We at Engel Law Offices welcome the opportunity to represent you with respect to your real estate closing. Whether you are buying or selling your first property or your fiftieth, we will make sure that this transaction is smooth and seamless. Our attorneys work regularly with local real estate agents, title companies and mortgage companies. We are pleased to offer as a service, to our clients, the closing package for $499 for sale or purchase of residential real estate. To help you with the process we share a FAQ about real estate law.
Residential Real Estate
Should I seek legal advice on the purchase or sale of a home?
You should speak to a real estate attorney before making any offer to purchase. Alternatively, it is customary to have an attorney review a real estate contract within three (3) days of signing. An offer to purchase is a contract and without the benefit of legal review you may unknowingly agree to terms that are not in your best interest. Your real estate attorney at Engel Law Offices knows what needs to be reviewed before you sign documentation. A list of potential points include:
- Name of purchaser, and name of any other party to be placed on the mortgage or deed of the property.
- Is title to the property subject to any limitations such as easements, restrictive covenants, and encumbrances such as mortgages or builder’s liens?
- Has the property been inspected by a qualified home inspector?
- Can you obtain the necessary mortgage financing? (Have you already obtained a pre-approval?)
- What are the property taxes?
- Is there a homeowner’s association which requires annual fees?
What is a mortgage?
When a bank or mortgage company lends you money to buy a home, you are required to sign documents that are registered on the title to your home promising to repay them. In the agreement, you are called the “mortgagor” and the lender is called the “mortgagee”. If you fail to pay your mortgage, your home will be foreclosed upon by the mortgage holder to repay the loan, and, in many cases, personal judgments against you for the difference of what you owed the bank and what they sold your house for. There are many types of mortgages and it is important to know the options you have, and make an informed decision about which mortgage is right for you.
Can the buyer and seller use the same lawyer?
Yes. But they must agree to do so in advance and both must agree that if they have any conflict, both must seek separate legal counsel.
What do I need to sell my property?
Assuming you have already selected a qualified realtor, the most common issue that comes up for sellers is having a current Title Abstract for their home. Typically the attorney, Title company, or Bank used when you purchased your home will have retained the Title Abstract. Less frequently, you would sign a release for the Abstract and the Title company would release the Abstract to you upon the filing of the Deed in the County Clerk’s Office. The abstract needs to be updated for the sale, and this usually costs a couple hundred dollars. If you cannot locate the Title Abstract you will need one “worked up” for your home; this is usually much more expensive and can take longer than simply updating one in place.
Depending upon the County in which you are located a survey of the property may also be required. Often times this will accompany the Title Abstract. This is something that will need to be updated for the sale, or if required and not present, a new one will need to be completed.
Can I put contingencies on an offer to purchase?
Yes, there are many circumstances where you may be interested in making a purchase, but only if certain contingencies are met. For example, you could indicate that you are only willing and able to proceed if one or more of the following are met:
- Sell your existing home first
- Having your lawyer review and approve the terms of offer
- A home inspection finds no unacceptable issues (or that the issues present will be addressed by the seller prior to closing)
– A radon test is completed and acceptable
– A septic test is completed and acceptable
– A water flow rate test is completed and acceptable
- Appropriate and adequate financing is obtained
- A home warranty is offered
- Specific furnishings are included in the purchase
What is a restrictive covenant?
The developer of land has the right to restrict how the owner uses the land, size of house, landscaping, etc.
What is an easement?
This gives an individual or corporation the right or privilege to a limited use of lands that belong to someone else. For example, home owners grant easements that provide a limited right of way to utilities, a necessary step to install utility services such as water lines.
What is an encumbrance?
It is a financial cost that needs to be paid. It may also include other restrictions such as an easement or a covenant.
How are legal fees for real estate legal services calculated?
You will find there is a wide variance in the fees charged by law offices in Upstate New York offering legal advice on real estate transactions. Choosing Engel law Offices means you will receive in writing a complete review of the legal fees our office charges, and may have the option to pay with the proceeds of the sale of your home as to have no extra up-front out of pocket expenses.
Aside from legal fees, what other fees apply when you buy a home?
There is no fixed schedule of fees. For example, it is not mandatory to order a home inspection. However, it is highly recommended and well worth the additional fee.
There are additional fees which your real estate attorney secures vendors for, the main ones being to update or “rework” your Title Abstract, an update of completion of a survey (if required) and Title insurance. Here at Engel Law Offices we discuss these fees with our clients before committing to one specific vendor.
Here are some other fees that may apply, which your real estate attorney does not have control over:
- Appraisal fees for your bank or mortgage company
- Adjustment for taxes, depending on the timing of your purchase
- Fee for homeowner’s insurance
- Origination costs associated with any mortgage being obtained
- Any pre-paid interest or taxes to the bank issuing your mortgage
- Transfer taxes and deed recording fees
Who pays the real estate agent’s commission?
The seller pays the commission for any real estate agent involved in the sale/purchase.
When do I receive the proceeds of a sale?
Proceeds from a Sale are usually issued to the seller the same day as closing. There is always a potential for a delay, which your attorney would advise you of prior to closing.
If I am selling a property, when do I need to meet with my attorney?
It is best to meet with your real estate attorney as soon as you decide to sell your property. This will ensure a smooth transaction and allow your attorney to complete everything in a timely manner.