Skip to main content

On Talking Clients Off the Ledge

It stands to reason that most all of the professionals involved in a real estate transaction have a vested interest in seeing the deal through to a closing. From a distance, we lawyers "could" be included in this camp, understandably so. My buyers hire me (and many real estate agents refer them to me) because they want to buy. Sellers hire me because they want to sell. No one wants the deal to collapse.

But the truth runs a bit deeper, as my first loyalties run to my client, and a large part of my job is to try to keep my clients out of trouble. From time to time, my review of a contract leads me to an unfortunate, but inevitable conclusion: the deal stinks. In those instances, I try hard to talk my clients out of going forward on their contracts; "off the ledge," if you will. Some listen, some don't. At least I try.

I was reminded of all this earlier this week while reading about the problems at the Sterling Private Residences. Turns out that there is a rampant problem with foreclosures at that property and the values of units there have declined by as much 175 over the last three years. 95 foreclosure lawsuits in that time frame in a building of only 389 units! YIKES!

During that same time frame, I successfully persuaded a number of clients out of buying into that project and others offered on similar terms by the same developer, American Invsco. Its not that Invsco is a bad company or that they were dishonest in their marketing. Its just that the deals they were offering three years ago were highly speculative. In my estimation, just "too good to be true."

Invsco sold units on a promise that they would pay buyer's property taxes, assessments and rental incomes for these units for the first two years. That come-on attracted many would-be investor/speculators. By using adjustable rate loans with teaser rates, woiuld-be buyers were enticed by notions of property value appreciation and an opportunity for easy "flips" as the incentive terms ended. Buyers tended to look past all possibility that market prices would not appreciate, or that mortgage payments could increase, or assessments, or that tenants might move out. Or for that matter, that they would all be competing with each other two years later when it came to sell. Those startling foreclosure numbers cited in the Crains piece seem to bear those miscalculations out.

I wish I could say that I am always this prescient in my contract evaluations, or that I was able to talk everyone I represented out of these schemes. But at least, my clients were given fair warning of the potential perils. The ones who went forward did so with that additional knowledge. I wonder how many of those others of the 95 foreclosures (or the others who are distressed, but not yet foreclosed) had legal counsel, or had anyone on their side trying to warn them of the risks they took on?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Do I HAVE to shovel? Chicago snow shoveling law and etiquette

Set aside any discussion of climate change for a moment. It’s winter. It’s Chicago. It snows. As a homeowner, you owe it to your friends, family, neighbors and delivery people to keep the sidewalks free of snow and ice.

The Equifax data breach and you — 6 steps to take now

Identity thieves hit a major credit reporting agency—hard. Millions of consumers’ confidential identity information has been compromised.

Equifax, one of the big three credit reporting agencies announced that a massive security breach took place earlier this year. Offenders accessed data sets of 143 million US consumers.

With federal tax reform looming, should I prepay 2017 Cook County property taxes?

By Michael H. Wasserman

Paying property tax bills before the end of the 2017 may help some owners save on their federal income tax liabilities.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has been called the most sweeping tax reform bill in decades. Like it or
not, tax reform is coming. Others might wring their hands with glee or with worry. We are already working on ways to minimize the pain this reform might cause. 
One aspect of the pending tax reform plan presents a clear challenge for most Chicagoland home owners, the elimination of deductions for State and Local Taxes (SALT). The house and senate plans both limit deductibility to $10,000. Once the tax reform is signed into law, we will pay federal income taxes on the money we use to pay our local taxes exceeding that $10,000 threshold. Some homeowners who have the foresight (and lets face it, the savings) to act swiftly may want to pre-pay their first installment 2017 property tax bills this year before the tax laws kick in, so that those payments …