Real Estate: Hire an Attorney to Navigate Purchase of a Home

The purchase of a home is the biggest financial decision most people will make and usually the biggest investment. 

Real estate transactions can be very complicated. Whether you are a buyer or a seller, it is advisable to hire an experienced lawyer to help navigate this process. While real estate agents market the property and negotiate the terms of offers, they are not permitted to draft any legal documents or give legal advice in New York.

In a typical real estate deal, there are three parties: the buyer, the seller, and the lender [unless it is an all cash deal] and each party is represented by an attorney. 

Attorneys owe a fiduciary duty to the party who hired them. They generally charge a flat fee which is paid at closing by the party who hired them.  Because the attorney’s fee does not depend on the deal closing, the attorney has no conflict of interest.

A savvy buyer should engage an attorney early on in the hunt for a home to ensure that once he or she finds the right property, the attorney can jump right in to negotiate the legal terms of the contract, the timing of the closing and a myriad of other details.  A buyer’s attorney also works to resolve any issues that come up over the course of a home inspection or in securing a mortgage.

Sellers should hire a real estate attorney who typically will review the listing agreement, prepare the contract of sale, review the title report for any liens and work to clear any issues before closing. The seller’s attorney also prepares all the legal documents needed at closing such as the deed and the transfer tax return, and also determines the amounts owed at closing.

 Whether representing the buyer or the seller, lawyers perform critical due diligence to ensure that the deal will go smoothly and to avoid any roadblocks that can blow up the deal at closing.

Judith Goldsborough is a NYS attorney and  Real Estate Broker


Judith (Peach Schnier) Goldsborough
Associate Real Estate Broker
Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty
5 Main Street, Cold Spring Harbor, NY 11724
Cell: 516.220.9249

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