Chicago Real Estate Lawyer HomeReal Estate Law ServicesAbout Rachell M. HorbenkoAbout the PracticeClient TestimonialsUseful LinksSpecials/CouponsFAQsReferralsContact Me

Become a fan on Facebook!

Follow me on Twitter!

Give me a review on Yelp!

Violet and I

Chicagoland real estate purchases, real estate sales, short sales, foreclosures, first-time buyer representation, Illinois condominium association representation, estate planning for everyone, powers of attorney, quit claim deeds, landlord/tenant issues, forcible detainer/evictions, civil unions, foreclosure defense and more...

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 gay, lesbian and transgender 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 have.
Ask me too about help with personal injury, divorce, and any other legal issues! 

7527 N. Seeley Avenue, Suite 1, Chicago, IL 60645
773.818.9054 office/cell
866.381.4238 efax

Recommend my site by clicking here!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

From Crain's Chicago:

MTV's "The Real World" show, where seven strangers move into a building together and allow cameras to film the inevitable drama for all the world to see, wants to set up shop in the Randolph-Fulton area in the West Loop.


An affiliate of Van Nuys, California-based Bunim/Murray Productions is planning to film an edition of the long-running reality show at 1100 W. Randolph St., according to people familiar with the project.


"The Real World's" designs for the property is another marker of growing out-of-town interest in the fast-changing neighborhood, which has become a magnet for restaurant operators, real estate investors and tech firms, including Google Inc.


On June 20, the Bunim affiliate is scheduled to discuss its plans before the city's Zoning Board of Appeals, according to the panel's agenda for this month. The firm must obtain special permits to allow for “a seven-bed, temporary, group living residence” in the property, the agenda shows. A message left for an executive at Bunim, a unit of French production firm Banijay Group, was not immediately returned.


The production company said in an application to the city it plans to use the property for five months at most, shooting the show over a 12-week period.


Alterations it wants to make to the property, like a new paint job, lighting, security cameras and greenery, “would be compatible with the character of the neighborhood — we want this building to embody Chicago,” the application says.


The Bunim affiliate also wants to build shower stalls in the property and a kitchen, the application shows. Security guards will be present 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


The company has held casting calls in Chicago to find people willing to star in the forthcoming show, according to news reports. MTV broadcasts "The Real World."


In 2001, a season of "The Real World" was filmed in Wicker Park, with the building at 1934 W. North Ave. serving as the cast's home base.


The production drew protesters to the building, one of whom yelled at show participants that the crowd wanted to “to liberate you from the agents of unreality,” according to a Chicago Reader story.


For its latest Chicago show, "The Real World" will occupy a property owned by a venture of veteran New York retail broker David Firestein, who declined to comment.


Greg Kirsch, executive managing director in the local office of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank who's handling leasing at the property, didn't respond to a phone call. 

1:46 pm cdt 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day, everyone! Have a safe and fun weekend.

And a big thanks to all of the people who serve and have served our wonderful military. We appreciate your service! 

9:52 am cdt 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

3:47 pm cdt 

The Spring Market Is Here!
If you have not already considered it, and you're in the market, talk to a real estate agent about selling your home. Buyers are out there in the nice weather looking for homes to buy, and inventory is very low. You may be able to sell your home for more than you thought!
1:05 pm cdt 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Illinois Offers a New First-Time Homebuyers Program

First-time home buyers in Illinois could receive further assistance in the process with a new loan program.

A new program, Welcome Home Illinois, will allow qualified first-time homeowners the opportunity to receive $7,500 toward the down payment or closing costs as well as a 3.99 percent interest rate on a secure 30-year fixed mortgage. Governor Pat Quinn announced the program Tuesday.

Borrowers must be first-time home buyers or haven't owned a home in the past three years, contribute the greater of 1 percent of the overall purchase or $1,000 toward the down payment and have a credit score of at least 640.

Welcome Home Illinois is funded through the Illinois Affordable Housing Trust Fund, and Illinois Jobs Now!

Interested home buyers can find additional information about the program and a list of lenders on the Illinois Housing Development Authority website.

4:03 pm cdt 

What Happens at a Closing?

Many of my first time buyers ask me what exactly happens at closing, and how long it usually takes. Here is a brief outline of what happens at a closing table.

1) First, you will sign loan documents. Your attorney will be there to explain all the documents you're signing, and to make sure the terms that you agreed to in your Good Faith Estimate are the terms reflected in the loan documents.

2) Your attorney will also review Seller's documents at that time, including a deed, affidavit of title (a promise from Seller that title is clear), title policy or commitment that has been "waived" (showing that title is clear from liens and encumbrances) and other pertinent documents for the title company. If you are buying a single family home, and a survey is being provided by the Seller, that will also be reviewed at that time. Keep in mind when you purchase a foreclosed or short sale property, a survey may not be provided at closing.

