Closings (step-by-step)


Q: Am I eligible for the $99 closing fee?
A: Our LOW , LOW $99 closing fee is offered solely to Sellers of residential real estate in the Chicago and suburban area. Residential buyers and commercial sale clients, please call or email us for competitive rates.

Q: What legal services are provided for the $99 fee?
We will provide all the customary services to ensure that your closing is completed expeditiously and efficiently, including:

  • Review and propose modifications (when necessary) to the Sales Contract and Riders;
  • Review Professional Inspection Reports and respond to any requests for repairs and/or credits;
  • Provide information which may be requested and correspond with the Buyer’s attorney, lenders,
  • brokers, title officers, condominium associations, etc.
  • Order, review and clear the Title Commitment from the title insurance company and advise of any
  • outstanding liens, mortgages or encumbrances to title;
  • Obtain all necessary zoning certificates, water department certificates, paid assessment letters,
  • surveys, loan payoffs and routine releases;
  • Prepare State, County and municipal transfer tax declarations;
  • Prepare for and attend the closing, including: draft all closing documents (i.e. Deed, Bill of Sale,
  • Affidavit of Title, Closing Statement, etc) and calculate the appropriate credits and prorations;
  • Provide the Client with customary documentation of the Closing and transfer all sale proceeds to you
  • or wire the funds to your selected bank account.

Q: How can you offer such a low fee?
A: W e are able to offer the low closing fee due, in part, to the fact that we are a licensed title agent for Chicago Title Insurance (CTI) and PNTN Title Co., two of the most well-known and highly-respected title companies in Illinois. In addition to our closing fee, we are also compensated by the title company for ordering, reviewing and clearing the title (tasks normally performed by the title company itself).

Q: Is it normal or common for the seller's attorney to perform these title tasks?
A: Yes, in fact, most Illinois real estate attorneys are also licensed title agents and do the exact same title work and are similarly compensated. However, most Illinois attorneys cannot offer the lower fees that we can offer, due to our higher volume and increased efficiency in handling these transactions. Also, it is a historical fact that, since the time of Abraham Lincoln, Illinois attorneys were primarily responsible for issuing title opinions to help facilitate real estate transactions. Commercial title companies did not come into common usage until the early-mid 1900's.

Q: Does the attorney's performance of title work (and compensation) increase the cost of title insurance to me?
A: Not at all. Performing these tasks for the title company does NOT increase the cost of title insurance to the client but, rather, allows us to better conduct the transaction and better serve our clients. You will receive a Title Disclosure from us, well in advance of the closing, to disclose all the title charges and give you an opportunity to compare the costs.

Q: Who pays for the cost of title insurance?
A: In Illinois, it has been the custom for the Seller to pay for the cost of Owner's Title Insurance and the Buyer to pay for the its lender's Loan Policy. This policy insures the Buyer and Lender that the Seller has good and marketable ("clean") title to the property. Virtually all real estate sale contract forms used by the Chicago Association of Realtors (CAR) ® and other suburban realtor associations include this provision.

Q: Will I have to pay for the title insurance if the transaction does not close?
A: No, you will not be responsible for paying for title insurance in the event the transaction does not close. However, rest assured that our office has a very good track record of seeing more that 90% of all transactions through to closing.


Its been said many times, but warrants repeating: "The purchase of your home is typically the largest single investment you'll ever make in your lifetime." So why, for such a relatively minimal cost, would you even consider not hiring a professional to make sure that its done right?

Over the course of nearly two decades of legal practice, Mr. Kottaras has earned a reputation with his clients as a skillful and knowledgeable negotiator. Which is why most of his clients are repeat clients or referrals from previous clients. At the Law Office of James Kottaras, we understand that "word-of-mouth" advertising is always the best and most economical form of advertising. That is why we make every effort to assure that your interests are protected and that you leave a satisfied customer.

