Real Estate Closings

When you are buying or selling a home or a commercial property, you need to know that your lawyer has got your back. A real estate transaction is often the largest purchase or sale that many people will ever make, and plenty can go wrong. Mr. Altman is thoroughly experienced in real estate closings, both residential and commercial, and can protect your interests. For one thing, some real estate practitioners have never handled litigation. Mr. Altman's broad experience is therefore a tremendous asset. He understands the worst case scenarios and how things might play out in court should it ever come to that. That gives him unique perspective when negotiating the nitty-gritty details of a deal.

Representing a Seller

For the seller, once the decision is made who to sell to and at what price, it becomes the responsibility of the real estate attorney to ensure that the deal goes through as smoothly as possible. Mr. Altman usually starts with obtaining an overview of the deal from a real estate broker. Then, an in-depth interview of the seller is conducted. Things like the exact name of the seller, the exact title to the property, the existence of an underground oil tank, is there well water, what outstanding mortgages are there and how much is still owed, and the price and downpayment are discussed. Mr. Altman then drafts the contract of sale, a seller's rider and a lead paint disclosure form and negotiates the terms of the deal with the attorney for the purchaser. Once the agreement is signed by the purchaser and received with the downpayment check, Mr. Altman supervises execution by the seller. He then deposits the downpayment into an escrow account and serves as the escrowee for the transaction.

Mr. Altman then assists the seller with any problems with title that might arise. The seller usually must supply clear title such that "any reputable title insurance or abstract company licensed to do business in New York State would insure". That means that title does not have to be perfect, just insurable. Problems that might prevent the seller from giving insurable title could be an old mortgage that was never properly discharged, a monetary judgment against the seller or something as simple as a late tax payment or water bill. These imperfections in title are referred to as "liens" or "encumbrances". It is the attorney's job to address these objections and help the seller to clear them up.

In arranging for the closing, Mr. Altman obtains payoff information for any mortgages so that they can be paid off. Mr. Altman also prepares adjustments for things such as rents, taxes, condominium common charges or cooperative maintenance. He further drafts the Deed, New York State Real Property Transfer Tax Return, the Real Property Transfer Report, any local transfer tax return and, if applicable, a Nonresident Real Property or Cooperative Unit Estimated Income Tax Payment Form. Most importantly, however, Mr. Altman ensures that, notwithstanding all the papers and checks flying around the table, the seller gets all the money that the seller is entitled to. After the closing Mr. Altman drafts and forwards a detailed closing statement to the seller that clearly summarizes the transaction and provides copies of the most important documents.

Representing a Buyer

For the purchaser, the attorney's job is to insure that the purchaser gets what they bid for, at the price and on the terms that they have offered and without inheriting any headaches from the seller. In many cases the purchaser is a first time buyer and needs to be educated on the basics of real estate transactions so that any anxiety they may feel does not interfere with sound decision making. After all, there is usually a substantial downpayment that is at risk right at the outset.

Mr. Altman usually gets involved after the seller has accepted a bid for the property. He will often get an overview of the deal from a real estate broker and then conduct an in-depth interview of the purchaser. Things like the purchaser's exact name and how they can and might like to take title is discussed. Also, if the purchaser is planning on getting a mortgage, Mr. Altman will explore whether the purchaser has any other debts such as personal or business loans either in their name or that they have co-signed or guaranteed, any credit card balances, judgments or liens in their name, or do they own any other real estate. These items might interfere with purchaser's ability to secure financing.

If the property is a condominium or a cooperative, Mr. Altman will complete an overview of the Offering Plan, sometimes referred to as the Black Book, and review the last two certified financial statements of the condominium association or cooperative corporation. In all transactions, he will ask the purchaser if engineering and environmental inspections have been completed and whether or not there are any issues concerning insect or vermin infestation, lead paint, radon, mold, septic, well water, or the existence of an underground or leaky oil tank.

Mr. Altman will then confirm the purchase price, the downpayment, and how much the purchaser intends to finance with one or more mortgages, the second often consisting of a home equity line of credit, or HELOC for short. He will ask where the purchaser intends to apply for financing and has the purchaser been pre-qualified or pre-approved. Mr. Altman will then review the proposed contract of sale and any riders prepared by the attorney for the seller and almost always make changes and propose a purchaser's rider with terms favorable to the purchaser. Once the final terms are agreed to, Mr. Altman will meet with the purchasers to review the contract of sale and any riders with them and have the papers signed, collect the downpayment check, and transmit the signed contract and purchaser's check to the seller's attorney for the seller to sign.

Once the contract is returned signed by the seller, the next steps are usually to immediately order a title examination and formally apply for one or more mortgages. In the case of a cooperative, a lien search instead of a title search is ordered, but the principles are the same. Mr. Altman will review the title report or lien search for any problems with title, and with a title search will check for violations issued against the property, that any building permits have been either withdrawn or properly closed out and check that the Certificate of Occupancy, which gives an owner the legal right to occupy and use the property, is consistent with the nature of the property and the purchaser's expectations. Mr. Altman will also cooperate with the mortgage lender to obtain formal approval for the loan, called a mortgage commitment.

Once the mortgage commitment is issued and Mr. Altman is satisfied that the seller has already, or will at closing, clear all issues raised in the title report, a closing is scheduled. In preparation for the closing Mr. Altman will confer with the attorney representing the lender to learn the net loan proceeds available after the deduction of the lender's charges, will verify the accuracy of the closing adjustments for things such as rents, taxes, condominium common charges or cooperative maintenance, and advise the purchaser of the amounts to bring to closing in bank or certified funds.

At the closing, Mr. Altman will first check with the purchaser to learn if there were any problems with the final inspection of the property, and if so, revisit the adjustments to be made at closing. He will then review and supervise the execution of the mortgage note and mortgage, or security agreement in the case of a cooperative, and all accompanying papers required by the lender. Mr. Altman will also confer with the representative of the title insurance company to ensure that all issues raised in the title report have been resolved and that a title policy is either issued at closing or will follow shortly. He will then review the Deed and oversee the purchaser's signing of the New York State Real Property Transfer Tax Return, the Real Property Transfer Report, and any local transfer tax return, if required, and supply the purchaser with an Application for School Tax Relief (STAR) Exemption. Once the appropriate checks are issued by the lender, the title company is paid and the balance of the purchase price is tendered to the seller, the keys to the property are given to the purchaser and the closing is concluded. Thereafter, Mr. Altman will draft and forward a detailed closing statement clearly summarizing what took place at the closing. Some time later, he will receive the duly recorded, original Deed and forward it to the purchaser.

You Need a Good Lawyer On Your Side

As you can see, there is a lot to a real estate transaction. The above is just a summary. If you are buying or selling real estate, then please call Mr. Altman for a free consultation. He will review your circumstances and discuss your options. If you retain Mr. Altman to represent you, then you can rest assured that you will have a capable and vastly experienced ally in your corner.

So please call right away or contact us online for a free consultation!