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Questions You Should Ask During Your Free Consultation

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Buying or selling real estate is likely to be the most complex transaction you will make in your lifetime, and many questions, and sometimes complications, arise during the process. When that happens, most people will call their real estate agent or broker.

Since it’s also a fact that mistakes or oversights that sometimes happen during the real estate transaction can cause major legal consequences, especially if the deal is complicated or risky, it’s wise to consult with a real estate attorney.

We put together 5 general questions you should ask during your free lawyer consultation in NYC to make sure you’ve got the perfect legal match:

  1. Questions About Lawyer’s Experience

It’s smart to learn how much real-life legal experience your real estate attorney has, and what percentage of an attorney’s practice is devoted to real estate transactions.

Since not all real estate matters are created equal, determining if your attorney has dealt with transactions similar to yours will give you a better idea if he or she will be able to foresee potential issues and handle them on your behalf.

You want a lawyer who will not only negotiate on your behalf, but also take steps to ensure that you are aware of any legal particulars in your state, and that the contract follows all state laws, as well as addresses any specific issues.

Finally, find out who you will work with directly, who will do the most work on your legal matter, and make sure you’re comfortable with that person.

  1. Questions About Your Case

Experienced real estate lawyers will be able to provide a rough outline of the actions that need to be taken based on your case.

This may include filing of certain documents, reviewing contracts, amending contracts, title search, etc. And, it’s wise to ask about any actions that you should or should not take, as you certainly want to protect yourself during such important and complex transactions.

  1. Questions About the Process

Find out what the process of buying or selling a property looks like. You want to learn about possible difficulties and obstacles that might arise, such as disputes over repairs, title issues and appraisal issues. That’s why it’s so vital to have your attorney review your contract and make suggestions before you sign it.

Your real estate lawyer is there to protect you and make the process easier.

  1. Questions About the Cost

You want to know about the cost of the legal services, so you can plan ahead.

Ask your real estate lawyer what his or her hourly rate is, how much the retainer is, and whether or not the fee is a fixed or time-based fee.

You also want to ask what is included in the service and if you’ll need to pay for anything else in the process. Finally, inquire about what the things are that could change how much their services cost.

  1. Questions About Timelines and Expectations

You also want to ask of the approximate timelines to determine how long your case could take. Don’t hesitate to ask when you can expect to hear from your lawyer next.

Another great question to ask is: Are my expectations realistic?

Try to have reasonable expectations. The legal system and real estate law does not always work the way we want, so you may not get everything you want. And, delays sometimes happen.

Having Levin Law Group’s experienced, competent real estate lawyers by your side to look out for your legal interests with seasoned eyes will help ensure the transaction proceeds smoothly.

When searching for free consultation lawyers in NYC and other nearby areas, contact our real estate attorneys who are expert in assisting individuals and business entities in a broad spectrum of residential and commercial real estate transactions.

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Clean Homes Sell Quicker, So Be Sure to Spring Clean!

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Spring, this wonderful season of renewal, blossoms and fragrant air, is finally here. This is the season to shake off the old and embrace new beginnings.

But did you know that spring is also the time when homes sell faster?

 According to a recent study by researchers at Zillow, homes listed in the spring, specifically in the first half of May, on average sold around 18.5 days faster than those listed during a different timeframe!

When the weather is nice, shopping for homes is so much more enjoyable; plus, people like to begin new projects in the spring.

Are you looking to sell your property? Take advantage of the spring season – the optimal house selling time! 

If you’re ready to sell your home, it’s wise, though, to not just list it without any preparation. After all, you only get one chance to make a good first impression, so take steps to have a presentable home for potential buyers.

Start with putting your buyer’s hat on, or have a real estate expert over, and walk thru your home looking for things to improve. Make a list of which minor touch-ups, necessary repairs or replacements are in order, and of the things that will enhance the look and feel of your home, beginning with the curb appeal.

Some of the essential things to do when getting your property ready for selling is getting rid of clutter and cleaning.

First, go through your possessions and get rid of the clutter and things that you don’t need. Also, hide family photos and other personal belongings for the house showings. Cleaning will be a lot easier when the clutter is gone.

