Residential Real Estate
Whether you are a first-time homebuyer or you have experience buying and selling homes, Kohina Law Firm, PLLC, can help you through all aspects of the home-buying or home-selling process. Often, buying or selling a home can be the single largest personal business transaction in which a client will partake. We have extensive experience and can help guide you through this increasingly complex process. We represent buyers and sellers of single family homes, co-ops, condominiums and townhouses.
Whether you are purchasing your first home, upgrading to a larger home, or selling your “empty nest”, it should be an exciting and rewarding experience. We have a depth of talent that helps us not only anticipate but also avoid any potential mistakes that could cost you time, money and stress down the road. Our residential real estate lawyers help our clients understand the issues involved in their real estate matters every step of the way. At Kohina Law Firm, we make certain that you have enough information to make informed decisions about your purchase or sale.
Whether the market is slow or the market is strong, you can count on us to provide you with the proper perspective and protect your best interests.
We understand that no matter what side of a real estate transaction you are on, there are a significant amount of assets on the line. From starting a new investment to trying to protect your current one, we realize that what you need most at this time is an advocate who is looking out for your best interests. Allow us to fill that role and provide counsel you can depend on!
To learn more about how we can help you with your real estate matters or concerns, please call us at 212-202-0489 or email Kohina Law Firm PLLC, to arrange an appointment at one of our locations in New York City or Brooklyn.
Frequently Asked Questions
If the contract is not subject to attorney approval, you should NOT sign the agreement until your attorney has had the opportunity to review it with you. However, If the contract is subject to attorney approval, this gives your attorney the opportunity to review the contract and discuss it with you and make certain changes or modifications as may be appropriate to properly reflect your agreement.
There are several types of title insurance. The type of title insurance required by a mortgage lender is called “mortgagee” insurance. This insures your lender from any financial loss if a problem is discovered in the future with respect to your title to the property. Your mortgage lender requires you to obtain this policy to protect their interest in your home as a security or collateral for the money they are lending you to buy the home. This insurance does nothing to protect you or your interest in the property.
Unlike in most types of contracts where dates may be of critical importance, with real estate contracts, dates tend to be more of a “target date” and are not necessarily adhered to strictly. As such, the closing date specified in a real estate contract is not necessarily the date on which the closing must occur. For this reason, the closing date as recited in a real estate contract is not always critical. Nonetheless, it should be set with sufficient time allowed to accomplish what needs to be done in order to prepare for closing. Your real estate agent is able to suggest an appropriate closing date, subject to confirmation by your attorney. In addition, either party may take appropriate steps, when necessary, to compel the closing to occur on or following the date recited in the contract.
To avoid any unpleasant surprises our office strongly recommends that all purchasers retain an engineer or property inspector to inspect any property they are considering purchasing. A thorough inspection will include structural, plumbing, electrical, roofing, termite and radon testing as well as a search for any existing oil tanks on the property. Our office has obtained substantial reductions in the purchase price or has required the seller to make necessary repairs based on material defects that were uncovered during an inspection. The price of an inspection is a small but worthwhile investment on such a major purchase and often the cost of the report pays for itself in seller concessions.
Usually, your real estate agent will assume the responsibility of providing your attorney with a copy of the contract or the deal sheet. To assist the real estate agent in doing so, it is helpful to be aware of your attorney’s name, address, telephone number, e-mail address and fax number. If there are no real estate agents involved, it is usually the responsibility of each party to provide his/her attorney with a copy of the contract.
Most people are not financially able to purchase a new home without first selling their existing home. As such, both the sale of one’s current home and the purchase of one’s new home must occur at substantially the same time, in order to avoid either being without a home or owning two homes for a period of time. However, which contract should be entered into first is a matter of personal preference and is often determined by one’s own needs and expectations. For instance, if you intend to search until you find your dream house, you may be better off finding it first, since it may take quite some time to do so and your existing home may sell before you have found what you are looking for. On the other hand, if there is an abundance of appropriate housing on the market and you anticipate your house may be difficult to sell, you may be better off selling your home first since it may take quite some time to do so and your inability to sell your home would make it impossible for you to perform on any purchase contract you may have entered into.
