Monthly Archives: September 2011

Senior exemption: MIA on Cook tax bills next week

For years and years, the Cook County senior exemption for real estate taxes, which reduces the tax bill of those over 65 years old by about $250, did not  require an annual application.

Now it does.

Surprise, it’s all messed up because no one realizes that they have to file the application.

It appears that one in five seniors did not file the new application for the senior exemption. So when tax bills are mailed next week, seniors across Chicagoland will hit the roof when they see they did not get their senior exemption. Or they will just pay the higher tax bill, thinking they already got the exemption.

This can be cured after the tax bill is received by filing for a certificate of error before the tax bill is paid. Tell your senior friends to check their tax bills, because there’s a good chance the exemption will not be there.


Buyers’ title charges getting out of control

When it comes to real estate closings, Sellers and Buyers agree on almost nothing, except maybe one thing: They both hate paying  for title insurance. Clients on both sides react to paying for title insurance like they are being forced to pay for a minority interest in a strip mine in Nevada or a timeshare in Biloxi.

Typically, the seller pays for the owner’s title insurance policy for the buyer. The buyer pays for a lender’s title policy and also pays the closing fee.  In the past, the seller’s title bill is more than the buyer’s title charges. Not any more. The Buyer pays more than the Seller now. Way more.

I recently did a condo closing in Chicago and I was shocked at how high buyer’s title insurance has climbed. Below are the charges from this closing:

The reason for this is that the “closing fee” paid for by the buyer has climbed.

Also, title companies now pack every imaginable up charge known to man onto the buyer’s side of the title. Take a look at this list of extras from this same closing.





Most egregious here is the “chain of title” fee. All lenders request a 24 month chain of title. This is to verify that the title history of the property for the past two years. All the title company does is photocopy the title search and send it to the lender. Charging $250 for this is insane.

The biggest rip-off charge of all is the “inflation enhancement endorsement.” One title company, that will go unnamed, loves this one and adds it to the Buyer’s bill on all files. Supposedly this endorsement, which costs $150, will increase the amount of the title insurance as the property value rises. Just what everyone needs more title insurance coverage while home values are sinking by the day. I always ask to remove this one, because it’s a joke.

Title insurance is a necessity. But all these add-on charges are getting out of control. I know I’m supposed to have a nifty summary of what to do about this, but I really don’t . Just don’t pay for the inflation endorsement and budget accordingly if you are a Buyer.