3) After your loan documents are signed, they will be sent to your lender in order for them to review them. This may take a matter of minutes, or longer, depending on how busy the lender is. There may be some waiting involved, and this is the wild card in guessing how long a closing may take. Some closings will take an hour or two, some may take longer. There's no way for anyone to make an educated guess as to how long it will take because of this.

Once the lender gives a funding "number", or funding approval, you officially have your loan, and you're a homeowner! You will leave the closing table with copies of all documents you signed, keys to the property, and possibly a refund check if you brought too much money to the table. I'll blog more on this in the days to come, and give more detail. 

10:26 am cdt 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Foreclosure Looming?
I have been getting a lot of calls from clients to ask what they should do when they can't afford their home. Please consult an attorney before you do anything. You DO have options. I can help!
2:10 pm cst 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Chicago Bed Bug Ordinance Taking Effect This Month

The City of Chicago has recently been named the nation’s #1 city infested with bed bugs.  

This summer, the Chicago City Council passed an ordinance aimed at putting an end to the spread of bed bugs which will go into effect on December 23, 2013.  

The key Landlord responsibilities are as follows: 

  • To supply a tenant starting or renewing a lease with an informational brochure
  • To maintain a written record of bed bug control efforts
  • To send a written notice to the tenant explaining their responsibilities before the inspection
  • To provide pest control services when bed bugs are found by a pest management professional as many times as necessary to eliminate the problem
  • To inspect within 10 days and treat if necessary the two units on either side as well as the two units above and below of the infested unit

 Tenants also have responsibilities: 

  • To notify the landlord in writing of any suspected or known infestation in the tenants’ unit, clothing, furniture or personal property within 5 days
  • To notify the landlord in writing of any recurring or unexplained bites, stings or sores suspected to be caused by bed bugs
  • To cooperate with the landlord in the control, treatment, and eradication of bed bugs including
  • To grant access at reasonable times upon reasonable notice for inspections and treatments/to not interfere
  • To prepare unit prior to treatment including:  cleaning, dusting, vacuuming
  • To properly dispose of personal property that cannot be treated or cleaned before the pest control services

The Chicago Bed Bug Ordinance also mandates the disposal of bedding, clothing, furnishings or other infested materials.  For example, you may not place, discard or dispose of any bedding, clothing or furnishings infested on the public way (i.e. dumpsters, sidewalks, hallways).  To get rid of infested items, you must enclose the item in a plastic bag and label it as infested.  Doing so should prevent neighbors from bringing to their home infested items, therefore stalling the spread of bed bugs.

Please note that this section of the ordinance does not apply to tenants living in assisted living or a shared housing establishment, when the establishment provides assistance with daily living activities.  

The ordinance will be enforced by the Department of Buildings and the Department of Public Health.  If any person is found violating the ordinancethat person may be fined $300.00 to $1,000 per day for each offense.  By complying with the ordinance, these fees can be avoided.   The full ordinance can be found at  You can make a request for a City inspector here.

4:31 pm cst 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

New Guidelines for FHA Short Sales

Effective October 1, 2013 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced the following changes to their Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Short Sale requirements: 

  • Eligibility Requirements: To successfully complete a short sale under the FHA short sale program, the borrowers must meet the following requirements:
    • They cannot list the property with or sell it to anyone with whom they are related or have a close personal or business relationship.  In legal terms, it must be an "arm's-length" transaction.  Any knowing violation of the arm's-length requirement may be a violation of federal law.
    • Your mortgage must be in default, on the date the short sale transaction closes.
    • Before closing, any additional liens against the property must be released. A lien holder who demands a payment to release its lien must submit a written statement, and an agreement to release the lien if that amount is paid.
  • Financial Hardship Validation Requirement: For a standard preforeclosure sale, servicers must use a Deficit Income Test (DIT) to determine a homeowner's financial hardship.  The IRS Collection Financial Standards will be used to verify homeowners expenses not reflected in their credit report.  Only owner-occupied properties are eligible for the standard preforeclosure sale.
  • New Streamlined Short Sale Option: Homeowners eligible for a streamlined short sale may not be required to submit financial information or have a financial hardship.  Principal residences, second homes, investment properties and service members who have received Permanent Change of Station (PCS) Orders are potentially eligible.
  • Property Appraisal: The appraisal of your property should be completed within approximately ten business days.  After the appraisal, the short sale file will be updated and prepared for review.  In some cases, approval may be required by the investor and/or FHA, which may take more time.
  • Cash Contribution: As a new condition, you might be required to make a final payment (sometimes called a cash contribution) before or at closing.  This payment will reduce the deficiency balance.
  • Borrower's Incentive Compensation: If you are an owner occupant, acting in good faith, and successfully selling your property, you may be eligible for an incentive of up to $3,000.  If you are required to make cash contribution, you are not eligible for this incentive.
  • Short Sale Contract Addendum:
    • The revised FHA short sale addendum must be signed and dated by all parties.  Under this addendum, all parties agree that the subject property must be sold through an arm's-length transaction.  An arm's-length transaction is defined as a short sale between two unrelated parties that is characterized by a selling price and other conditions that would prevail in an open market environment.  Also, no hidden terms or special understandings can exist between any of the parties (e.g., buyer, seller, appraiser, sales agent, closing agent, and mortgagee) involved in the transaction.
  • Action Required: Review the Short Sale FHA Program guides located on the Agent Resource Center:
To review additional information about FHA requirements, please log on to Questions can be directed to Short Sale Customer/Agent care at 1.866.880.1232.

