Real Estate Law, Real Estate Tax Assessments


We provide experienced counsel for residential and commercial transfers, real estate sale contracts, closing of real estate transactions, issues regarding financing, evictions and disputes between landlords and tenants, leases between Lessors and Lessees, and other real estate litigation.  If you have any concerns, issues or disputes regarding real estate, we provide an initial free consultation.  Our firm’s representation includes simple to very complex transactions matters, as well as real estate and business litigation.  Recognized as a trusted and compassionate law firm with our clients, and passionate about our cases, we have received the highest possible rating in the respected Martindale-Hubbell law directory (a designation based primarily on ratings by its peers).  We have an “AV” rating.

Real Estate Sale Contract

We have been representing clients for years in regard to getting out of real estate sale contracts, enforcing real estate sale contracts, modifying or amending real estate sale contracts, and matters related thereto.  We also prepare real estate sale contracts and related documents for individuals buying or selling properties on their own.  We also prepare contract for deed instruments, depending on the circumstances of the client.

Construction Lawsuits

We are experienced litigators in regard to construction lawsuits.  Areas of our practice include breach of contract, misrepresentation, fraud, and resulting damages.

Boundary Disputes

We have represented clients for years in regard to boundary disputes, including relating to easements, property rights of adjacent owners, issues involving title to property and related matters.

Title Issues

 We often have clients that hire us to take care of title issues relating to real estate.  This can include because there are concerns regarding chain of title, factors involving estate administration, improper or fraudulent transfers of real estate and matters related thereto.

Construction Lawsuits

We have experience representing parties in construction lawsuits, both Plaintiff and Defendants.  We have represented individual owners and first time buyers.  We have also represented developers and contractors, and subcontractors.

Foreclosure Defense

Because of the economy, and the practices of certain lenders, we have experience in the area of foreclosure defense, including representing individuals and businesses.  This type of work can involve requesting the intervention of the Court, filing pleadings with the Court, and seeking Orders of Protection or other rulings from the Court, depending upon the facts and circumstances of the case.

Ownership Issues

We have been involved in ownership issues regarding real estate, including relating to ejectment, suits to quiet title, adverse possession, prescriptive easements and other matters.  Sometimes this involves going to court when it is in the best interests of the clients.

Mine Subsidence

We have represented clients over the years in regard to issues involving mine subsidence, including because this area of the country was substantially mined years ago and issues and problems are surfacing, and will continue to surface, now and in the future.

Subdivision Organization

We have represented homeowners’ groups and subdivision organizations over the years.  Sometimes disputes involve the developer, promises that were made and then not kept and disputes between board members and individual lot owners, or disputes between members.

Lender Liability Issues

We have represented many clients over the years in regard to their complaints concerning lender liability issues, including with respect to financial institutions, mortgage companies, and for sale by owner transactions.  Many of these cases have involved working out settlements based on non-disclosure or a lender changing the terms and conditions of a loan, shortly prior to or at the time of closing or charging extraordinary fees and commissions.

Defending Foreclosure Actions

We have represented clients throughout the St. Louis Metropolitan area in regard to defending foreclosure actions.  Many of these cases have involved lenders who have initiated foreclosure proceedings, even though there were minor violations of the note and mortgage, or sometimes no violations.  For example, sometimes a borrower will make a payment on time, or the escrow has instructions to make distributions on time,  but the financial institution does not receive or credit the payment until after the due date, thereby triggering a wrongful default.  In many cases, resolutions have been reached by allowing defaults to be cured, refinancing loans, etc.

Faulty Construction Cases

We have represented clients over the years in regard to improper workmanship or faulty construction cases.  Sometimes these cases are based on breach of contract, misrepresentation and/or consumer fraud.  In many instances, we have been able to work out resolutions without having to file lawsuits.  In the event lawsuits are filed, successful dispositions have been obtained through trial, mediation or settlement.

Termite Cases

Termite cases can be a major headache for a homeowner.  In many instances, the homeowner claims that there was a failure to disclose by the seller at the time the residence was purchased.  Conversely, sometimes the sellers claim they did not know there was a termite problem or else they thought any termite problem they had had been taken care of, including by treatment.

For Sale By Owner

We usually have a modest set fee arrangement with the client, which covers everything from inception of the case through closing, such as negotiating a real estate sale contract, proper disclosure statements, including any lead-based or other issues, working with the title company to address any title issues, preparation of deeds and other documentation, and representation of the client at the actual closing.

Adverse Possession Cases

We have represented clients over the years in regard to adverse possession cases.  Sometimes we have represented Plaintiffs and sometimes we have represented Defendants.  These cases have usually occurred in various counties in the Southern Illinois area.  In many situations, we are able to reach resolutions that avoid the necessity of a trial.  However, in those cases where settlements are not worked out, we have tried cases through conclusion.

Real Estate Title Issues

Real estate title issues encompass a broad spectrum.  In some situations, a person may wish to delete another from being an owner in title.  In other cases, probate or estate administration may not have been commenced or completed and the occupier of property needs to have issues addressed so that they can obtain clear title.  In many instances, these types of matters can be worked out between the parties.  If recommended, we work with title companies to ensure proper steps are taken so that the owner in possession has clear title.

Real Estate Taxes

We have represented clients for decades in regard to real estate tax issues.  In some situations, cases have been handled locally.  In others, we have been involved with the State of Illinois Property Tax Appeals Board.  Our work in this area has included commercial, industrial, agricultural and residential assessment reduction cases.

