Skip to main content

CHANGES COMING AT THE CITY OF CHICAGO WATER DEPARTMENT?

Changes afoot at the City of Chicago, Department of Water Management may be having (adverse) impacts on real estate closings.  Over the course of the last several weeks, I have seen an uptick in closings being delayed as some Sellers are finding it harder to some required paperwork from the City. One source described a six week backlog for some certification requests. At least two contracts have been outright cancelled because of the delays. Buyers simply could not, or would not wait any longer.

In order to close on home purchase or sale involving Chicago real estate, the Sellers must present a "Full Payment Certification" to show that the water bill is current. These certificates are typically obtained directly from the water department's basement lair at the DePaul Center, 333 South State Street. If you have never been there, the offices are uninviting, inhospitable, and doing business there has long been (for my, anyway) unpleasant. Slow and unfriendly to say the least. Things as 333 South State seem to be going even slower than usual. I think we finally know why.

Last month, the City sent pink slips to 34 workers in the water department billing center. They lay-offs all go into effect on January 4. At the same time, the City has out-sourced the billing center work to NTT Data, a Japanese corporation. The City expects to save $100,000 annually with this privatization move.

Ben Joravsky at the Chicago Reader has written about this story here and here. Otherwise, I have not seen any other media coverage of the move. Joravsky focuses his inquiry on the loss of full time jobs for City residents, being replaced by employees who will (apparently) receive lower part time wages, taking jobs with no benefits. You can & probably should read his stories to learn more.

What does this mean for buyers and sellers going forward? It will be hard to say until we see how NTT and the City handle the transition to privatized water department billing. Hopefully, things will go smoothly and NTT will hire enough workers to clear up the backlog of pending certification requests.


Certain select title companies and clerking services have direct on-line access to the water department and can generate the paperwork directly, without requiring a trip to DePaul Center. Smart sellers should insist that their attorneys work with such title companies & clerking services. Best that they also make application earlier, rather than later in the process. Buyers should be a bit more pro-active too, to try to encourage their sellers' attorneys to do so to, and to try to sport potential delays early in the closing process.


Popular posts from this blog

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 …

What to do when drones fly near your home

Imagine a quiet evening on the deck of your new home when—out of nowhere—a noisy drone begins hovering around your property, almost certainly snapping photos or video. It’s like Space Invaders meets Gladys Kravitz. So what do you do?