Frequently Asked Questions

Is an attorney required at closing in New York?

It is highly recommended to have legal representation, such as The Law Offices of Aaron I. Katsman, to ensure that your interests are protected and that the transaction proceeds smoothly. Real estate transactions can involve complex legal documents and negotiations, and we can provide valuable guidance throughout the process.

What exactly does a real estate attorney do?

A real estate attorney’s top priority is to accurately incorporate the agreed-upon terms of an deal into the sales contract, as any verbal agreements not documented within the contract hold no legal weight. It is of utmost importance that an attorney thoroughly reviews all aspects of the transaction to ensure that there are no defects that could potentially impact the property.

Can a buyer and seller use the same attorney in New York?

It is generally not advisable for both the buyer and the seller to use the same attorney in a real estate transaction. This is because an attorney owes a duty of loyalty and confidentiality to their client, and it can create a conflict of interest if they represent both parties. This ensures that each party’s rights and obligations are adequately addressed.

What does an escrow company do?

An escrow company, also known as an escrow agent or escrow holder, is a neutral third party that facilitates various types of transactions by holding funds, documents, or assets on behalf of the parties involved. The primary role of an escrow company is to ensure a secure and transparent transaction process. In financial transactions, such as real estate purchases, the escrow company holds the buyer’s funds in a designated escrow account until all the conditions of the transaction are met. This ensures that the seller receives payment only when all agreed-upon terms are fulfilled.

What is a deed?

A deed is a legal document that serves as proof of ownership for real property, such as land or a building. Essentially, it is a written agreement between two parties that transfers ownership of the property from one person to another. The person who transfers the property is known as the grantor, while the person who receives it is called the grantee.

When a real estate dispute arises, is litigation the only option?

Real estate disputes can be complicated and frustrating for any party involved. Whether it’s a breach of contract, boundary dispute, or disagreement over property ownership, it’s important to know your legal options when trying to resolve the issue. In many cases, litigation may seem like the only option available. However, there are other alternatives that can save time and money while also achieving a favorable outcome.

One alternative to litigation is mediation. Mediation involves a neutral third party who helps facilitate discussions between the parties in an attempt to reach a mutually acceptable resolution. This process is often less formal than litigation and allows for more open communication between the parties. Additionally, mediation can be quicker and less expensive than going through the court system.

Another option is arbitration, which is similar to mediation but involves an arbitrator who acts as a judge in making decisions on behalf of both parties.

Are there any circumstances under which a buyer or seller can get out of a contract once it’s been signed?

Entering into a contract is a serious matter that should not be undertaken lightly. Once both parties have signed the agreement, they are legally obligated to fulfill their respective obligations. However, there may be situations where one party wishes to back out of the deal. Unfortunately, this is not always possible without incurring significant consequences.

If either the buyer or seller wants to get out of a contract after it has been signed, they must first review the terms and conditions outlined in the agreement. Most contracts will contain clauses relating to termination or cancellation, which specify under what circumstances the contract can be terminated and what penalties will apply if either party breaches their obligations. We, as your attorneys, will work with you to make sure that there are provisional clauses if there is a need or question about the transaction.

In some cases, a court may allow one party to terminate the contract due to unforeseen circumstances such as illness or death, but even then there could still be legal consequences for doing so.

What is Title Insurance?

Title insurance protects a purchaser’s ownership of a property from legal challenges that might arise from an illegal or erroneous transfer of title before the purchaser bought the property. Title insurance also protects an owner from a lien, judgment or encumbrance placed on the property prior to the purchase. Title insurance covers legal fees and the cost of any related past judgments levied against the property or challenges to ownership of the property up to the limit of coverage.

What is the difference between Owner’s Title Insurance and the Lender’s Title Insurance?

  • Owner’s Policy: Every homeowner should purchase an owner’s policy covering the purchase price of the home.
    • A purchaser may seek to purchase additional coverage to cover an additional amount should his home rise in value during the period in which he owns his home.
    • A purchaser should have his attorney review the title policy to determine if the policy includes any pertinent “exceptions” which will not be covered by the policy.
  • Lender’s Policy: Every lender will require a home buyer to purchase title insurance covering the amount of the mortgage or loan.
    • The face amount of the lender’s policy decreases as the mortgage decreases.
    • The lender’s attorney will review title policy to determine if the policy “excepts” any relevant aspects from title coverage.
    • The lender’s attorney will review title to ensure that the title policy is Underwritten by a reliable underwriter.

Why do I need to order a survey before buying a home?

A property survey is similar to a map of a piece of land drawn by a licensed surveyor who researches the property by visually inspecting the land and studies the property deeds and zoning documents. The surveyor will then draw a survey which will show the property’s legal boundaries and the locations of any buildings or structures on the property. The survey may also show any easements and entrances to the property and the topography of the land, including trees, rivers, swimming pools and fences.

A survey is important to order prior to purchasing a home since it provides homebuyers with valuable information that may affect their purchase. A survey may show that a portion of a property’s backyard is actually part of a municipal park or that the side shed actually belongs to a neighbor. Most commonly, it may show that the neighbor’s fence is a few feet over the property line, in which case the neighbors who are encroaching on the property should sign a “fence affidavit”, to avoid “adverse possession”.

A survey may also show additions or structures that were constructed on the property without proper zoning permits. With the information provided by a survey, a homebuyer may be able to negotiate a reduced purchase price to compensate for the reduced property size or to cover the costs of obtaining proper permits post-closing.

When a survey is certified, it is essentially a guarantee by the surveyor that protects the homebuyer for the lifetime of their ownership of the land. At The Law Offices of Aaron I. Katsman, we highly recommend that all home buyers order a survey once a mortgage commitment is issued to ensure delivery before closing.