Partition Lawsuits

Clients have contacted us for representation in regard to partition lawsuits.  In those instances where property interests need to be divided, or there are disputes or controversies among common owners, if settlements cannot be reached, we represent parties in Court, including working with appraisers in regard to any litigation.

Failure to Disclose

Failure to disclose in regard to real estate transactions is a fairly common claim.  If the seller discloses too much, the seller may be concerned about scaring off the buyer.  If the seller does not disclose enough, the buyer may claim failure to disclose once the buyer becomes aware of problems, conditions or defects, which the buyer was not aware of at the time of closing.  Many of these matters also involve realtors, since sometimes the seller will indicate disclosures made to realtors and sometimes the buyer will indicate that the realtors had knowledge, but failed to disclose to the buyer.

Real Estate Investments

We have been contacted over the years by various clients for consultation, analysis and recommendations regarding investments in real estate, whether it be commercial, industrial, residential or agricultural.  We have experience and expertise in this area and network with others in regard to due diligence and properly representing the client’s interests in these types of matters.  For example, we regularly interact with lenders, financial planners, realtors, appraisers, accountants and other attorneys.

89 year-old blind widow almost loses farm worth more than $150,000 because she did not pay a real estate tax bill for $38.08

We were contacted by the only child of a 89 year-old blind widow who claimed she did not receive a tax bill for $38.08 in regard to the family farm.  This family had always paid all of the bills promptly and there was no reason not to believe the client, or her son.  By the time we were hired, the tax buyer had already been to Court, had paid back taxes for the requisite years, and had already secured orders from the Court for the issuance of a tax deed and to take possession of the property.  The income from the tenant farmer was used to meet the living expenses of our client.  We immediately obtained a copy of the file from the St. Clair County Circuit Clerk and invested what occurred.  As it turned out, the tax buyer did not give actual notice to our client and did not serve our client with actual notice.  Furthermore, the tax buyer erroneously gave notice by certified mail to another party in New Jersey.  Our investigation included contacting the party in New Jersey.  We found that the party in New Jersey had lived his entire life on the east coast and did not know why he was receiving notices in regard to real estate in Illinois since he never owned any real estate in Illinois.  We filed a Petition for Relief from Judgment or Other Final Orders Under Section 2-1401 of the Code of Civil Procedure and Motion to Set Aside All Orders Entered to Date, Including Orders Entered August 27, 2007 and Motion to Set Aside Any Tax Deed Issued.  We consulted with experts and other persons experienced in the field of tax sales.  This case was widely reported in the newspapers and we were contacted by regional television stations for a story.  Within a period of only several months, we were able to secure a resolution whereby our client was restored all rights, title and interest to the family farm.  Although the exact terms of the settlement were not made of record in the Court file, and we were advised that our client was very happy with the result, and that she again could sleep at night.  If the above had not occurred, the tax buyer would have realized a windfall profit more than $150,000 on an initial investment of $38.08.

Title Insurance

Title insurance is not like casualty insurance, such as automobile, fire or health insurance.  The probability of a future event has nothing to do with title insurance.  With title insurance, risk ends with the effective date of the policy.  A title insurance policy is based on a review of public records in order to identify defects that may adversely impact ownership of the property.

Marketable Title

Eliminating defects results in the title being in a marketable condition.  Marketable title identifies the condition of the title for legal purposes.

Title Examination

A title examination involves identifying who presently owns the property, researching Court records and other documents to determine liens that may create a monetary interest in the real estate and depending on the circumstances, reviewing any survey taking into consideration issues such as easements, building lines, property lines or other matters.

The Element of Risk

Investigation to determine any risk and strategies concerning any risk are services provided by title companies within the scope of their approving marketable title.

Insurable Interest

The title insurance policy holder does not need to own property or even have possession to have an insurable interest.  For example, a mortgage policy is a policy that insures less than fee interest to a non-owner of real estate.  The owner has no interest in the loan policy.  A leasehold policy is beneficial to tenants, where in the insured is protected against the right of possession for the term of the lease.

Title Comminment and Policy

Two (2) types of title insurance are the Owner’s Policy and the Lender’s Policy.  The Title Policy is preceded by the Title Commitment, which identifies the condition of the title as of the date of search.  The Title Commitment is a binding contract for the title company to issue a policy so long as conditions and requirements have been met.  The Title Commitment, also known as the Title Binder, is important in regard to what the final Title Policy insures.


We often receive referrals from other attorneys who may not practice, at least to the extent we do, in regard to certain areas of the law, including real estate matters.  As a result, this has increased our volume of cases and expertise in this area of the law over the years.

“AV” Rating

Blake Law Group, P.C. has received an “AV” rating from Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, the most trusted and respected service for rating attorneys in the United States.  The “AV” rating is the highest possible rating for legal abilities and reputation by other lawyers.

We have been involved in various legal matters in numerous counties throughout Illinois, including Bond County, Clay County, Clinton County, Effingham County, Fayette County, Franklin County, Green County, Hamilton County, Jackson County, Jefferson County, Jersey County, Johnson County, Macoupin County, Madison County, Marion County, Monroe County, Perry County, Randolph County, St. Clair County, Salem County, Union County, Washington County, Wayne County, White County, Williamson County, Edwards County and including cities such as Belleville, Edwardsville, Collinsville, Alton, Carlyle, Greenville, Vandalia, Bloomington, Springfield, Vienna, Pinckneyville, Nashville, Jerseyville, Carrollton, McLeansboro, Carmi, Marion and Carbondale.