Mr. Kottaras has represented buyers and sellers in real transactions, residential and commercial, valued in excess of $100 Million Dollars. He has represented first-time homebuyers, investors and seasoned developers. No matter who the client may be, he will provide you with the same personal attention and experience, from contracting to closing, to guarantee that your real estate transaction is closed efficiently and without delay. He will guide you through the closing process and deal with the other parties' brokers, attorneys, lenders, appraisers, inspectors and surveyors, so that you can attend to your own commitments, secure in knowing that you are represented by a professional Mr. Kottaras is also a licensed and practicing real estate broker who, combined with his legal training and experience, can provide you with the greatest skill and insight in reviewing and/or preparing your real estate contracts and disclosures and in negotiating the purchase price, prorations and closing credits. If you are not already represented by a realtor, please inquire as to what services we can provide you, or just click on the tab above for Realtor Services to find out more.

From Contract to Closing (A Step-by-Step Primer)

The following is a general outline of how a residential real estate transaction is closed in the Chicagoland metropolitan area, using a title company and escrow closing.


Buyer: Sign real estate contract and give broker earnest money check.

Seller: Sign real estate contract making it binding upon both parties.

Realtor: Gives one signed copy of contract to seller and one to buyer. Copies also forwarded to attorneys for review. Earnest money is deposited in an escrow account.

Attorneys: Review the contract for any possible modifications (typically within 5 days of acceptance of the contract).

Seller: Give their attorney or the REALTOR a copy of their last paid tax bill, survey and owner's title policy.

Buyer: Arrange for home inspection, if necessary.

Buyer: Make applications for mortgage; order homeowner insurance policy.

Buyer: Increase earnest money, if specified in contract.


Seller Atty: As may be necessary: (1) order title commitment and survey; (2) obtain water & zoning certificates; and (3) request payoff letter from Seller's mortgagee. In the case of a condominium, request paid assessment letter and release of any right of first refusal.

Buyer: Confirm that mortgage commitment is obtained as provided. Make sure Seller's attorney sends the title policy to buyer's lender.

Lender: Prepares mortgage and note and advises buyers that they are ready for signature.

Seller Atty: Schedules closing and prepare all Seller's documents, including deed, bill of sale, transfer declarations, etc.

Buyer: Obtain figure for the amount required to close and then obtain a certified or cashie's check for this amount.


All Parties: Meet for closing - money and documents change hands. Grant possession in accord with contract. Make sure all utilities have been notified and meters read.

At Closing, Sellers usually pay for:

  • Share of title expense
  • Real estate commission
  • State and County transfer taxes
  • Pro rata share of taxes
  • Survey, if required
  • Attorney's fee

At Closing, Buyers usually pay for:

  • Share of title expense - lender's duplicate title policy
  • Service charges on mortgage
  • City of Chicago (or other municipality) Transfer Tax
  • Insurance Premium
  • Prorated month's interest on mortgage
  • Attorneys fee

WARNING AND DISCLAIMER: The information contained herein is provided solely for the reader's benefit in becoming familiar with the legal matters discussed. Your particular facts may be different from the points above. You should not rely on the above data without first consulting an attorney to discuss the specific facts of your case and the law of your particular State.

Client Reviews
James provided very valuable guidance and expertise through the entire real estate purchase cycle. He was easily reachable and answered questions promptly and patiently. Highly recommended! Emmanuel Bioux
Very knowledge and was a true expert when it came to handling the sale of real-estate. Prompt, easily accessible, and very much an expert in the field. Highly recommend to all those in the Chicagoland area. Danny Del Campo
James was involved in my first ever real estate purchase. He was very helpful in walking me through the several steps, and he was ready to accommodate my needs, including negotiating extensions and credits. I recommend James Kottaras without a doubt. Agarciasanz
Jim was a pleasure to work with. He handled both the sale of my condo and the purchase of my house. He is extremely organized and very responsive. I would recommend him to any of my friends or family who need an attorney on the buy or sell side. Jackie Sullivan
I hired James to assist me with a private sale of a condo and he was patient and helpful throughout the much more complicated than I expected negotiations. He was professional, patient, prompt and accessible. Aaron Sheldon