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This office serves clients in real estate transactions of all types. I
also assist clients with estate planning for everyone, including the GLBT community, and represent Illinois condominium associations
as needed. I help real estate investors who are renting their properties deal with difficult renter issues, and I advocate
for renters dealing with difficult landlords.
I work with clients in Chicago and all over the Chicagoland area, including
Wilmette, Skokie, Morton Grove, Plainfield, Wheaton, Glencoe, Lake Forest, Naperville, Oak Park, Winnetka, Des Plaines, Orland
Park, Berwyn, Carol Stream, Arlington Heights, Crystal Lake, Barrington, Palatine, Park Ridge, Gurnee, South Holland, Park
Forest and more.
My goal is to give
each and every client personal, friendly and competent service at a reasonable price. I also strive to use technology in the
best way possible to keep my clients informed.
My legal background includes working for a major Chicago developer and working for a boutique
firm in their real estate division. I am also a landlord of a three flat building in Rogers Park and I am managing broker
of a small real estate brokerage.
I work with all different types of clients, including developers, first-time buyers, buyers of second
(or third!) homes, all sellers and the LGBTQ community.
My real estate blog is below. Please make sure to check
back on a regular basis to check out what's new. I update my blog about once a week and welcome any questions that you may
Ask me too about help with personal injury, divorce, and any other legal issues!
Greenview Drive, Crystal Lake, IL 60014
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Check out my interview, Expert
Advice on Buying a Foreclosed Home on Illinois Homes, one of the top sites
for Illinois homes for sale, including Wheaton,
IL real estate. Illinois Homes also services Michigan homes for sale and Pennsylvania homes for sale.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
How Do I Know How Much My Home Is Worth?
1:03 pm cst
You'll never really know what the market value of your home is until you put it on the market. There
are also some websites such as Domania.com, Zillow.com and HomeGain.com which may give you a good idea as well. These websites
provide an estimate based on recent sales of nearby homes but are not always accurate or up-to-date.
way to find out is to talk to your local real estate agent. They will be able to look at your home and give you most recent
prices of homes that have sold that are similar to yours. You can also contact a professional appraiser and pay them to do
an appraisal on your home.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Illinois in Top 10 For Foreclosures
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Despite Nevada's legislative efforts to slow foreclosures, the state still clocked in the nation's
highest foreclosure rate for the 34th month in a row, followed by California, Florida, Arizona and Idaho. Rounding out the top 10 were Illinois, Michigan, Georgia, Maryland and Utah.
number of homeowners on the brink of losing their homes dipped in October, the third straight monthly decline, as foreclosure
prevention programs helped more borrowers.
But foreclosure filings are still up 19 percent from a year ago, RealtyTrac
Inc. said Thursday, and rising job losses continue to threaten the stabilizing trend.
More than 332,000 households,
or one in every 385 homes, received a foreclosure-related notice in October, such as a notice of default or trustee's sale.
That's down 3 percent from September.
Banks repossessed more than 77,000 homes last month, down from nearly 88,000
homes in September.
Congress last week also extended and expanded a key federal tax credit for homebuyers that
has been credited for boosting home sales recently.
Buyers who have owned their current homes for at least five
years are eligible for tax credits of up to $6,500, while first-time homebuyers or anyone who hasn't owned a home in
the last three years would still get up to $8,000. To qualify, buyers have to sign a purchase agreement by April 30,
2010, and close by June 30.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Fannie Mae Announces Deed-For-Lease Program
9:36 am cst
Fannie Mae has just announced a new Deed-for-Lease Program (D4L) that allows eligible borrowers
facing foreclosure (or their tenants) to stay in their primary residences. Under D4L, the borrower transfers ownership of
the property to the lender through a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure and the borrower (or the tenant) signs a lease for up to
12 months. The program is designed for borrowers who don't qualify for other workout solutions, including modifications, or
who do not meet their obligations under the modification. This program will hopefully minimize displacement of families and
deterioration of neighborhoods that often occurs when homes are left vacant. The rent may not exceed 31 percent of the family's
gross income. Fannie reserve the right to market the property during the lease term and may sell it to an investor subject
to the lease.
For the full news release, click here.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Mortgage Holders Facing Foreclosure After Title Company Goes Belly Up
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The Chicago Tribune is reporting that at least seven Midwestern homeowners who refinanced their homes
through Counselors Title are now wondering what's going to happen to their homes, and what happened to the $1.6 million that
was supposed to pay off their loans. These homeowners have been given notice of foreclosure due to the fact that the check
sent to their lenders to pay off their loan in connection with a refinance has bounced.
