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from Local Attorney, Michael H. Wasserman

Thursday, January 29, 2015

BEWARE - SUSPICIOUS EMAIL AHEAD....

by Michael H. Wasserman 


We live in a terribly unsafe world transacting real estate purchases and sales. There is a lot of money passing between Buyers and Sellers and Lenders and Title Insurance Companies. Unfortunately, there are a great many scammers out there trying to divert those funds away from the deal and into their pockets.

In the coming weeks, I intend to write about several new rules and protocols being implemented to try to avoid calamities of this sort. For now, I wish to alert Realtors and other lawyers about an increasingly common email fraud. 

I am seeing multiple emails every day from lenders and title companies with the seemingly innocuous email caption: HUD-1 Approval***.

Hud-1, of course, the form number for the federally mandated settlement statement used in most every residential purchase/sale and mortgage re-finance transaction. We need these forms in order to advise our clients of their closing costs and the amounts of money they need to deliver (or expect to receive) from closings.

The messages read - to one extent or another -
Hello
Please find HUD-1 Approved!
CLICK HERE to view attached
Thanks

Unfortunately, these are phony links and fake messages. DO NOT CLICK THRU

these message take the reader to a phishing web site posing as a google docs page.

Be smart, be safe

check to see if the sender is a known/trusted closing partner.
ask yourseelf, if this the way he/she normally sends me my closing statements?


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

COOK COUNTY 2014 - PROPERTY TAX BILLS AVAILABLE NOW ONLINE

by Michael H. Wasserman

Cook County property owners can now see their 2014 1st Installment property tax bills online at the County Treasurer's web site. Tax bills are due on or before March 3, 2015.  The first installment bill is not a predictor of what the final annual tax bill will look like. This is merely 55% of last years bill and is simply an estimate of what the final levy may look like.

IF YOU ESCROW FOR TAXES WITH YOUR LENDER:

Property tax payers who escrow for taxes with their lender need not take any action - the lender is supposed to pay for you. (OK, maybe you should check to make sure that your lender actually does pays the bill.).

IF YOU PAY YOUR OWN TAXES:

Make sure that you pay on time! The County charges 18% per anum interest on delinquent taxes (1.5% per month). You can pay any number of ways, including -


  • Payment the County directly, in person at the Treasurer's Offices or by mail
  • at any local (Illinois) Chase Bank branch location
  • at other select Community Banks
  • online via credit card
  • online via ACH debit (e-check)

note that there is a $1 fee for ACH payments. There are substantial fees for paying by credit card. Details here. 

IF YOU ARE CLOSING ON THE SALE OF COOK COUNTY PROPERTY SOON

Your Buyer, his or her lender, and the title insurance company will all want to either see proof that this bill has been paid, or that you are giving proper credit for this tax bill to the Buyer. 

If you are paying your own taxes, be sure to send proof of payment to your attorney, ASAP so that you do not have to escrow funds with the title company until it can confirm the payment was made
If your lender pays your tax bills, be sure to check with them too. The last thing you will want is to have to pay the taxes at closing AND find out your lender ALSO paid the same bill for you. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Sign the ATA petition to separate bicyclists and pedestrians on the Lakefront Trail

by: Michael H. Wasserman

According to Active Transportation Alliance, the 18-mile Chicago lakefront path is the busiest trail in the country, with peak usage at more than 30,000 users per day during the summer. (Lucky me) it is also the main artery of my commute to work most days. Even the most occasional user can tell you - it is simply not engineered/able to accommodate such a large volume of mixed mode users all travelling at different speeds.
Everyone should enjoy the lakefront. Often. It is one of the City's great assets. Improving park facilities like trail improvements will only enhance the experience for us all.