Chicago Business, Real Estate & Commercial Law Blog

The risks of unmarried couple buying homes

Purchasing a home can be a big financial step for many people. However, for Illinois couples who are unmarried and considering purchasing a home together, it can be a financial misstep that they may regret should they decide to go their separate ways in the future.

Married couples are protected by many laws when they decide to get a divorce and divide their assets. Unmarried couples who decide to split and have to wrestle with dividing their assets are not afforded the same legal protections.

Home sellers with dual mortgages

Homeowners in Illinois who owe two mortgages on their home and who want to sell may be concerned if it is possible. However, the process of selling a home with two mortgages is not very different from that of selling a home with just one mortgage, but because there is a likelihood that the process may become difficult, it is important to understand the details.

Homeowners may use two mortgages for one house for a range of reasons, but they usually do so if they are unable to manage a 20 percent down payment and want to avoid paying for private mortgage insurance. Using a piggyback mortgage, the buyer will provide a 10 percent down payment for a property, obtain a mortgage to finance 80 percent of the home's selling price and then obtain a second mortgage for the remaining 10 percent. For individuals who can make both monthly payments on time, this may be a practical solution to buying a home.

Buying unlisted homes

People who are looking for homes in Illinois may spot a home that they like that is not for sale. However, even though it may not be on the open market, that does not mean that the homeowners may not be willing to sell.

The first step of buying a home that is not for sale is determining why the home is not on the market. There could be a number of reasons for this, and each one would require the person interested in buying the home tailoring his or her offer to accommodate the situation.

How to protect an idea under development

For some Illinois residents, the goal is to escape the corporate life and start their own companies. However, the first step in starting a company is usually the hardest. That step is actually telling someone about the idea that is going to launch the business. It is common for entrepreneurs to believe that their idea will be stolen or otherwise used in some form as soon as they make it known.

Fortunately, there are steps that someone can take to protect their intellectual property (IP). For instance, it may be possible to register for a utility patent or a trademark. At the earliest stages, it may be possible to use confidentiality agreements to ensure that ideas are not stolen or otherwise communicated to others without the owner's permission. While not foolproof, they communicate the intention that the idea is not to be shared freely with others.

Tips for small businesses using influencer marketing

Startup businesses in Illinois might want to use influencer marketing to promote themselves. Influencer marketing was once a method only available to large businesses with big advertising budgets, but that is no longer the case. Influencers are no longer necessarily celebrities. Some may simply be people who have popular accounts on social media sites.

There are several ways that a company can get the attention of an influence marketer. One small company contacted several businesses and journalists to find out how its research could be useful and later to share its findings. This meant that the company's report was mentioned in publications associated with those companies and journalists. Researching how other companies have used influencer marketing can be useful. For example, one company that sells beauty products has non-celebrities promoting its product. A juice company has been successful with lifestyle bloggers.

House hunting in the fall

Many people living in Illinois think that during the warmer months is the best time to go house hunting. While these homebuyers aren't exactly wrong, some real estate experts believe that there are serious advantages to buying a home in the fall.

One major advantage is that there are fewer people looking for homes this time of year, so buyers are often more motivated to sell. Many buyers aren't looking forward to moving during the winter months, or even worse, having to hang on to their homes for several more months until spring returns. Since buyers often have fewer offers in the fall, they may be more willing to consider those they get and to negotiate so that all parties get their needs met.

Seasonal pop-up stores help retail landlords fill space

Many consumers in Illinois shopping for Halloween costumes or decorations will find their way into pop-up stores like Spirit Halloween. These online businesses that only seek out brick-and-mortar retail space for about two months a year help owners of commercial real estate fill gaps, at least temporarily, left by the increasing rate of retail store closures.

These seasonal holiday shops have been visible in strip malls for years, and malls that once only wanted permanent tenants have begun to welcome holiday pop-up shops. A punishing retail landscape has left many openings in big-box commercial real estate across the country. A director of a national real estate division said the temporary leases serve as a bandage for landlords wounded by store closures and bankruptcies. The firm Cushman & Wakefield reported that in 2016, more than 4,000 major retail stores closed. This followed the loss of about 3,600 stores in 2015. For 2017, analysts predict the closure of nearly 5,000 stores.

Saving up for a down payment

Many people would like to buy a home but are concerned about affording a down payment. While saving enough cash to qualify for a mortgage is a challenge, some prospective Illinois home buyers mistakenly believe that they need a much larger down payment than is actually necessary.

While it is true that the parents and grandparents of millennials often had to pay as much as 20 percent of a home's value as a down payment, those days are largely over. Statistics show that the average down payment for first-time home buyers is somewhere around 6 percent. This is due, in part, to programs that incentivize first home purchases.

Due diligence protects commercial real estate buyers

The process of buying or selling commercial real estate in Illinois often goes through several steps. It may begin with soft negotiations, for example, and the execution of a letter of intent. In many cases, due diligence begins after the letter of intent is signed. Due diligence is the process by which the buyer examines the assets to be purchased. Among the most important factors it should cover are the seller's books and records, environmental and zoning compliance, title issues, potential liabilities and cash flows.

The purpose of due diligence is to ensure that representations made by the seller during negotiations are true and accurate. In a case where due diligence reveals inconsistencies or facts that the buyer doesn't like, the buyer might walk away from the deal or attempt to negotiate a price adjustment. The buyer may demand, or the seller may offer, additional warranties or representations at this point.

NAR report predicts falling CRE vacancy rates in all sectors

Demand for office space in Illinois and around the country is expected to remain high for the foreseeable future according to the latest commercial real estate forecast from the National Association of Realtors. The trade group says that office vacancy rates in the United States will fall to 11.9 percent in the year ahead, and the report also suggests that the competition for available space will cause vacancy rates to decline in the industrial, retail and multifamily sectors.

Experts say that this robust demand is being fueled by an economy that continues to post impressive job creation and growth figures. However, investors and developers are beginning to move away from larger and more established markets. According to the NAR report, commercial property sales in large cities fell by 5 percent during the second quarter while the number of transactions completed in smaller markets increased by 4 percent.

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