The Illinois attorney
general's office confirmed last week that it is investigating the now-shuttered Counselors' Title, a real estate title insurance
agency that had six offices in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, after receiving three consumer complaints. The state also began
investigating two other, but unspecified, title companies in the past several months. All the complaints involve mortgage
refinancing and situations in which the payoff checks to the original mortgage holders bounced or wire transfers were never
deposited in accounts.
Late Friday, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional
Regulation issued a cease and desist order against Counselors and its three principals, James Erwin and Shari Erwin of Chicago
and Damian Sichak of Homer Glen, meaning they cannot easily operate a title agency in Illinois. The Erwins are both currently
licensed attorneys in the state of Illinois. "It will be on their records with the state of Illinois," said spokeswoman
Sue Hofer. "We have no authority to make victims whole. We can stop them from doing it to the next person, but don't
have the legal authority to reverse the financial loss."
The department also said it is assisting the attorney
general's office in its investigation.
Title insurance is an important but rarely questioned part of the mortgage
process. In a home purchase in Illinois, a seller pays for an owner's policy that protects the buyer's interest in the property
up until the point of sale. The buyer pays for a policy protecting the lender. When a homeowner refinances a mortgage, they
are required to buy a new lender's policy. Few opt to purchase a new owner's policy, which some experts say could protect
a homeowner if problems occur with the refinancing.
The crux of the problem for these homeowners who closed their
transactions at Counselors' offices is that Ticor Title Insurance Co., a national title insurance underwriter, says it terminated
its underwriting agreement with Counselors before those closings occurred.
One of the lenders involved, Chase,
said last week that it plans to pursue parallel paths, negotiating with Ticor to cover the loan payoff and also foreclosing
on one of the homes. "We may have to pursue foreclosure, but we will work to protect the borrower's credit record by
keeping that separate from the foreclosure action and, ultimately, this would allow us to let the borrower stay in the home,"
said bank spokesman Tom Kelly.
If the foreclosure goes through and Chase purchases the property at the sheriff's
auction, the bank plans to allow the homeowner to remain in the home he built in 1993 while it waits to get paid by the title
For the entire article in the Chicago Tribune, click here.
Friday, November 6, 2009
Lenders Not Properly Keeping Track of Mortgage Paperwork
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There was a great article a couple of weeks ago that I wanted to blog about today regarding lenders
losing borrowers' mortgage paperwork. This is especially pertinent in the current foreclosure crisis we are in because many
borrowers have legal defense against the foreclosure proceedings.
It used to be when a
borrower was in foreclosure, the courts just rubber stamped the paperwork and the foreclosure was rarely contested. Now, any
time I have a client who calls me who is in foreclosure, I highly recommend that they look at any defenses they have against
For example, on October 9th in federal bankruptcy court in the Southern
District of New York, the court ruled that PHH Mortgage hadn't proved its claim to a delinquent borrower's home in White Plains
and wiped out a $461,263 mortgage debt on the property. Yes, you read it right! The mortgage debt was wiped out per
If the lender can't come forward with your paperwork and proof of ownership,
judges are not looking kindly on their rights to foreclose on a borrower's home. Many notes have been lost in the shuffle
due to the regular process of bundling loans and selling them to investors. Many of these notes were not adequately documented
or tracked. In some cases, no one knows really who even owns the loan.
So if you are in
trouble and in danger of foreclosure, please contact an attorney to find out your options.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Senate Approves to Keep....and Expand Homebuyer's Credit
The Senate today voted to extend and expand a tax credit for homebuyers on a 98-0 vote, The House is
expected to follow suit within days, and President Obama is expected to sign it into law.
2:36 pm cst
The legislation would extend the $8,000 credit for first-time homebuyers until
April 30. It is set to expire at the end of the month. It also would provide a new $6,500 tax break for existing homeowners
who want to move up to a new home, as long as they have lived in their current residence for five consecutive years out of
the last eight.
The bill also would increase the level of qualifying incomes to $125,000 for individual tax filers
and $225,000 for joint filers. Those earning up to $145,000 individually or up to $245,000 jointly would receive a smaller
credit that decreases as income rises. The tax credits apply to home purchases of $800,000 or less.