One option is to add language to your contract of sale that requires the purchaser to enter into a post-closing possession agreement at the time of closing. A post-closing possession agreement allows the seller to remain in the home for a short period of time after the closing, usually ranging from days to months. The post-closing possession agreement usually includes a daily monetary rate charged to the seller for remaining in the home beyond the date specified in the agreement. Since the circumstances of each situation are quite different, the terms of such an agreement will vary from case to case. In any event, any such agreement should be in writing, signed by both parties and structured in such a way as neither party is required to assume any cost or responsibility which should properly be the obligation of the other party. For example, if the seller remains in the house after closing, the seller is typically required to reimburse the buyer for any mortgage, insurance and tax obligation of the buyer during the seller’s extended occupancy. Similarly, if the buyer takes possession early, the buyer would typically offset the seller’s mortgage, tax and insurance expenses. Various other issues, such as utilities, liability, damages and the like, should also be addressed in an occupancy agreement. Therefore, it is important that your attorney handle the preparation of this agreement. However, this is not always possible and it may be necessary to make alternate arrangements for temporary housing or temporary financing, pending the second closing.
Another option would be to close the sale of your current home and the purchase of your new property on the same date. The purchaser on your sale would be instructed to issue the sales proceeds to the sellers of your new purchase. This way you can physically take the proceed checks you get from your purchasers and deliver them to the sellers on your purchase.
Purchasing or selling a house or investment property can be stressful, but Kohina Law Firm assisting you, the process can be much more manageable. Call us today if you are thinking of buying or selling your home or investment property.
Under these circumstances, the buyer and the seller, through their attorneys, will typically reach an agreement that will either allow the seller to stay in the house past closing or the buyer to move into the house before closing, as the case may be. Since the circumstances of each situation are quite different, the terms of such an agreement will vary from case to case. In any event, any such agreement should be in writing, signed by both parties and structured in such a way as neither party is required to assume any cost or responsibility which should properly be the obligation of the other party. For example, if the seller remains in the house after closing, the seller is typically required to reimburse the buyer for any mortgage, insurance and tax obligation of the buyer during the seller’s extended occupancy. Similarly, if the buyer takes possession early, the buyer would typically offset the seller’s mortgage, tax and insurance expenses. Various other issues, such as utilities, liability, damages and the like, should also be addressed in an occupancy agreement. Therefore, it is important that your attorney handle the preparation of this agreement. However, this is not always possible and it may be necessary to make alternate arrangements for temporary housing or temporary financing, pending the second closing.
After the negotiating phase has been concluded and the contracts are fully executed and exchanged between the parties, the purchaser’s attorney orders a full title report of the property from a title insurance company. The title company conducts an investigation of the property to uncover any possible outstanding mortgages, tax arrears, violations and liens against the property and its owner(s) and to verify seller’s ownership of the property.
Additionally, the purchaser is now obligated to seek financing if the contract of sale is contingent upon purchaser obtaining financing. A purchaser is also urged to only seek the type of financing permitted in the contract; that is if the contract does not permit any particular type of loan such as an FHA loan, the purchaser should not be applying for that type of loan. The purchaser should keep their attorney updated on the mortgage commitment process as the purchaser is typically given a short period, typically 30 to 45 days, to secure a mortgage commitment before exercising a right to cancel the contract.
After title issues are cleared and the purchaser’s financing has been secured and is clear to close, the parties schedule a date for the closing. Your attorney should provide you an estimate of all the closing costs and adjustments and walk you through the process and needed bank checks for closing.
