Whether you are finding your dream home or selling property, having an expert in real estate can save you from a lot of headache down the road. Finding an issue with the property or title after the property has been sold can be a frustrating and disappointing experience. Having an attorney seasoned in New York real estate law ensures no part of the closing process is skipped over or done incorrectly.
An offer being made and a sales contract being signed is just the beginning of the closing process. The closing process consists of a checklist of items that must be completed before a specified date. This is where any possible issues with the title can be discovered, as it would be very disappointing to buy a house only to find out the seller never had the right to sell it. It can also be disappointing to finalize a sale only to find out the house had an issue that made it uninhabitable or required extensive repairs. Avoid these problems by having a real estate attorney work with you through these steps of the closing process:
Offer and contract
The first step of the closing process is after the offer is accepted and the sales contract is written. The sales contract includes the checklist that needs to be completed before the deal is officially complete. Typically, the time between the sales contract and the final transfer of title is between 1-2 months. The steps in the process include, but are not limited to, gaining a mortgage, inspection, title searches, appraisals, picking an escrow agent, and transferring funds and documents to this agent. The buyer will often make a deposit to show their commitment to purchasing the property.
Some real estate deals may be done remotely. To ensure the seller that they will receive the agreed-upon down payment, the buyer will place this payment in an escrow account. Once all the sales contract terms are complete, the funds are released from escrow to the seller. Any documents signed in the closing process may also be placed in escrow until the deal is complete.
Title searches are conducted to check if the property has any liens, easements, mortgages, wills, or deeds that may affect the property’s title. This ensures that you have full knowledge of the legal status of the property and that the seller is able to transfer the title to you.
Don’t trust the seller to disclose any issues with the home. You must schedule an inspection of the home to ensure there are no undisclosed issues. Do not just walk through the house and do an inspection yourself, as some issues are not easily spotted by people who do not know what to look for. Hiring an inspector, especially for insects, is necessary when getting ready to purchase a home.
What happens if the property burns down during the closing process? Is the contract void? Insurance can protect a buyer, so they aren’t locked into paying the same price for property that is now destroyed.
Some property could be purchased with cash outright, but if this isn’t the case, the buyer needs to secure financing. In this situation, sales contracts are contingent on the ability of the buyer to secure a mortgage within a period set by the contract. The inability to secure a mortgage within the specified limit results in the sale being void unless extensions are granted.
If you are purchasing a Co-op or Condo in New York, you must obtain board certification. This means additional documents and a commitment letter from your bank before the transaction is approved. It is important to have these additional documents on hand as it can be a lengthy process that risks exceeding the timetable set by the sales contract if these documents aren’t readily available.
At the end of the closing process, the actual title and money are transferred for the property. It is important to attend this meeting with your lawyer to ensure the sale is binding. The seller will sign over the deed of the property, and you will transfer over your down payment and mortgage. Any old mortgage is paid off, and you become the new property owner or receive the final payment for the property you just sold.
Having the right lawyer to guide you through the closing process is essential. This can be a complex process that requires a significant amount of work done in a short period. An expert in New York real estate law will make this process much easier and take on the heaviest workload. If you are closing on property in New York, contact me to ensure the process is as smooth as possible.