Some other things to keep in mind when preparing your home for sale include painting the walls neutral colors and keeping the décor simple. A red dining room could turn off many potential buyers, so repaint your rooms in neutral tones – it will allow buyers to focus on your spaces, not the color of your walls. Simple décor will help buyers imagine themselves in your space, so it’s better to stick with classic, timeless pieces of furniture and decoration.

Oh, and don’t forget the importance of smells – think fresh and clean, so no frying fish or cooking curry the day of a showing.

If you’ve already moved out or if you simply cannot manage to keep your place in tip-top condition, hire a cleaning service to maintain the cleanliness every couple of weeks.

Let them turn your home into a spotless place, making sure all windows and hard to reach and not often used places are taken care of, too.

Homes seem to sell quicker in the spring, but clean homes will certainly sell even faster, so it’s worth every penny to make your home look immaculate and get expert cleaners to perform and in-depth cleaning for you.

For all your real estate transactions, hire an expert real estate attorney to ensure your home and your interests are protected throughout such important and complex deals.

We invite you to contact the Levin Law Group, a trustworthy, reliable real estate law firm in New York State and let our real estate lawyers assist you in a broad spectrum of residential and commercial real estate transactions today.

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You Should Start 2017 with a Revocable Trust – Here’s Why

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No matter your age, it’s never too early or too late to start considering creating a living will and begin estate planning.

When it comes to last wills and testaments, understanding different aspects of it is not only helpful, it’s a must – for several reasons.

Having the right documents in order can bring you and your dear ones a peace of mind and a feeling of security and comfort.

So, do you have a revocable trust in place? If not, here’s why you should.

A revocable trust is a powerful estate-planning tool that you can create at any time during your life, and that can also be changed or terminated at any time.

When you create a revocable trust you become the grantor, the trustor, or the settlor, and, in most cases, also the trustee of the trust and the primary beneficiary of the trust during your lifetime.

A Revocable Trust grants you privacy for yourself and your heirs during the process.

The main purpose for a revocable trust is to avoid probate, the legal process of distributing assets of a decedent at death, which includes taking an inventory of assets, notifying and paying creditors, etc., and is made available to the public. This way, the privacy of the grantor and their beneficiaries is protected.

Next, it is more effective than having just a Last Will and Testament, since revocable trust gives you, the grantor, an orderly way for your assets to be distributed to your chosen heirs upon your death.

Since you can amend the revocable trust document as many times as you wish, the distribution of assets can be changed as your circumstances change, such as acquiring additional assets. A trustee you named in your trust document will work with the executor of the estate to follow your guidelines when the time comes.

A revocable trust also provides creditor protection for beneficiaries, if the assets remain in the trust upon the passing of the grantor.

Unlike a will, a living trust also covers you while you are still alive.

This means that having a revocable trust may reduce your state estate taxes; especially for families living in a state with an additional estate tax, a well-written revocable trust may provide significant value.

When you move assets into a revocable trust, it will not affect an individual’s federal lifetime gift or estate tax exemption, as it is not considered a gift.

A revocable trust is also beneficial if you have assets in more than one state, since without it, your assets, including real estate, held in more than one state would be subject to a separate probate process for each state.

If you’re an investor with significant assets or assets in more than one state, it’s recommended that you consult with your estate planning attorney to review the benefits of this important estate planning tool. That includes having a complex collection of investments, such as real estate, artwork, and other assets that would be difficult for beneficiaries to distribute.

 Finally, assets held in the name of a Revocable Living Trust at the time a person becomes mentally incapacitated can be managed by their Disability Trustee.

This ensure you are in control of who makes decisions for you, instead of a court-supervised guardian or conservator. 

Finally, if you’re not sure what the main difference between a revocable trust and an irrevocable trust is: an irrevocable trust cannot be modified or terminated without permission of the beneficiary, meaning once you transfer the assets into the irrevocable trust, it removes all rights of ownership to your trust and assets.

At the Levin Law Group, our experienced wills and trusts attorneys in New York will assist you in advising and preparing a wide range of estate planning documents, including a Revocable Trust.


Take steps to ensure your wishes, interests and assets are protected. Start the New Year right – get a will prepared by a trustworthy and proficient real estate lawyer.

Contact Levin Law Group New York real estate law firm.

