A regular reader writes…

Regular reader and commenter Mike Wasserman (www.wasserlaw.net) read my post on Monday and commented:

I definitely feel your pain all the way around on this post. sadly, there is probably a 120 way tie for “worst mortgage broker in the world” and that is a problem for all of us. we used to keep a list in the office, but it got too long. we work VERY hard now to make sure that our clients understand that chasing the last 1/4 point discount on a mortgage loan by directing business to unreliable lenders is a very risky proposition. when properly counseled, most (but sadly not all) rethink their positions.

Ordering zoning certs the week of closing? really? they are good for 12 months anyway. why would anyone leave that sort of thing to the last minute? we get ’em early on in the process to avoid these very sorts of problems. again, just not worth it.

If only it were that easy…

When the City of Chicago started the Zoning Certification program, the City allowed offices to stop by City Hall and grab a box full of the forms required to request your certificate of zoning.

And you were allowed to mail in your form with the required fees.

So it was customary for an agent such as myself to request a certificate of zoning at the time I took a listing.  But the City – in its infinite wisdom – has enacted every bureaucratic hurdle possible to ensure that the process is more difficult now.  Oh, and costs more.

But in the subsequent years, the City has totally screwed up the process by:

  1. Raising the fee to $75 from $50.
  2. Making the form a 5 part carbon form and requiring all 5 carbons be submitted.  Photocopies are not permitted anymore.
  3. Not allowing offices to come and grab stacks of the forms.
  4. Not accepting applications via US Mail.  In person only.

So now it’s not possible for agents to take care of this seemingly minor paperwork, and we often depend on our attorneys to send a messenger to City Hall to fetch the certificate of zoning.

This means that the certificates won’t be ordered until a property goes under contract.  And worse, since lots of attorneys work on a “Just in time” basis, Zoning Certs aren’t ordered until the week of – and sometimes the day of – closing.

One of my clients had a suburban real estate attorney who didn’t know a zoning certificate was required, and had to physically go to City Hall during the closing to get the zoning cert.  Always a barrel of fun when sitting in a Title Company.