Monday, December 30, 2013

How to Avoid the Legal Pitfalls of Being a Chicago Landlord

Guest author Randy Weinstein has been a licensed attorney focused on real estate since 2006. Randy has been recognized by Superlawyers magazine as a rising star for the past two years.

Randy Weinstein graduated from the University of Denver with a juris doctorate and a masters of science in real estate and construction management. 
Contact Randy at his website or by email

Homeowners in Chicago who are looking to purchase a new home and rent out their current home must take proper precautions to be cash flow positive.

Changing Your Mindset - Becoming a Business Owner

The first thing that people must understand when they go from living in their home to renting out their home is that they are going from home-owners to business-owners.  By turning your home into your business, you must take the same precautions that you would take in starting any other business.  People should be prepared to consider:
  1. Properly forming an Illinois Limited Liability Company (LLC) 
  2. Executing a Quit Claim Deed from themselves personally into an Illinois Limited Liability Company
  3. Hiring a real estate broker to obtain qualified tenants 
  4. Engaging a real estate attorney to review and/or draft your lease
  5. Consider a property management company to handle repair issues and rent collection. 

Steps 3-5 are particularly important for properties located in the City of Chicago and Evanston. This is because these municipalities have strict Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinances (RLTO) to protect tenants.

Beyond failing to maintain a habitable property and failing to provide essential service, tenants in these  municipalities can have claims against their landlords for actions and/or inactions, including, but not limited to:

Sunday, December 15, 2013

House Hunters vs. Real House Hunting - What You Should Expect in Your Home Buying Process

Many buyers enjoy watching real estate shows on HGTV and TLC (like "House Hunters", or "My First House").  Here are a few ways your real house hunting process may be different than what you see on TV.

1.  Your Process Isn't Under a 30 Minute Timeline

Shows like House Hunters display the entire process, from initial search to close, within their allotted episode time slots.  While most buyers certainly don't expect the process to be nearly THAT quick, there is often some anxiety about the length of the search process.

If you don't find you home on the first search, don't worry.  It's a totally normal part of the process.  You are absolutely able to look at more than 3 homes to make your decision, and sometimes it takes a good amount of time to understand the market around you!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

How to Tackle Clutter and Prepare Your House to Sell

You've decided it's time to move to a new home and sell your current one.  Exciting!

When you start looking around at the clutter your home has collected over the years, however, sometimes prepping for a sell can feel a bit daunting.  In some cases, you don't even see it.  Intellectually you know you have "stuff", but in your eyes, everything is in its place.

So, how should a seller prepare their home (and their mindset) for the actual sell?

Preparing is "Pre-Packing"

When you sell your home, you're going to pack up and move out. The best approach is to box up and donate as much as you can to both prepare your home to show and to prepare for your actual move.  If you haven't used it in a month or two, it can go.  You may feel like your home looks a little barren after all this packing - that's okay, it's a good thing.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

5 Reasons You Should Sell Your Home Before Spring

Many sellers believe that waiting until the spring season to sell their home is a better alternative to selling during the winter.

In all actuality, this isn't entirely true.  Selling during the winter has its own distinct set of advantages.  Here are a few of our favorites, courtesy of our friends at KCM blog.

During Winter, Only Serious Buyers Are Looking

During the winter, and particularly during the holiday season, the buyers that are out looking are typically very serious buyers with a more immediate need.  There are less "lookers" - that is those who are only starting to look around to figure out what they want.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

The Truth Behind "Sale Pending" - You May Still Be Able to Buy

Most house hunters in the modern market are doing a lot of their property searches through online services.

It is through these searches that a prospective homebuyer comes across terms like "contingent", "A/I", "pending" or "sale pending" and take them to mean "off the market."

In many cases, and depending on the source, this may not be true.

Here's is how you can tell if a "sale pending" home is still worth pursuing, courtesy of Zillow Blog.

"Subject to" and "Contingent Upon" Could Be Part of the Transaction