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End 2016 Strong and/or Start 2017 with a Bang

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New Year is right around the corner, and with it come new beginnings. Are you ready to start a business? Or, are you ready to take your business to a new level? Either way, having a good accountant and a good business lawyer is what every business needs.

End of the year is a perfect time to make sure all your financial, legal, and enterprise matters are in order and well taken care of.

Having a trusted business law attorney on your side is crucial to the success of your business, and it gives you peace of mind knowing your rights and interests are protected.

If you’re thinking of opening a business, thorough preparation is crucial in New York, or any other state, with a multitude of highly important business and legal issues to consider.

We can help you start and continue on the right foot – from business planning to start-up assistance, from capital financing options to legal documents, insurance, and licenses, and everything in between.

Opening a company and running a business can be very exciting, and it can also be overwhelming and seem very complicated. Legal assistance can help you prevent mistakes that can cost you dearly and bring not just financial, but also legal consequences.

While it’s easy to become overwhelmed at the end of the year with holiday stuff and wrapping up your company’s sales and projects, as a business owner you should take time to ensure your business is legally fit for 2017.

Now is a perfect time to tie up any loose ends you’ve been putting off throughout the year.  

 Does your business need a Fictitious Business Name (or DBA)? Did you obtain a Tax ID number (Employer ID Number)? Are all your necessary business licenses and permits in order?

Understanding New York State licensing and permitting and other requirements in your area is crucial, so you can be sure you are for applying for the right license or permit, as well as the name of your business.

If you haven’t already, make sure you take care of your business’ legal and administrative activities now. By addressing certain issues in 2016, you might be able to save money in fees, taxes, and penalties moving forward.

You may want to consider trademarking the unique name of your business or products, and implement plans to protect any trade secrets.

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If you’re in the process of selecting a legal structure for your business, consider carefully. Defining who will own and be legally responsible for your business, and how to file your taxes, and how much liability and risk you want to take on is extremely important.  Let our experienced business lawyers help you with figuring out if your business should operate as a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, S-corporation, or C-corporation?

Next, is your business properly registered? Some business owners spend thousands of dollars and years of effort to develop a business, only to find out that it was not properly registered in the first place. Seek legal and business advice first.  

Do you currently have confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements with anyone your business will come into contact witha solid, thorough contract to protect you and your business?

Does your business have all the required insurance, such as workers’ compensation, liability, and disability insurance, depending on your structure, location and employees? If not, don’t delay taking steps to protect your business from loss, fines, and lawsuits.

Now is also a good time to make sure your business is protected and your legal bases covered if there are any existing issues or disagreements with a client, supplier, service provider, or your own employee. Your business attorney will ensure there are no legal omissions or errors, and assist you with tight agreements that will protect your rights.

At Levin Law Group, our reputable and skillful business lawyers and corporate attorneys are well equipped to assist you with business laws and customs and provide support with legal challenges when planning, structuring, and conducting business transactions within a wide range of industries.

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Take steps now to set yourself up for greater chance of success in 2017 and contact our business law attorneys today – after all, what better gift could you give your business for the New Year?

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The Levin Law Group Announces NEW Estate Planning Package to Better Serve Clients

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The Levin Law Group is pleased to announce the NEW Inclusive Estate Planning Package designed to better serve clients in need of these services. The attorneys at Levin Law Group understand the importance of Estate Planning for families, but realize that many families avoid planning for fear of expenses involved. The Levin Law Group’s new Estate Planning Package seeks to alleviate those fears and meet estate planning needs effectively.

The Levin Law Group’s Estate Planning Package features an affordable price of only $3,995 and includes a revocable trust, a pour over will, a healthcare proxy, a living will and a power of attorney. In addition, Levin Law offers locations conveniently located in Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau, Staten Island, Suffolk, Westchester, as well as North and Central Jersey, so each and every client can access their expertise in Estate Planning.

The attorneys at Levin Law Group are experts in Estate Planning and promise to come alongside clients and explain the nuances of each piece of the Estate Planning Package so every client gains the knowledge and understanding needed to make informed choices. Each Estate Planning Package is tailored to meet the needs of individuals and families with the promise of the highest quality and care in Estate Planning services and the associated expert legal counsel.