Normally, the buyer and seller both must attend a real estate closing. The closing date specified in a contract is usually flexible to accommodate scheduling of all the involved parties. However, sometimes it is not possible for one of the parties to attend the closing and in those circumstances, we can prepare a power of attorney which grants us or anyone else of your choosing to close the transaction on your behalf. We can also set up a time for you to go over all of the closing documents, understand the closing adjustments and proceeds to be exchanged at closing and pre-sign some of the necessary documents prior to the date of closing.
Because there are several different types of power of attorney forms and varying levels of authorization one can grant to an agent, it is important that the power of attorney be prepared by an attorney.
The answer would depend on the terms of the contract. For example, if a contract states a closing date of “on or about December 15, of this year” it allows either party to delay the closing for a period of up to thirty days while still being in compliance with the contract. However, if a contract states a closing date of “December 15, of this year, time is of the essence” it sets a firm closing date and the party to the contract that is unable to close by that date may be in breach of contract, allowing the other party to make a claim for damages. Subject to how a contract is written, if the purchaser fails to meet the “time of the essence” closing date, the purchaser’s contract deposit may be at forfeited.
Generally, when entering into a residential or commercial contract of sale, it is often recommended that the date for closing not be set as “time of the essence” as there are too many variables (especially when financing is involved) that could affect your ability to close as originally expected.
Buyers: 2 to 4 percent of the cost of the apartment and higher if purchasing a house.
A good rule of thumb is to set aside roughly 2 to 3 percent of the purchase price or 3 to 4 percent if the apartment is over $1 million (more on this later). Closing costs will be higher if you’re buying a condo or a house. First off, you’ll have to cover title insurance. The state determines rates for the insurance itself, and there are also various administrative charges, so expect to spend about $3,000 to $4,000. Co-ops don’t require title insurance, since technically there’s no transfer of title for real property, since you’re buying shares in a corporation.
A purchaser can generally expect to pay:
An insurance premium (except on co-ops) for title insurance which can range from $1,000 to $10,000 or higher, depending on the purchase price and the amount of your mortgage.
A mortgage recording tax (except on co-op financing)
- Westchester County (except Yonkers) = borrower pays 1.05% of amount of the mortgage less $30;
- Yonkers = borrower pays 1.55% of the amount of the mortgage less $30;
- New York City = borrower pays 1.8% of the amount of the mortgage less $30 IF the mortgage is $499,999.00 or less
- New York City = borrower pays 1.925% of the amount of the mortgage less $30 IF the mortgage is $500,000 or greater.
A “mansion tax” of 1% of the full purchase price where the purchase price is $1,000,000 or more.
Title search and recording fees of $500 to $1,000.
Legal fees can vary and depend on the circumstances of the transaction. The cost of a new survey (if necessary) is $600 to $1,500.
A lender will also generally require a Home Owners insurance policy to be prepaid for a year.
The lender must also provide the purchaser with a Truth in Lending statement which will outline the lender’s estimated fees, including discount points, bank service charges, application fees, appraisal fees, and bank’s attorney fee.
For sellers, closing costs take a bite out of the proceeds from the deal, possibly affecting your future plans.
Sellers can expect to pay a lot more than buyers, largely because they have to cover the brokers’ commission, which is traditionally 6 percent The other big charge is a transfer tax of 1.825 percent if the sale price is over $500,000 or 1.4 percent for deals under $500,000. Both these items apply equally to condos and co-ops. Here is a breakdown:
- New York State Transfer Tax = $2.00 per $500 of purchase price
- Real Property Transfer Tax – Yonkers = 1.5% of the purchase price over $25,000
- Mt Vernon = 1% of the purchase price with an exemption on the first $100,000 of consideration.
- New York City = 1% of the purchase price of $500,000.00 or less
- New York City = 1.425% of the purchase price of $500,000.01 or more
Also, of note that some co-ops have flip taxes of 2 percent or thereabouts, and sellers are usually the ones who cover this cost
A fee to pay off and record a satisfaction of a mortgage is generally $250 per mortgage.
Legal fees can vary and depend on the circumstances or complexity of the transaction.
