

For Information Call 630-858-0090


Image credit: Pixabay
Related sources:
A prequalification letter is not a binding loan commitment – Washington Post
Prequalification versus loan commitment and other real estate myths – Chicago Tribune
You Don’t Need A 20% Downpayment To Buy A Home – The Mortgage Reports
Is It Smart To Buy A Home With Less Than 20% Down Payment? – Forbes
Alternatives to Putting 20 Percent Down on a Home – US News and World Report
How Long Does It Really Take to Close on a House? – Realtor.com
Closing Times Lengthen Again – Realtor Magazine