“Listening to the concerns of our clients about the cost of estate planning over the years, we decided that creating this package was a must. We are excited to be able to offer this package at an affordable rate so that we can assist as many people as possible with their estate planning needs.” – Yevgeny Levin, Levin Law Group.

The Estate Planning Package includes the necessary documents to protect your beneficiaries, your assets, and your entire estate. At Levin Law, you can expect the expertise, knowledge, and care you desire in planning for the future.

Call on the respected attorneys at Levin Law Group (http://www.YLevinLaw.com) to discuss how the new Estate Planning Package can meet your family’s needs.

Bio: The Levin Law Group of New York makes every effort to deliver on their promise of unparalleled, expert legal services tailored to meet the needs of each distinctive client, expertly and proficiently every time. The Levin Law Group is proud to provide expertise in real estate law, business law, wills, trusts, and estate law.

The original press release can be found here.

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Top 7 Things to Know Before Creating Your Will

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Preparing a will is not the most pleasant of tasks, nor is it at the top of most people’s list.

For many, it feels not only like acknowledging your own inevitable end but also like actively planning for it. This is probably why so many adults avoid or postpone this fundamental part of estate planning.

Even though creating a will is one of the most critical things you can do for your loved ones, a survey by AARP showed that 2 out of 5 Americans over the age of 45 don’t have a will.

A will is an important way to help ensure that your property goes to exactly who you intend it to go to. Stating your wishes on paper will also help your heirs avoid unnecessary hassles, so by planning in advance you can save your family time and money. 

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Since the laws vary from state to state, it’s wise to consult with a knowledgeable wills attorney in NYC before you do anything.

 Here are top 7 general things to know about writing a will:

  1. What Is a Will?

It’s a legal document in which you, the testator, declare who will manage your estate after you die.

The person named in the will to manage your last wishes and estate is called the executor. Your estate can consist of anything from a big mansion or a vacation home to trinkets or photographs that hold sentimental value. You can declare who you want to receive specific items that you own, and the person designated to receive any of your property is called a beneficiary. 

A will can also state whom you wish to become the guardian for any minor children or dependents.

All wills must meet certain standards such as being witnessed to be legally valid.

Note that some types of property, including certain insurance policies and retirement accounts, generally are not covered by a will.

You should list your beneficiaries when you take out the policies or open the accounts. Make sure it’s all up to date, since what you have on file when you die should dictate who receives those assets.

  1. What Happens If I Die Without a Will?

When there’s no valid will, your estate will usually be settled based on the laws of your state that outline who inherits what. That’s called intestate.

Probate is the legal process of transferring the property to the rightful heirs. 

When there’s no named executor, a judge appoints an administrator. This also happens if a will is deemed to be invalid. Requirements vary from state to state.

An administrator will most likely be a stranger to you and your family, and they may make decisions that wouldn’t necessarily align with your wishes or those of your heirs.

  1. Do I Need an Attorney to Prepare My Will?

You are not required to hire a lawyer to prepare your will, although an experienced lawyer can provide useful advice on estate-planning strategies, such as living trusts, and make sure that your will meets the legal requirements of your state. Consider seeking an estate lawyer for a free consultation.

While you’re creating or updating your will, think about preparing other essential estate-planning documents, such as financial and health care powers of attorney to ensure that your wishes are carried out while you’re still alive. 

  1. Who Should I Name as My Executor?

Your spouse, an adult child, or another trusted friend or relative could be named an executor of your will.  

However, if your affairs are complicated, you may want to consider naming an attorney or someone with legal and financial expertise. Also, you can name joint executors, such as your spouse or partner and your attorney.

One of the most important things your will can do is empower your executor to settle any bills or debt you may have, so it’s crucial that your will clearly allows for this. 

  1. Where Should I Keep My Will?

 It’s important to keep your will in a safe yet accessible place, especially since a probate court usually requires your original will before it can process your estate.

If your will is kept in a bank safe deposit box that only you have access to, your family might need to seek a court order to gain access. A good alternative is a waterproof and fireproof safe in your house.

Also, your attorney or someone you trust should keep signed copies. This would help in case the original is destroyed to establish your intentions; however, the absence of an original will can complicate matters, leaving no guarantee that your estate will be settled as you’d hoped.

