Westchester Residential Real Estate Law

For many people, buying a home is the biggest investment they will ever make. A residential real estate lawyer guides you through the process, from accepted offer to delivery of the deed.

In New York, each party—both the seller and the buyer—needs an attorney. Typically, the attorney becomes involved after the seller accepts the buyer’s offer, but sometimes an attorney can be helpful in advance, especially for the seller. The seller’s attorney is the one responsible for drafting the Contract of Sale, and will need to review the vesting deed, title policy, and possibly the municipal records as well, to accomplish this task.

Once the terms of the Accepted Offer have been determined between the parties and their real estate agents, the parties’ attorneys will handle preparing and negotiating contracts, ordering and review of the title report with survey (or the lien search for cooperative units), and evaluating the reports in order ensure clear legal title can be delivered at closing.

In preparation for closing, the attorneys draft and negotiate closing documents, calculate tax adjustments and other closing figures, prepare any documents required by the title company, prepare a Closing Statement, prepare the client for closing, and representant the client at the closing itself.

In Westchester County, the seller’s attorney performs the following tasks:

  • Prepares the contract of sale to send to the buyer’s attorney;
  • Reviews all legal documents relating to the property, including the current deed, any mortgage or title papers, and any documents relating to legal circumstances, such as an estate sale or short sale);
  • Holds the down payment for purchase of the property (often, 10% of the selling price) in his or her attorney escrow account until the closing date; and
  • Prepares the new deed and closing adjustments (including taxes due or prepaid by the seller), reading of the water bill at or near closing, and a reading of fuel in the tank (if oil is the fuel) at or near closing.

In Westchester County, the buyer’s attorney performs the following tasks:

  • Negotiates the terms of the Contract of Sale, and guides the buyer in the process of its execution;
  • Performs Due Diligence for coops and condos by reviewing their organization documents and most recent financial statements. Follows up with the managing agent with any due diligence questions.
  • Reviews Commitment Letter, if the buyer is obtaining financing.
  • Obtains a complete, updated title search from the title company to determine if there are any liens, defects of title, or any other impediments to closing, and if necessary, works with the title company and seller to ensure same are resolved at or prior to the closing;
  • Negotiates the closing adjustments with the seller’s attorney;
  • Prepares the Closing Statement;
  • Provides the buyer with closing and check instructions; and
  • Represents the buyer at Closing and explains the many loan and title documents requiring their signature at the closing table.

The process of transferring ownership of residential real estate in Westchester County can seem a daunting task for the uninitiated.  This is why it is important to carefully select counsel who can guide the process.  If you are buying or selling real estate in Westchester County, you want a law firm with extensive local experience and a niche expertise, like Lanahan Law LLC.