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from Local Attorney, Michael H. Wasserman

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

City of Chicago - In Color

I am a real estate lawyer. I help buyers buy and sellers sell their homes, their condos, their apartment buildings. One at a time. 

Each deal I work on is the most important contract in the local real estate market. To my clients and the parties on sitting accross the table they are. And because each individual transaction is to each individual client, that specific deal is also the most important case I am working on too. 

But in a wholly other sense, each transaction is part of a larger real estate marketplace. Each transaction adds another data point that economists and sociologists can pick over and analyze. The collective information gleaned from all transactions informs us all about the larger trends and patterns in our communities. The collective body of information gathered in real estate conveyancing and from census data, all helps paint a very different picture.

It is real estate pointillism. Think of Georges-Pierre Serat or Chuck Close.    

Now check out this New York Times interactive mapping display and see the bigger picture. Plug "Chicago, IL" into the search bar and chew on the  images that NYT generates. Uptown Libertarian does an interesting analysis of my local environs. Take a moment and see what you can learn about your own, too.   

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Homeowners - think back a moment to your last re-finance or purchase transaction....

How did you chose your lender? According to a just released study by Lending Tree & Harris Interactive, chances are you probably signed on with the first lender you spoke with. True?  Lending Tree reports that roughly 40% of homeowners surveyed went with the first loan officer they spoke to.
As restated in a Forbes article on the report, 2 out of 5  buyers take the very first home loan deal presented to them, regardless of whether a better one could be had.
Curiously, 96% of the survey participants said they compared prices when shopping for anything else besides mortgages.  Heck, the average consumer compared at least three home computers before buying. And special question for all the Realtors: How many houses did that buyer look at before picking "the one" to make an offer on?  The end result? Only 28% surveyed felt confident that they got the best possible deal on their mortgage loans.

Even in the current marketplace, there are hundreds of loan originators to chose from; mortgage brokers, mortgage bankers, credit unions and federally chartered retail banks. They offer any number of different loan programs. Different types of loans. Different lending guidelines. An array of up front closing cost requirements; loan durations, interest rates. Their are a veritable smorgasbord of money lending options.

Sure those choices can make the process seem overwhelming, but we live in a society where we choose from  20 or 30 different types of ragu spaghetti saucees or 41 types of crest toothpaste in the shopping aisle most every day. We are used to making choices.

A reputable loan officers can help a buyer sort through those offering to hone in on the best products and  get the job done, but why only speak to one loan officer? Any given loan comes to a borrower at a price; Two actually; upfront closing costs and then interests payments over the life of the loan. Combined they can add up to tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

I have long counseled clients to speak to two or three different lenders in order to ferret out the very best options available to them. I always stand  ready to help my clients chose the best loans offered to them. I know many other lawyers who do so too. It only seems reasonable to me to try to help clients get the cheapest loans they can, don't you think?

Federal law makes this easier than one might think. Every lender is required to provide their loan applicants with two documents to facilitate comparison shopping; a Truth in Lending Disclosure and a Good Faith Estimate of Closing Costs. The Good Faith Estimate even has room to allow for comparisons of different loans, right there on the form!

Buyers looking for purchase money mortgage loans and owners looking to re-finance are urged to take a second look - that is, talk to a second (or third) lender to find the best loan on the best terms possible. Feel better than the 60% of those survey participants who did not bother to shop around. Close with confidence.

Let your closing lawyer know if you have trouble comparing various offerings from the lenders you engage. We can help.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010