2:11 pm cdt 

National Foreclosure Settlement Rules Tweaked Amid Complaints

From today's Chicago Tribune...

The $25 billion national mortgage foreclosure settlement is getting tweaked, to address numerous complaints that mortgage servicers are falling short in their dealings with struggling borrowers.

When it was announced in February 2012, the settlement sought to compensate borrowers for wrongs they experienced in the foreclosure process. Equally important was the development of new mortgage servicing standards that applied to the nation’s five largest servicers, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Ally/GMAC.

But homeowners, housing counselors and state attorneys general have complained that the banks are not complying with many of the 304 standards they agreed to as part of the pact with the Justice Department, state attorneys general and the five companies.

Those standards "were supposed to eliminate headaches for borrowers, but homeowners continue to report problems," said Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, whose office is a member of the settlement's monitoring committee.

The changes announced Tuesday night by the committee, many of which were agreed to only by Bank of America and Wells Fargo, seek to correct those issues.

Under the new procedures announced Tuesday night, all five banks will give homeowners 60 days, instead of 30, to submit additional documents that might help them secure a loan modification before the home goes into foreclosure or moves toward a foreclosure-related sale. The banks also have promised to do a better job of overseeing employees who work with borrowers.

Two servicers, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, also agreed to adopt other policies, such as being more specific about what missing information they need from homeowners. Currently, if a borrower sends in a document but forgets to sign it, the servicer may send a letter saying the document is missing, rather than just telling the homeowner that they forgot to sign it.

Those two companies also agreed to escalate loan modification applications when a customer is being asked repeatedly for more documents. And they will use an online portal to submit documents and create a direct contact for the housing counseling agencies working with struggling homeowners.

The committee continues to discuss additional service improvements with the three other banks, according to Natalie Bauer, a Madigan spokeswoman.

In May, Madigan said she saw an "alarming" pattern of potential violations of loan modification servicing standards. Among them: In 60 percent of files reviewed by her office, servicers did not notify borrowers within the required five days that their applications for a loan modification were missing documents.  And in 45 percent of the files reviewed, servicers asked homeowners for documents multiple times.

In his June report on the settlement's progress, independent monitor Joseph A. Smith Jr., said four of the five banks were failing to comply with the servicing aspects of the settlement. At the time, Shaun Donovan, secretary of the  Department of Housing and Urban Development said the "deep and pervasive problems" in mortgage servicing were unacceptable. 

11:05 am cdt 

2014.06.01 | 2014.05.01 | 2014.04.01 | 2014.02.01 | 2013.12.01 | 2013.10.01 | 2013.09.01 | 2013.08.01 | 2013.06.01 | 2013.05.01 | 2013.03.01 | 2013.02.01 | 2013.01.01 | 2012.12.01 | 2012.11.01 | 2012.10.01 | 2012.09.01 | 2012.08.01 | 2012.07.01 | 2012.06.01 | 2012.05.01 | 2012.04.01 | 2012.03.01 | 2012.02.01 | 2012.01.01 | 2011.12.01 | 2011.11.01 | 2011.10.01 | 2011.09.01 | 2011.08.01 | 2011.07.01 | 2011.06.01 | 2011.05.01 | 2011.04.01 | 2011.03.01 | 2011.02.01 | 2011.01.01 | 2010.12.01 | 2010.11.01 | 2010.10.01 | 2010.09.01 | 2010.08.01 | 2010.07.01 | 2010.06.01 | 2010.05.01 | 2010.04.01 | 2010.03.01 | 2010.02.01 | 2010.01.01 | 2009.12.01 | 2009.11.01 | 2009.10.01 | 2009.09.01 | 2009.08.01 | 2009.07.01 | 2009.06.01 | 2009.05.01 | 2009.04.01 | 2009.03.01 | 2009.02.01 | 2009.01.01 | 2008.12.01 | 2008.11.01 | 2008.10.01 | 2008.09.01 | 2008.08.01 | 2008.07.01 | 2008.06.01 | 2008.05.01 | 2008.04.01 | 2008.03.01 | 2008.02.01 | 2008.01.01 | 2007.12.01 | 2007.10.01 | 2007.09.01

Link to web log's RSS file


Custom Search