Important Changes to the City of Chicago Transfer Stamp Purchases & Penalties

Effective January 1, 2016, all City of Chicago transfer stamp purchases will be handled within MyDec, the online stamp purchasing website, established by the State of Illinois.

Paper forms will no longer be accepted by the City of Chicago. State of Illinois & County transfer tax forms are not affected by this change.

As of January 1, MyDec will automatically assess applicable interest and late penalty charges on the declaration at the time Chicago transfer stamps are purchased when payment for the stamps is made more than 7 days after the date of the transfer in question. Apparently, MyDec is now programmed to compare the date entered in Section 4, question 1“The earlier of the Date of Transfer or Date of Recording” field to the date stamps are purchased and, if the difference is greater than 7 days, charge interest and late penalty accordingly. Inquiries regarding this process or requests for penalty abatement for reasonable cause should be directed to taxpolicy@cityofchicago.org.

The other requirements for purchasing a Chicago transfer stamp do not appear to have been changed. All transfers as defined under the City Ordinance will still require a Full Payment Certificate (“FPC”) to be issued by the Chicago Water Department. Applications for an FPC will take a minimum of 10 business days for processing, and an FPC is good for 60 days for the authorization date listed on the processed FPC.

One of the following will be required to ensure a complete application:

  1. A copy of the Deed for the intended transaction (must be submitted if requesting an FPC for a tax exempt transaction)
  2. Title Commitment Schedule A
  3. Signed Sales Contract

Click here to access the FPC Applications.

Please keep this information in mind when you are preparing to close your next transaction for property in Chicago. If there will be any delay in the purchase of the transfer stamp the penalty and interest may be charged and should be considered at the time the stamp is ready for purchase. If the delay is a result of an issue with receipt of an FPC please contact one of Chicago Title’s Underwriters.

We strongly encourage you to contact our office with any questions or concerns. We will be happy to share with you any knowledge we have about the aforementioned penalty and interest scenario as well as discuss potential solutions to avoid the possible imposition of such penalties and interest.

Here you can find the full version of the Code referred to in this CT News Brief.

#CTtalk: Construction Issues at Closing

By Jeffrey P. York
Assistant Regional Counsel
Chicago Title Insurance Company, Chicago NCS

One of the more complex and confusing issues that can rear its ugly head at a real estate closing is that of the existence of past, present, or, in some cases, future contracts for construction on the land. These contracts can create headaches for owners, purchasers, lenders, attorneys, and title insurers if the issues surrounding these contracts are not dealt with prior to closing. This article will identify construction issues that arise at closing and discuss how Chicago Title Insurance Company deals with these issues. The scope of this discussion will be limited to acquisition and refinance transactions rather than construction loan closings.

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#CTtalk: IL Real Estate Liens

Illinois Real Estate Liens & Encumbrances

By Richard F. Bales
Office Counsel
Chicago Title Insurance Company

Illinois real estate liens and other documents in the nature of encumbrances are, for the most part, scattered throughout the Illinois Compiled Statutes. Their statutes of limitation are as varied as their citations.  This article is an attempt to list, briefly describe, and, when applicable, note the statutes of limitation for these documents.

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#CTtalk: Bond in Lieu of Property

Bond in Lieu of Property - Something New in Mechanics Lien Law

By Douglas M. Karlen
Vice President and Regional Counsel
Chicago Title Insurance Company

Recent legislation creates a new concept in mechanics lien law, namely, a bond in lieu of property. Public Act 99-178 (HB 2635), effective January 1, 2016, adds new Section 38.1 to the Mechanics Lien Act to permit the substitution of a surety bond in lieu of real property in the context of the enforcement or possible enforcement of mechanics lien claims. See new 770 ILCS 60/38.1. By shifting the focus of mechanics lien litigation from the subject real property to the proceeds of a surety bond, the new Section allows owners to refinance construction loans or to sell newly constructed condominium units, single family homes, and commercial developments free and clear of mechanics lien claims.  

How does it work?

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#CTtalk: Illinois Statutes

Illinois Statutes (and a Few Court Cases) Relating to the Subdivision of Land

By Richard F. Bales
Office Counsel
Chicago Title Insurance Company

Compiled List:

Building Lines

55 ILCS 5/5-13001; a county can regulate building lines

65 ILCS 5/11-14-1; a municipality can regulate building lines; this statute states that “the corporate authorities in each municipality have power by ordinance to establish, regulate and limit the building or setback lines on or along any street. . . .[These powers] shall not be exercised so as to deprive the owner of any existing property of its use or maintenance for the purpose to which it is then lawfully devoted.”  This statute seems to suggest that in order to abrogate a building line, the parties benefited as well as burdened must join in the agreement.   A building line violation may render a home unmarketable, even if a title company agrees to endorse over it; in this regard, see Nelson v. Anderson, 286 Ill.App.3d 706, 676 N.E.2d 735, 221 Ill.Dec. 932 (5th Dist. 1997).

Plat Act (court cases)

In Heerey v. City of Des Plaines, 225 Ill.App.3d 203 (1992), the court held that a plaintiff who was merely seeking to remodel his building, and not subdivide it or sell it, did not have to first have the property subdivided.  In other words, the court determined that the Plat Act was not applicable.

In Orrin Dressler, Inc. v. Village of Burr Ridge, 173 Ill.App.3d 454 (1988), the owner of the land felt that the proposed subdivision of his land was exempt from the Plat Act, as it was a “division into no more than two parts of a particular parcel or tract of land existing on July 17, 1959. . . .” The plaintiff felt that the transaction was exempt, since the original parcel was divided into two parts, but then the lot line between two of the resulting parts was merely "relocated."  The court disagreed.

