Thursday, September 07, 2006

Caveat Emptor

Before I resume with the latest twist in the ongoing saga of my developer, let’s pause for a little self help session.

While I’ve focused on my developer in this blog, from what you nice people have been sending me he’s not the only developer executing questionable business and construction decisions.

The way the laws and ordinances in the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago stand any bozo can call him or herself a “developer.”

Unfortunately the onus is on you to do exhaustive due diligence on your developer and the condo development before you sign any contract.

Trust me cats and kittens there are few, if any, protections in the State of Illinois or the City of Chicago for the newly fleeced condo owner.

Lobbying your elected officials will hopefully make that a thing of the past.

Until that great day comes, I’m going to pass along a few tips from my soon to be released “Developer/Condo Checklist.”

That’s only the working title. It will change before I put it out to the masses to be downloaded for a mere $35.

Now granted I’m not reinventing the wheel. What I’m including on this checklist has been in past posts of “I Hate My Developer.”

None of this is any big secret.

With the click of a mouse all of you smart cookies can dig this stuff up for yourselves---for free might I add---and go on your merry way.

If your idea of a good time is going back through hundreds of my posts, please click away.

It has been my experience that even people familiar with the process of selecting a real estate agent, purchasing a condo, finding the best rate for your mortgage and coordinating a move are a little less than familiar on how to see if their developer or their development is on the level.

Unfortunately a sound education in this matter usually comes the hard way.

Payment is tendered in personal frustration and your hard earned cash in the form of special assessments.

If you’re gonna spend thousands of dollars investing in a piece of property, what’s another $35?

But I digress, ladies and gentlemen on to a few selected tips.

Before you put your name on the dotted line of any real estate contract find out the following:

What is the actual legal name of the condominium development?
Who is the developer?
Does the developer have partners?

Take the above information and hit the treasurer trove of governmental websites.

If you live in Illinois has the development been registered with the Secretary of State’s Office? Do a Corp\LLC search and find see what you unearth.

If you live in Cook County you can find out if the developer, any of his or her partners or the development (under it’s registered name with the Secretary of State) has any past or present lawsuits pending. You can find this information by doing a search on the Clerk of the Circuit Court’s website.

When you get to the Clerk’s page click “online case info” link on the left hand side of the page, select full electronic docket search and then decide if you’d like to search either the civil, criminal or chancery (foreclosure) division. Then choose if you’d like to search by last name, filing date or case number.

Frankly speaking searching by name has always brought me the best results.

Obviously local laws and the availability of this information on-line will vary. We are fortunate enough in Cook County and in the State of Illinois to be able to access this information at the click of a mouse.

One of the holdups of the checklist is preparing my disclaimer and such legalese for you folks who live outside of Cook County, Illinois.

I want as many people as possible to benefit from my hard won knowledge but I also want to be very specific and clear what you’re getting and what you’re paying for.
It’s all about managing expectations.

If you know where to look and what to look for, most of the information is an open secret that’s just simply waiting for you to come along and take a look.

That’s all of the free nuggets I can reveal without giving away the store.

Hopefully I’ll have a comprehensive and informative product up on this site before Halloween. We’ll see.

Now if you want me to do the work for you, that’s a completely different matter.

However you choose to do it protect your interests concerning your condo, your rights as a consumer and as a soon to be property tax paying member of society---no one else is gonna do it for you.

A little nose poking and question asking will go a long way.

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