Yes. Terms of an occupancy agreement can be negotiated at the time of the contract. This way, both parties are aware of the need for occupancy from the beginning and potential problems can be avoided in the future. The standard contract form, used by most real estate professionals, contains an optional provision regarding occupancy. However, a separate occupancy agreement should still be prepared by your attorney, incorporating all the important terms and conditions of the occupancy–not just those set forth in the purchase agreement.
No, unless the terms of the contract allow for you to do so. Unlike some other types of contracts, there is no grace period following the signing of the contract when it can be canceled or “rescinded”. Once the seller has accepted a purchase offer and the contract is executed by both sides, it becomes a legally binding and enforceable contract. Therefore, before submitting or accepting a purchase offer, it is critical that you are certain that you want to proceed upon the terms and conditions in the agreement.
No. By entering into a contract containing a mortgage contingency, you are agreeing to use your best efforts to obtain a mortgage commitment. Your refusal to cooperate with your lender, in good faith, would be deemed a breach of your contractual obligations may your earnest money deposit.
The other party is also bound by the terms of the contract. The refusal to proceed according to the terms of the contract constitutes a breach of contract, which would entitle you to pursue to compel the other party to perform under the terms of the contract and/or to pay money damages as a result of the breach. It is essential that you discuss your options and alternatives with your attorney should this occur.
No, not unless the agreements are incorporated into the contract. The written contract is considered to reflect the entire agreement between the parties and no discussions or oral agreements will be considered to be part of the deal. Any such discussions should either be written into the contract, added to the contract as a written addendum or rider which is signed by both parties or added to the contract as part of your attorney’s approval.
A “contingency” is a provision in a contract which makes it necessary for a specified event to occur in order for the contract to remain in effect. If the event does not occur within the required timeframe, the contract may be terminated. Typical contingencies include an Attorney Approval Contingency (i.e. if my attorney doesn’t approve the contract, I can cancel it), a Mortgage Contingency (i.e. if I don’t qualify for a mortgage, I can cancel the contract); a Purchase Contingency (i.e. if I don’t find another house to buy, I can cancel my contract to sell); a Sale Contingency (i.e. if I can’t sell my house, I can cancel my contract to buy); an Inspection Contingency (i.e. if an inspection of the property by an expert discloses problems I wasn’t aware of, I can cancel the contract), etc.
If the transaction fails to close because a contingency cannot be satisfied, it gets returned to the buyer. Likewise, the deposit is returned to the buyer if the transaction fails to close as a consequence of the fault or breach of the seller, in addition to which, the buyer may be entitled to sue the seller for any damages sustained as a result of this breach of contract. However, if the transaction fails to close as a result of the fault or breach of the buyer, the buyer may be required to forfeit the deposit to the seller. In addition, the seller may also be entitled to sue the buyer for further damages sustained as a result of the breach of contract.
This is a legally mandatory form the seller is required to complete and provide to a potential purchaser before the purchaser makes an offer. It is intended to communicate certain information to a prospective buyer regarding the seller’s knowledge of the condition of the property. The seller is not expected to investigate or research any of the questions raised in this form. However, the seller is obligated to fully and completely disclose any requested information to the best of his/her knowledge. Therefore, it is important for the seller to be truthful and as accurate as possible. Nevertheless, while this statement can give a purchaser a better understanding of the property, it should not be relied upon as a complete, accurate or definitive statement. In the event the seller fails to provide a completed Property Condition Disclosure Statement, the buyer may be entitled to receive a $500.00 credit at closing from the seller. Often, sellers simply credit the purchaser the $500 to avoid filling out and providing the form.
It means that the property will be transferred to the buyer in the same condition as when he/she inspected it prior to submitting the purchase offer, subject to normal wear and deterioration. The seller is not making any specific representations as to the condition of any property transferred “as is”. In other words, “what you see is what you get” and “buyer beware”. This does not permit a seller, however, to make false statements or misrepresentations about the condition of the property or to hide or conceal the condition of the property.