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#CTtalk: UCC Policy

Understanding the UCCPlus Insurance Policy

An interview with Gary Zimmerman
Senior Vice President and Chief Underwriting Counsel
of Fidelity National Title Group's UCCPlus Division

What is a UCCPlus Insurance Policy?

A UCCPlus Insurance Policy (UCCPlus Policy) is a title insurance product that insures most personal property taken as collateral for a loan.  Similar to a lender's real estate title insurance policy that insures a mortgage or deed of trust is a fist priority lien on real property, a lender's UCCPlus Policy insures that the personal property pledge to the lender as collateral for a loan is a first priority lien.  The UCCPlus Policy shifts all of the risk from the insured lender to the title company by insuring proper validity, enforceability, attachment, perfection and priority relating to the lender's security interest or lien on the personal property.  Secured lenders value this as a risk management toll that decreases their operational risk by shifting the documentation, perfection and fraud risk to the title company.  Leading commercial law firms and lending institutions recognize the use of a UCCPlus Policy as a best practice.

Are there other ways that a UCCPlus Policy shifts risk?

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#CTtalk: Coinsurance/Reinsurance

Coinsurance/Reinsurance: A Different Means to a Similar End

By Gerald J. Castro
Vice President and National Commercial Counsel
Chicago Title Insurance Company, Chicago NCS office

Chicago Title Insurance Company is a leader within the title insurance industry, with revenues in excess of most of its competitors. But even the strongest title insurer has limits as to the amount that it can pay out on a single claim. Each title company's ability to pay claims is limited by its financial strength. In addition, however, each title company faces limits on the amount of liability it may assume under any policy or set of policies. These limits may be set by state law, customer request or internal controls. Notwithstanding these limits, the title insurance industry has developed a system that affords individual companies the ability to insure properties that have values in excess of limits, including those with values running into the hundreds of millions of dollars. As the amounts needed to acquire or invest in real estate continue to swell, so do the demands for increasing amounts of title insurance. To balance the difficulty of accommodating our customers while not overstepping our ability to react to potential claims, we enter into coinsurance or reinsurance agreements with other title insurers. These agreements enable one company to spread the risk of loss on large-liability policies to other companies. This article will define and explain coinsurance and reinsurance arrangements, increasingly significant aspects of the title insurance industry.

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#CTtalk: The Case for Interpleader

The Case for Interpleader

By Douglas M. Karlen
Vice President and Regional Counsel
Chicago Title Insurance Company

When parties to an escrow agreement dispute the disposition of escrow deposits, the escrowee’s interpleader action may be the best means of resolving the impasse.  A recent interpleader case, for example, shows how sloppy drafting can lead to problems that require a court to clean up an escrow mess.  See Wiczer v. Wojciak, 2015 IL App. (1st) 123753.

BACKGROUND
Details, LLC owned a car wash business and the real estate upon which the business operated. The business experienced financial difficulties. At the time in question, Details owed $2.15 million on its mortgage. Wojciak was interested in purchasing the business and real estate. The parties agreed on a purchase price of $2.15 million, but Wojciak was willing to pay only $1.75 million. Four individual members of Details, LLC agreed to put up $400,000 as earnest money to cover the difference.

With some degree of understatement, the appellate court says, “Although this circumstance was unusual in that the sellers, as opposed to the buyer, were making an earnest money deposit, Wojciak wanted to ensure that the sale closed.”

An escrow agreement was prepared before an asset purchase agreement. The escrow agreement identified seller as Details, LLC and buyer as “Details Acquisition, LLC, an Illinois limited liability company in formation.” The escrow agreement appointed Wiczer, Wojciak’s attorney, as “temporary escrowee” and Ticor as the escrowee. Notwithstanding the identification of parties, the only signatories to the escrow agreement were the four individual members of Details, LLC, who had agreed to put up the $400,000. Neither Details, LLC, as seller, nor Wojciak as buyer, nor Ticor as escrowee signed the escrow agreement. Details Acquisition, LLC, the buyer, was never formed. The four individual members of seller forwarded the $400,000 to Wiczer, who deposited the funds in his IOLTA account. Wiczer never sent the money to Ticor.

The escrow agreement required deposit of earnest money by the seller and return of the earnest money to buyer, instead of seller, if the transaction did not close.

Wiczer testified that Wojciak wanted the earnest money if the transaction did not close because he was “concerned from the start that the car wash purchase was problematic and he wanted protection to at least cover his expenses.” Counsel for the four individual members testified that they agreed to deposit the $400,000 in escrow “because they owed their bank $400,000 more than Wojciak was willing to pay for the business and they wanted to mitigate their losses and sell the business and the real estate.”

Later, an asset purchase agreement provided that earnest money was to be deposited by buyer in accordance with an escrow agreement to be executed by the parties and simultaneously delivered and attached to the asset purchase agreement. Earnest money, under the asset purchase agreement, was to be returned to buyer if the transaction did not close. The escrow agreement was never attached. The asset purchase agreement was signed by Details, LLC, as seller by its manager, and by Details Acquisition, LLC “to be formed,” as buyer by Wojciak.

In October of 2009, Wojciak served notice that he was terminating the purchase, as permitted by provisions of the asset purchase agreement. There was no allegation of breach of contract. In quick succession, the four individual members of Details, LLC made demand on Wiczer for the return of the $400,000 deposit; Wojciak made demand on Wiczer for delivery to him (Wojciak) of the $400,000; and Wiczer claimed $98,250 from the deposits as Wojciak’s expenses.

Wiczer filed an interpleader action, seeking guidance from the court for the proper disposition of the funds held by Wiczer. The four individual members and Wojciak all filed cross-complaints, each seeking recovery of the deposits. After a trial, the trial court found in favor of the four individual members and ordered Wiczer to return the deposits to them. The appellate court affirmed.

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