  1. How Often Does a Will Need to be Updated?

It’s really up to you – that your will may never need to be updated, or you may choose to update it regularly.

The only version of your will that matters is the one that is most current and valid at the time of your death. 

It may be a good idea to revisit your will at times of major life changes, such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, the death of a beneficiary or executor, a significant purchase or inheritance.

Also, you might still need to name guardians if you have any disabled dependents.

Just to be safe, review your will every two or three years. 

  1. Who Has the Right to Contest My Will?

Contesting a will means challenging the legal validity of all or part of the document, and a beneficiary who feels slighted by the terms of a will could choose to contest it.

Also, depending on the state, a spouse, ex-spouse or child who believes your stated wishes go against local probate laws may contest your will.

 Other reasons a will could be contested include that it wasn’t properly witnessed; you weren’t competent when you signed it; it’s the result of coercion or fraud – and it’s commonly up to a probate judge to settle the dispute. The best defense is always a clearly drafted and validly executed will.

It is never too early or too late to begin thinking about a last will and estate planning, and making one is usually a rather simple and inexpensive process, especially considering that it can give you peace of mind, and save your family time, money and grief.

At the Levin Law Group, our experienced wills and trusts attorneys in New York will assist you in advising and preparing a wide range of estate planning documents.

We invite you to contact us so we can help you take steps to ensure your wishes, interests, and assets are protected. Get a will prepared by a trustworthy trust and wills attorney in NYC.

For an estate lawyer free consultation – contact Levin Law Group today.

 

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Keep These Insurance Tips in Mind When Buying a Home in NYC

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Buying a home is very exciting, but it can also be overwhelming and even nerve-wracking.

When you’re in the market to buy a property, you are already facing so many complex transactions, and it can be easy to disregard the homeowner’s insurance process, especially for first-time buyers.

Your mortgage lender will most likely require you to have homeowner’s insurance, so it’s important to factor it in when calculating monthly mortgage payments.

As vital it is to know your rights and the legal issues involved in residential real estate transactions, such as disclosures, purchase contracts, potential title defects, zoning issues, and taxes, it’s also important to take steps to ensure that, if something happens to your home, you are covered.

Also, New York’s real estate laws and practices in some respects are different than in other states, particularly for co-ops or condos, so it’s wise to get well informed and seek help from qualified professionals.

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Here are some insurance tips to keep in mind when buying a house:

  1. Contact at least three companies to compare coverage.

You are not required to buy from a particular insurance company, so do compare coverage, price and customer reviews. Your home is a big investment and an asset, so shop for value, not necessarily rock-bottom price.

  1. Get adequate coverage.

You may be required to purchase additional insurance, such as flood insurance, so be sure you get the right type and amount of coverage. The most important part is the level of coverage, but avoid paying for more than you need.

  1. Understand the details and terms of your policy.

Before you make a decision, understand what exactly your homeowner’s insurance policy brings, and how all the terms work together. Ask questions, and if needed, seek professional help, to ensure you have the right amount of coverage at the right price!

  1. Escrow your home insurance payments with your mortgage payments.

Most homeowners bundle monthly insurance payments onto their mortgage check. Lenders prefer to set it up so that your escrow account pays for your insurance premiums, as this shows your insurance premiums are being paid, and their investment is well protected. In most cases, you’ll need to pay for one year of home insurance at closing.

  1. Consider raising the deductible.

 Higher deductibles equal reduced premiums: a homeowner willing to take a greater portion of the risk by agreeing to pay a higher deductible in the event of a claim, will pay a much lower premium. Since insurance should only be used for catastrophic events and never for small claims, it makes sense to have a higher deductible.

  1. Consider installing a security system.

While smoke detectors have become a standard safety feature in new homes and should be installed in older homes, also having a security system that is monitored by a central station alarm company or notifies the police directly will typically provide a 5% discount. They may not only save a life but could also reduce the cost of your home insurance.

  1. Bundle Policies and purchase an umbrella policy.

Bundle insurance policies together (auto, business, and life) – it can save you on annual premiums.

One of the most cost effective ways to ensure better insurance coverage for your entire family is to purchase an Umbrella Policy. It will give you greater personal coverage, protection of your secondary home(s), automobile injury protection, and protection from certain lawsuits.

