When selling a home, it is customary to have both a real estate attorney and a real estate agent on your side. The real estate agent will assist with determining the price your home should be listed at as well as marketing and showing your property to potential buyers. The real estate attorney will be the one to assist with the contract of sale, reviewing the title report ordered by the buyers’ attorney, preparing the closing documents (which includes the deed and transfer documents), and calculating the amounts owed at closing.
On the flip side, when purchasing a home, it is not necessary to use a real estate agent, but a real estate attorney should still be consulted. Your attorney should be sent the deal sheet that itemizes the terms of the contract for the parties involved. From there, they will contact the seller’s attorney and receive a draft of the contract of sale. Then, both the seller’s and purchaser’s attorneys will negotiate the terms of the deal. You will meet with your attorney to review and sign the contract while also discussing the mortgage contingency and closing dates.
Once the contract has been signed, a title report will be ordered and overseen by the seller and purchaser’s attorneys. After all of this is reviewed and completed, you will sign loan documents, transfer documents, and receive your title insurance and loan insurance policies at the closing.
Relevant articles: “Due Diligence for NYC Buyers: 6 Items to Review Before a Purchase” and “You Finally Found Your Dream Home… Now What?”
A deed transfer is the official proof of the transfer of ownership from one individual to another. Another form of transferring real estate is switching ownership over from an individual to an LLC. Many people purchase real estate under an individual’s name, but this can result in personal liability being extended to the property in the event that the property is subject to liens and/or judgments.
Instead, individuals can avoid personal liability by placing their property into an LLC. This alternative is a great way to protect your assets, avoid liability for possible lawsuits and even take advantage of some tax benefits.
Refinancing a loan or mortgage to lower interest rates or replace your mortgage with a new loan may be beneficial to saving homeowners or landlords money in the future.
Relevant article: “Legal Agreements to Protect Landlords”
1031 Exchanges are a process that allows a seller to defer paying capital gains tax on a sale by investing the entire sale amount into the purchase of another property.
The 1031 Exchange process is quite strict:
Relevant article: “1031 Exchange VS. Qualified Opportunity Zones”
Construction contract agreements specify the details of a construction process including: the project description, the project schedule, the scope and budget, and payment basis for the contractor.
Commercial real estate transactions involve the buying and selling of commercial property such as office buildings, retail stores, industrial properties, and more. Commercial property transactions involve a complicated process due to the larger sum of money at stake, due diligence, and complex contracts.
Commercial leases differ greatly from residential leases. Starting with the timeline of closing a deal, a commercial lease could take 3 to 12 months until it’s fully executed. Then, once an application is submitted to the landlord, the approval process can also take several weeks. Once the lease has been fully executed, there is also “Initial Work” that goes into the premises, which delays rent payment, the business opening, and the broker’s commission. Often, the best thing a broker can do to accelerate the deal would be a strong letter of intent (LOI), detailing as many agreed upon terms between the parties as possible.
Property boundary concerns and fences are typical causes of property disputes amongst neighbors. Laws vary within individual cities and neighborhoods, so it is important to know what applies to your land and how to take action. When an issue does arise, it is important to address the issue early on to come to an agreement between neighbors.
Should the issue continue or become a bigger problem, it may be in your best interest to contact a property lawyer to assist in coming to a solution.
Issues that may arise in a property dispute include:
Relevant article “How to Resolve A Neighborhood Fence Dispute”
In New York, if a neighbor encroaches on your property knowingly and without permission for a minimum of ten years, the neighbor can claim ownership of that encroached property (NY RP ACT & PRO § 501). This is also known as the “squatter’s rights.” A possessor must have actual, open and notorious, hostile, exclusive, and continuous control for the statutory period to claim right of title.
In 2008, New York amended its laws to heighten the requirement for hostility by requiring that possessor have a “reasonable basis for the belief that the property belongs to” them (Children’s Magical Garden, Inc. v. Norfolk Street Development, 164 A.D.3d 73). This is different from the hostility requirement that allows a possessor who knows the property is not theirs to acquire title to the property.
Encroachment is the act of building a structure which is in part or in whole on a neighbor’s property. To protect our clients, we include language in our riders to the contract limiting such encroachments to one foot in length. In New York, small or “de minimis” encroachment such as shrubbery or a fence are permitted and do not create a claim for adverse possession.
Additionally, a purchaser should always obtain a survey that will identify the actual boundaries of the property and depict any encroachments within the boundary lines. In circumstances where the encroachments exceed one foot, generally title companies would deem the title unmarketable, making the contract of sale void.
Arguably one of the most important aspects of real estate transactions is reviewing the title report. A title report outlines and addresses any legal issues of a property including information on: zoning laws, property value, current tax information, the chain of ownership, mortgage information, judgement dockets against prior owners, and liens. Title claims may arise based on the following issues: liens, easements, encroachments, and various oversights.
A partition is when a court orders to divide up a concurrent estate, owned by more than one person, into separate parts that represent the fair interests of each owner. This is sometimes referred to as a “forced sale,” when the co-owners are unable to agree on use or occupation of the property.