Some of the most successful professional salespeople in Chicagoland sell real estate. Property values have largely bounced back since the Great Recession. The negative equity percentage is still high, but it is much lower than it was around 2010. So, for the most part, real estate commissions are as healthy as they have been in recent years.
This means that an Illinois real estate license is quite valuable. Especially since real estate license-holders work so hard to obtain those licenses, it is important to know the most common ways that regulators might try to take away your livelihood.
Because of Tom Glasgow’s highly specialized experience in this area, he has a good track record of defending real estate professionals and private individuals against the unlimited resources of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.
Even if you do not have any malicious intent, money mistakes can cost you your license faster than any other type of misconduct. Any money that you receive that is in any way related to a possible sale should go into an escrow account. Do not move it until after the deal has closed.
Unintentional mistakes are especially common among property managers, since they must deal with rents, deposits, and other types of funds. Any commingling is strictly prohibited. That especially includes “borrowing” funds.
Similar to financial mistakes, it is easy to walk into mortgage fraud. Consider the following example, which is common in Illinois. Seller and buyer both want to complete the transaction. While the buyer is a little short of cash for a down payment, the buyer also has a high income and rather good credit. So, the real estate agent arranges for the buyer to make a slightly smaller down payment and borrow just a little more than the house is actually worth. Everyone wins, right?
Not as far as HUD is concerned. This agency sometimes refuses to deal with Chicago agents who are even accused of mortgage fraud. So, the consequences of any kind of mortgage fraud are quite severe. As a side note, it is no defense to have an opinion from a third party, such as a mortgage banker, that the transaction is okay.
Failure to Cooperate
A failure to cooperate is a classic “head in the sand” approach to an investigation. Many professionals believe that if they ignore a problem, it will go away. Besides, they reason, talking to investigators just makes things worse.
Sometimes that approach works. If an agent refuses to provide information on the advice of an attorney, investigators sometimes drop the matter. That normally happens only in the case of very minor infractions. Anything more significant, and investigators assume that stonewalling agents are trying to conceal wrongdoing. That is tantamount to a guilty plea.
Unauthorized Practice of Law
These laws may not last too much longer. In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that the state of North Carolina could not restrict teeth whitening to only dentists. Soon, the Justices may decide whether or not to extend this ruling to barbers in Missouri. For the foreseeable future, however, the Illinois unauthorized practice of law statutes is not going anywhere.
Typically, Chicago real estate agents can prepare simple contracts, like sales and lease agreements, but complex contracts are off limits. So, what is the difference between the two? No one really knows for sure. It is a good idea to include a disclaimer like “This contract is subject to review the parties’ attorneys.” Language like that is normally curative.
Contact Assertive Attorneys
Be sure you guard your real estate license closely. For a confidential consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Schaumburg, contact Glasgow & Olsson.
(image courtesy of Chris Greenhow)