  1. Have the right team of professionals on your side.

Experienced and trustworthy real estate professionals and a seasoned real estate lawyer will certainly help smooth out the process of purchasing a home.

A home is a major investment, and real estate transactions involve real property law, so to make sure your interests and rights are protected – have a real estate lawyer to guide you and help prevent many legal consequences that can happen during the process.

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When searching for top New York real estate law firms, trust the Levin Law Group’s skilled and dependable real estate attorneys to assist you with a wide spectrum of residential and commercial real estate transactions throughout New York State and New Jersey.

Contact Levin Law Group real estate law firm today.

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5 Tips For Buying Your Dream Vacation Home

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While many people dream about getting a place on the water, a quaint cottage or a spacious house, making it a reality will take getting properly informed and acquiring some specific knowledge.

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 If you want to take your dreaming of the beach house on to the next level, these 5 tips will help you with planning:

  1. Do Your Research 

As important to research as the house itself is the area surrounding it. Do you want a house on the beachfront, in the bay, or a few blocks inland?

If possible, rent in the areas you like before you buy, and see what you really like.

Ownership is a year-round commitment, so take some time get to know the area in the off-season, too. It’s important to take everything into consideration in order to make sure you are making the right decision for you.

Also, your lifestyle and hobbies are an important factor when making decisions about your future vacation home.

If you like to sail, you may prefer the bay side of the Hamptons on Long Island, for instance. If you have smaller children, you may wish to consider family beaches that have lifeguards in the summer. Maybe you prefer secluded stretches of sandy beach. If you’re a dog owner, your preference may be on or near one of the many dog beaches.

  1. Get Your Finances In Order

 Whether it’s going to be your second home or vacation home, unless you are purchasing with cash – you’ll need a good credit rating, enough cash flow to comfortably make 2 mortgages, and a cash safety net.

 Next, make sure you get realistic about the cost of acquiring a beach property.

 Some of the things to find out are how easy it will be to maintain the beach home, if it’s in a floodplain, if you need additional insurance, and, how much are you going to use your vacation home, as all this can help you get clearer on what you want, or can, invest in.

  1. Find A Realtor

 Finding an excellent real estate agent is crucial. Even if you have a good friend or a relative who is a realtor but not proficient in beach and vacation homes – do yourself a big favor and seek someone who is experienced.

 Once you have your finances in order and have an idea of where you would like to look, let your realtor assist you in the complex process of finding and securing the best possible option for you.

  1. Do Your Due Diligence

 Before you sign anything, seek help from other experts, such as a home inspector.

Get an inspection from a licensed home inspector who’s familiar with beach properties, as they can see even the smaller things that could be a red flag.

Consult an environmental company to confirm ecological or environmental provisions designed to protect the home. Find out about development plans in the community. Some neighborhoods limit what you can do or spend on your home renovations.

Or, if the house is lost to the forces of Mother Nature, could you rebuild? Some coastal laws do not allow rebuilding of destroyed homes.

  1. Protect Your Interests And Investments

 Once you find your beach property, take steps to ensure your investment is properly handled and your interests are protected by having a real estate attorney by your side.

Your attorney will negotiate on your behalf, and make you aware of any legal particulars regarding real estate in the area of your vacation home. Your real estate lawyer will also review and explain the mortgage commitment before you sign it and get locked in.

 During such an important and complex deal, your real estate lawyer is your safety net that protects against a possibly bad deal and provides peace of mind.

As a buyer, it’s important to know that your attorney is the only person legally bound to look after your interest.

A real estate lawyer with expertise and experience will look out for your legal interests and ensure a transaction proceeds smoothly.

At Levin Law Group, your trusted real estate law firm, our competent, experienced real estate lawyers will assist individuals and business entities in wide-ranging residential and commercial real estate transactions throughout New York State.  

Are you ready to transform your dream into reality?

Contact our real estate attorney, and let us assist you in the process of getting your dream vacation home today.

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Why Home Inspection Is So Important When Buying a Home

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A home is a major investment, and a valuable and complex asset. Real estate transactions also involve real property law, and having a real estate lawyer to guide you and protect your interests and rights can prevent many legal consequences that can happen during the process of buying or selling a home.

