Why Should I Hire a Real Estate Attorney When Buying or Selling a Home?

An experienced real estate attorney will guide and protect you through the entire real estate transaction. This includes negotiating the purchase/sale contract in order to obtain favorable terms on your behalf (i.e., contingency clauses, walk away rights, mortgage provisions…etc.). Be mindful that the entire transaction stems from the contract so it must be well written, strongly negotiated and protective of your interest.

What are the basic steps in the home closing process?

Seller accepts buyer’s offer on the property.
Contract is negotiated and signed.
Purchaser works to obtaining mortgage commitment, if applicable.
Seller clears any and all title issues.
Walkthrough of the property
Closing

Where does the closing take place?

If the purchaser is getting a mortgage to buy the property, closing is usually at the lender’s attorney’s office. Otherwise, closing is customarily at the Seller’s attorney’s office.

How long does the process take?

Real Estate transactions can move at the speed the Buyer/Seller are comfortable with. That being said, you generally see an ‘all cash’ transaction (one that does not require a mortgage) in the 30 day range from Contract to Closing. If the purchaser is obtaining a mortgage, the 60 day range is realistic.

Can I transfer real estate into a Trust for asset protection or to avoid probate?

Yes, you can transfer real property into a Trust, and often transferring real property into a Trust is a popular estate planning technique. However, it is important to consult an experienced elder law / estate planning attorney to discuss the pros and cons to consider before transferring.
Property in a Trust can also be sold and/or new property purchased into a Trust, by the same basic steps described above.

What is an Estate Sale?

An Estate Sale is the sale of a property where the owner of the house previously passed away. There can be many advantages for a purchaser purchasing from an estate sale, however, it also requires the permission of a Court (called the Surrogates Court). If someone has passed away owning property, an attorney with both experience in Trust and Estates and Real Estate will be beneficial to the transaction.

What is title insurance and/or a title report?

Title insurance is an insurance policy purchased at the time of buying a home to protect against issues of ‘who owns’ the property being purchased. The title report is a documents that reports the chain of title of ownership, judgments, liens, bankruptcies, open mortgage, encroachments and other items which can affect ownership.

What are common types of real estate to purchase in New York?

The most common real estate purchases in New York are residential homes, condominiums and cooperative apartments (cooperative apartments are not technically real property).

What are some of the major difference between a condominium and cooperative apartment?

A condo, like buying a house, is considered “real property”. Simply put, this means an owner obtains a deed and the accompanying real estate taxes. However, unlike a house, a condo is only a piece of the overall real estate tenure.

A co-op on the other hand is not considered real property, instead a co-op owner buys shares, pro-rata based on size, of a corporation which owns the building or housing tenure.

What can a Seller do to make the sale process easier?

First, hire a real estate attorney immediately upon placing your home on the market. This way, as soon as the Seller has an accepted offer, that attorney can send out the contracts immediately to lock the buyer in. Remember, the accepted offer is not binding until the parties have executed a contract.
Also, if a seller is living in the home being sold, start packing early. Packing and moving always takes longer than expected and has the potential to delay a closing

What can a Buyer to do make the purchase process easier?

A buyer can help move the closing process by being organized with their financials. This is especially true in the case of obtaining a mortgage. The more organized financials are presented to a lender, the easier it is for the lender to review and approve the buyer to close.