Attorney Review

  • Although Illinois does not require buyers to use a lawyer to prepare the purchase agreement, Illinois is considered an attorney-review state. This means that it is customary for both parties to have a real estate lawyer look over the purchase agreement before it is finalized. The purchase agreement will have terms regarding how many days each party has for the attorney review (typically five days) and what happens if the attorneys fail to reach an agreement during this time.

  • Ordinarily, both parties can walk away from the purchase agreement with no penalty during this review period. The attorneys will review the entire agreement and can propose modifications to any part of the agreement except the purchase price and the broker's fees. The attorneys are likely to propose modifications after the house has been inspected, so the attorney review period and the house inspection tend to happen during the same time frame.

  • When there is an attorney review period clause in a real estate contract, the initial contract that you sign will only be conditional. In most cases, you are only signing to confirm the agreed upon price and that there will be an attorney review period. The typical attorney review period is 5 business days after signing the initial contract. During the 5-day period, your attorney will need to decide whether to:

    • Approve the contract;

    • Reject the contract; or

    • Entering into negotiations to modify the contract.

  • The attorney review period allows either the buyer or the seller to modify the contract to meet their particular needs. Your attorney will review the contract and suggest modifications to the contract that would be in your best interest. If the contract is not expressly rejecting or approved, your attorney will make an initial request for modification of the original contract terms within the 5-days allowed for attorney review. Maybe you want to add real estate tax provisions to the contract. You might also want to make the contract contingent on certain terms as well. The attorney review period is the time to make sure all of these terms are added to the contract.

  • The other party has the right to accept or reject the proposed changes. The other party may also want to counter the proposed changes and make additional proposals. During these negotiations, either party may walk away from the transaction without penalty if there is a failure to agree upon mutually acceptable terms.

  • If the 5-day attorney review period passes without anyone making proposed changes, then no changes will be made to the initial contract terms. Both parties will be bound by the terms of the initial contract.

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