Protect yourself!

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You decide it’s time to finally place your property on the market and contact a real estate broker to list it. The Realtor explains the listing contract to you, which is a legally binding contract and is enforceable under United States laws. The contract should always include basic information such as the parties’ names and a sales price along with being signed by all parties involved.

Make sure the terms are specific. In Illinois, a contract written for more than one year can, or one that is automatically renewable after one year, can be determined void.

One of the biggest arguments between homeowners and brokers occurs AFTER a contract for purchase is presented. Personal property in the home can sometimes be seen as “staying with the home” in the buyer’s eyes. Make sure when listing your home that you tell your agent exactly what is staying and what is going. That beautiful crystal chandelier you have hanging in your entryway, for example: If you are planning on removing it prior to moving out, make sure that is is specified in your listing contract. Many times, it’s easier to remove it from the property before the first potential buyers sets foot in the door.

Fees or broker commissions should always be specified in the contract. A contract should not only state what your total fee will be, but should also state what your broker is willing to pay to another brokerage for securing a buyer. This is usually called a coop fee. Your contract should also detail who will be covering the marketing costs for the home. Is it part of the total commission paid upon the sale, and will that fee be paid whether the property sells or not?

Your contract should also state what the broker will do for you. In Illinois, a broker should honor the COLD AC code: Care, Obedience, Loyalty, Disclosure, Accounting, and Confidentiality. Make sure details on each matter are specified in your listing contract, including information regarding dual agency. Dual agency is when a broker not only represents you as the listing agent, but also represents the buyers as their buyer’s agent.

Lastly, who will be entering your home and during what times? Make sure those parameters are clearly defined. Will your agent have a key to your home, or will a lock box be installed at the property? Will your agent be present during all showings? Will you?

Placing your home on the market can be a very emotional issue, but you need to set your emotions aside when crafting a listing contract. You have to be sure to protect yourself against all problems that may arise in the process of selling your house. Remember a verbal contract is not enforceable in Illinois, so make sure everything is in writing!

For more, call 847-292-4700, e-mail or visit

About Giuseppe Zerillo

Giuseppe Zerillo is the managing broker and owner of Zerillo Realty Inc. He is active on many boards, serving as village trustee of Harwood Heights and corporate secretary for Casa Italia. In 2011, he received the IANU Foundation's 2011 David Award for outstanding promise in the field of real estate, and in 2012 he was honored by the Illinois State Crime Commission for his community outreach. Constantly seeking opportunities to give back, he donates to several charities and raises money for children with disabilities.

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