Q. How long have you been a closing attorney in New York State?
A. Since 1983
Q. How does your extensive experience help your clients?
A. It is important that your attorney has seen how to resolve problems before. It is also important that he has a hands on approach. Is he the one that takes your phone calls? Can you reach this person or is he always in Court? Is everything shifted off to a paralegal?
Q. Why did you decide to become an attorney?
A. To help people, and to be able to support a family while doing that.
Q. Where did you graduate Law School? Did you receive any special honors or awards?
A. Brooklyn Law School. I graduated NYU as an undergraduate Phi Beta Kappa.
Q. How do you view the overall state of real estate today? What real estate trends do you think are most important for your clients to capitalize on?
A. My clients are primarily motivated by need. When a couple has a baby and wants to expand, that is typically when I get a call. When there is a death in the family, and a property is inherited, that is when I get a call. Real Estate has proven to be a steady investment over long periods of time. And you have the additional advantage typically of getting to live in the property.
Q. What impact have historically low interest rates had on Baron and Shelkin's real estate business?
A. When interest rates are low, there is generally more interest in buying homes, but the flucuations are not great.
Q. How can someone estimate closing costs on a house in advance?
A. The bank is required to give you a good faith estimate of your closing costs in a typical case where you are the purchaser.
Q. Why should someone hire a real estate closing attorney?
A. A typical real estate contract is many pages in length and is complicated. It is not written in plain language. Real estate attorneys have relationships with banks and title people, and speak their own language. We know what to expect. A person having a heart attack might take an aspirin and have it go away, but I suspect he would get a better chance of a better result by consulting a cardiologist.
Q. How many real estate closings have you done over the years?
A. Over 1000.
Q. Can you help clients understand the confusion and legalese typical in contracts for real estate?
A. Yes. We go over every contract with the client paragraph by paragraph.
Q. Do you give your clients a breakdown or estimate of real estate closing costs in advance?
Q. What specifically is a title search, and how is it performed?
A. An insurance company is hired usually by the purchaser to determine whether the person claiming to be able to sell you the house can legally do so. In addition, information is obtained about the property itself such as whether the current use of the property is consistent with the survey, and whether there are appropriate certificates of occupancy.
Q. What is real estate litigation, and how typical is it in real estate cases?
A. Lawsuits happen but they are not typical.
Q. Should a home buyer contact you (a real estate attorney) before or after signing a "contract to buy a house"?
Q. The contract of sale is an integral part of a real estate transaction. What specifically do you do to ensure clients they are getting the best deal possible?
A. We go over the contract line by line to make sure they understand what they are getting. When not happy, we negotiate with the seller.
Q. What should customers look out for before putting down a binder, or signing the contract on a house?
A. There is a big difference. The binder is typically a small amount of money tendered to a broker prior to seeing the lawyer. Contracts should not be signed before seeing a lawyer.
Q. Do you work on a flat fee basis, or hourly basis for real estate closings? How much do you charge for a typical house closing?
A. This is hard to answer, because I would not charge the same fee to do a refinance in Long Island, as I would for a closing on a large apartment house upstate. However, we generally charge a flat fee.
Q. What would you say Baron and Shelkin does better or different than competing law firms?
A. First, when you call my office, you are getting me—not a secretary or paralegal to handle your closing. We do however use paralegals to speak Spanish, French or Mandarin in many cases. We are not novices—we handle many closings, and I have handled them for many years. We close not only in Manhattan but all over New York State including Long Island and Westchester. Finally, as I frequently tell my clients, it is the type of law I most enjoy.
Q. What is the most important first step a home buyer or seller can take to avoid costly mistakes?
A. If dealing with a broker, make the binder subject to your attorney’s approval. And always get an engineer’s inspection prior to purchasing a home.
Q. How do you help clients save money and avoid risk throughout the process?
A. Much of this is anticipating problems, and dealing with them at the time of the contract signing. Are all of the certiciates of occupancy and completion in order? What is the condition of the appliances? What is the seller trying to leave out of or put in to the contract?
Q. What do you, Scott Shelkin specifically bring to the table for your clients?
A. Thirty years of experience and a hands on approach.
Q. What can Baron and Shelkin do to change the negative opinions many people have about attorneys?
A. We are ethical and trustworthy, and always try to do the best job we can for our clients on every individual case.
Q. If Baron and Shelkin were a human being, what personality traits would best describe your firm?
A. Scrupulously honest, reliable, and knowlegable.
Q. Building a law practice is all about one on one relationships. What makes the client-attorney experience both personal and special at Baron
A. The personal touch—not dealing extensively with third parties.
Q. What do you consider the primary job of a closing attorney?
A. Closing the deal. However, occasionally, it may be getting out of the deal.
Q. Buying or selling a home can be complicated, stressful and drawn out process. What do you do to make it as easier, less stressful, and faster for your clients?
A. The more knowlegable the client is about the process, generally, the less stressful it will be.
Q. Do you ever negotiate home prices and contractual issues on behalf of your clients?
A. That would depend upon the case. Most of the negotiation is done before a case gets to me. However, there are situations such as house condition which may warrant a change in price.
Q. Why should someone who has never met you put the firm of Baron and Shelkin on their short list of law firms to consider?
A. Not every law firm concentrates on residential real estate closings. We do.
Q. What proof can you offer potential clients that you have done the job successfully for other clients in the past?
A. I have been doing real estate work for many years, have handled over a thousand closings, and have many satisfied customers—including my own partner.
Q. What percentage of past and existing clients do you think are satisfied with the real estate services of Baron and Shelkin?
A. The overwhelming majority.
Q. In a word, why should someone hire you to represent them in a real estate transaction?
Q. Besides helping your clients buy and sell real estate, what other types of real estate transactions do you typically handle at Baron and Shelkin?
A. We are also available to handle Landlord/Tenant matters.
Q. Buying a home is often the biggest financial transaction people will make in their lifetime. How do you help clients manage the financial risk?
A. We examine the proposed mortgage amounts, interest rates, and bank charges and discuss these with our clients.
Q. What are you doing now to help serve the ever-expanding online audience?
A. Creating an ever expanding website and online presence. We are always developing valuable legal informational content for our online following.
Q. What practical advice do you give the first time home buyer when they call or meet with you for the first time? What is the first thing you encourage them to do?
A. Make sure you are satisfied with the neighborhood, and your realtor if you have one. Discuss the potential financing with a banker, and have a good idea what you can afford.