There’s a reason why all the law drama shows do so well on TV. There’s so much material revolving around lawyers and the people who need to call one—even if those people are ordinary people doing ordinary things, like buying and selling properties. Along with property managers—attorneys may be keepers of some of the best stories to come out of the Windy City’s co-ops, condos and HOA communities. They hear and see (and litigate) it all, from the crazy cat lady who has imaginary felines running around in her backyard to the suspected mobster who may—or may not?—be running a house of ill repute out of his condo apartment.
We found a few of Chicago’s residential legal pros, and got them to tell us some of those stories. Naturally, the names of the innocent (and not-so-innocent) were kept entirely confidential, and identifying information was altered to protect the parties involved.
“Being a real estate attorney means being part negotiator, part therapist and part big brother,” says John O’Leary, a partner at the O’Leary Law Firm LLC in Chicago. “The emotions involved in residential real estate transactions often cloud the ultimate goal of a smooth closing.”
Recently, O’Leary represented a buyer who did the final walkthrough of the condo they were purchasing and was horrified to discover that the seller had moved everything out of the house...except for all the furniture in the basement.
“When the realtor asked the seller why the basement was still full of furniture an hour before the closing, the seller responded that he was selling the house—not the basement.” Needless to say, some serious—and immediate—clarification was needed to explain to the seller that selling the home meant selling the whole home, including the below-ground parts.