Every three years the Cook County assessor increases the assessments for real estate. The schedule for the so-called triennial reassessments goes by township– Palatine and Barrington townships will be reassessed in the 2004 tax bill issued in 2005.
Notices were mailed to Barrington homeowners a few days ago. They will be mailed to Palatine homeowners the first week of August. Why is this important? You only have 30 days from the mailing of the assessment to protest the increase.
The 7% assessment cap that was just passed should help keep large increases under control. It is very important to check your new assessment and to file a protest if it looks too high. If you miss the 30 day window you are out of luck for more three more years.
One of my favorite weblogs, because it is so well-written. Real Lawyers Have Blogs is by Kevin O’Keefe. He helps attorneys to understand the value of weblogs. The information there is applicable to anyone really, not just attorneys. He also has a hosting service for web logs. Many weblogs are free-ranging ramblefests, but this one is concise and interesting.
Mortgage brokers are middlemen who prepare a loan application and submit it to an end lender for you. They are paid about 1.5% of the loan amount from the end lender. Lately I have come to the conclusion that the most (not all) mortgage brokers actually hinder a client trying to close on his or her home.
It is best to obtain a mortgage from a local representative (not a 1-800 line that is out of state) of a direct lender (with no middle man). This way you deal with a person who cares about your closing, wants it closed on time and smoothly and will make sure that the money is there at closing. Examples of direct lenders would be Harris Bank, Fifth Third, Wells Fargo, Countrywide and Charter One (Washington Mutual is usually a hassle, but is getting a little better.)
Reasons not to use a mortgage broker:
1. The broker takes the application and may not pass all of the information on to the end lender, forcing you to resupply the information at closing. With mortgage brokers we frequently cannot disburse the loan because the broker did not give the end lender some documentation and we have to hunt down the broker at closing (of course he or she is not there) and find the missing documents.
2. Often it takes at least 72 hours from the time the closing is scheduled to prepare the documents and close. That’s too long 24 to 48 hours is plenty of time.
3. Mortgage brokers charge document preparation, underwriting fees, review fees and other garbage can charges. The end lender also charges these same fees. Why pay two sets of fees?
4. The funds for the mortgage rarely come from the mortgage broker, but are usually wired from the end lender to closing. The end lender does not know you and really does not care about you or your closing. The end lender only cares about having their loan file correctly documented and disbursed. Many of them do not even BEGIN to send the funds for the mortgage until the closing is over. They start to wire the money after a signed RESPA or HUD-1 is faxed to them. This means your moving van will remain parked in front of the new house (with you paying the movers) until the wire comes in. This is absolutely wrong and no client should have to put up with it. The money should be at closing in the form of a check or should be wired the day before closing.
If you must use a mortgage broker, but be sure that they fund their own loans by check at closing, that there are not duplicate charges and that the loan representative will be at closing.