Buying a Home in New York
by Scott P. Shelkin, Real Estate Attorney
Purchasing a home in New York is often the largest financial decision a couple makes in their lifetime. It is important to obtain the services of a real estate attorney as soon as a buyer’s offer has been accepted by a seller.
Typically the initial step is selecting an appropriate neighborhood. Is it a good school district? Are the real estate taxes affordable? Is local crime relatively low? Do houses in the area have a history of appreciating in value? These are the types of questions it is helpful to have answered before even retaining a real estate broker.
Real estate brokers vary in quality. Many work very hard to show you a variety of homes within your price range. Have an understanding of how much you can afford, and the types of homes you prefer before going to retain a broker. Many times it is best to retain a broker in the neighborhood where you are looking to buy. If you find a home and are asked to sign a binder, write on the binder that the sale is subject to your attorney’s review.
Once you have found a house you are interested in, have a home inspection or engineer take a careful look at the premises. It is usually best to have an engineer independent of your broker. Around the time you retain the engineer, it is also a good time to obtain the services of a real estate attorney.
A good real estate attorney will review the engineer’s report, brokerage commission and real estate terms. At Baron & Shelkin, we have reviewed hundreds of these documents. Be wary of homes which have plumbing or electrical problems at the start. Problems with roofs and foundations can be among the most difficult ones to resolve; as well as the most expensive.
Once a client has selected a home for purchase, at Baron & Shelkin we immediately contact the attorney for the seller. Typically, it is the seller’s attorney’s job to draft a contract of sale. It is the job of the buyer’s attorney to explain the terms of the contract to the buyer, and add provisions which may not be found in a standard contract. Typical subjects for negotiation are credits for flaws found during the engineer’s report, obtaining a termite report for the home, timing of the closing and condition of the property. Questions may also arise regarding additions to the home such as decks or swimming pools.
The attorneys at Baron & Shelkin have many years of experience negotiating contracts and have handled hundreds of real estate closings. Scott Shelkin alone has over thirty years of experience in the area. Many law firms hand the file over to a paralegal to do all of the work. At Baron & Shelkin, you can be assured you are working with a skilled attorney who has handled many previous closings.
After a downpayment is paid, and a contract signed, the buyer’s attorney, like a quarterback works with a team of people. A title company is contacted to prepare a report showing any defects in the chain of title. A bank attorney is contacted to ensure all financing requirements are met. Paralegals may be called upon to assist clients who speak Spanish, French or Chinese. Everything is geared towards moving a file towards closing.
It is during this intermediate period that problems may arise. Houses which do not appraise satisfactorily may require a price adjustment. Outstanding judgments and liens may need to be satisfied. Certificates of occupancy may need to be obtained.
At closing, it is the attorney’s job to review bank and title documents with the buyer. In addition, the attorney must assure that any questions regarding property condition have been satisfactorily resolved. Where money can be saved for the client, that is part of the attorney’s job as well.
At Baron & Shelkin, we make it a point to prepare a closing summary after each closing so you know exactly where your money has gone. In the past, we have been advised by clients that these documents have been useful in determining future tax deductions and obligations.
When it’s time to buy a home in New York, and you need a real estate attorney to handle the process, consider Baron and Shelkin. With many years of real estate experience behind us, we will work diligently to help get you into the home of your dreams.