One of the important steps in a home purchase process is inspection of the prospective home to avoid a costly mistake of buying a property in need of major repairs that would be pricey to perform. Most contracts state that the premises are sold “as is”, thus it is imperative to know what you are buying.

A professional home inspection should be performed as soon as you are ready to put in your offer for a particular home. It’s an inexpensive way to discover the general condition of a home, and find out if it’s truly your “dream home”.

A certified home inspector will assist you in understanding exactly what you’re about to acquire, so until you have the satisfactory results in your hands – do not close.

A home may look healthy and even move in ready, but a home inspection can uncover issues that are not noticeable to the buyer’s eye. You are making a big investment, so you want to know the shape of the electrical wiring, plumbing, roofing, insulation, HVAC, and structure of the home you are considering.

Upon having a certified home inspector conduct a thorough inspection of the property, you’ll receive a report listing any improvements or repairs that may be necessary to bring the home up to current standards.

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As the buyer, you may be able to use the home inspection report as a great tool during purchasing negotiations with the seller. If issues were found with the prospective home, you could negotiate a credit with the sellers, have the seller pay for repairs before the closing, purchase the home as is, or walk away from the purchase if the problems seem too big.

There are numerous legal questions that need to be addressed in the contract of sale. If the property was altered or an addition made – was it done lawfully? Are there any legal consequences if the closing does not take place? What if the property has termites, asbestos, radon or lead based paint; or, what if it’s near a hazardous waste dumpsite?

Addressing and rectifying any legal issues that arise during a real estate transaction will save you time, future expenses and hassle.

The Levin Law Group’s skilled and trusted real estate attorneys will assist you with a wide spectrum of residential and commercial real estate transactions throughout New York State and New Jersey.

 We work with Unity Home Inspectors, licensed and experienced home inspectors specializing in performing home inspections in the 5 boroughs of New York City and providing customers with a platinum level of service.

 Unity Home Inspectors also help sellers review the property disclosure statement, transferring the liability from the homeowner to the inspector, and point out flaws that the homeowner can fix before their buyers bring their own inspectors, potentially saving time and money down the road.

Upon a thorough inspection of the house, a report will be generated within 24 hours that will explain in layman terms the condition of the home. Reports are ready after the inspection. Unity Home Inspectors use a special industrial grade infrared camera that can detect moisture damage, mold, pipe blockages, broken wood studs behind sheetrock, electrical problems, and other issues invisible to the naked eye.

A home inspection may be the most important piece of due diligence you can do on the physical structure of a home – and the one that’s most likely to provide you with leverage during pre-closing negotiations.

To ensure you have a seasoned real estate attorney by your side to help protect your interests during a real estate transaction – contact Levin Law Group real estate law firm today.

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Here Are The Best Ways To Save For A Down Payment

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Buying a home – one of the most exciting events in your life, and, probably, the biggest investment you’ll ever make!

It’s also most likely the purchase you’ll be paying off for years in the form of a mortgage, so how much down payment you can offer can make a significant difference to how much your monthly payments will be.

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There certainly are loans that require a small down payment; however, most banks are looking for closer to 20% down. This could mean that a homebuyer needs $80,000 or even more for a house that costs $400,000!

Now, how do you come up with thousands of dollars for a down payment if you already have financial responsibilities, such as rent, credit card or student loans, or car payments?

We’ve gathered some useful info on saving for a down payment – the smart way:

 

  1. Get Prequalified For Your Target Amount

Before you start saving for a down payment, establish how much you’ll need to save.

A mortgage lender will let you know how much you can qualify for, based on your financial circumstances. A general rule of thumb is – your monthly home expense should not exceed 28% of your stable monthly income, and to get a realistic picture of how much you can afford when buying a house, add the down payment to this amount.

 

  1. Determine Your Timeframe

When you plan on buying a house, among other factors, will determine how much you need to save per year, or per month – the shorter your timeframe is, the higher your annual savings goal will be.

As we already discussed, you can certainly put down less, but then you will likely be paying a higher rate, which means higher monthly payments and paying more overall during the life of your loan. Also, if you have any kind of credit issues, it may be a challenge to get a mortgage at all.

So, your best bet is to build your down payment nest egg.

Some financial planners recommend that if you’re planning on buying a home in 2 – 5 years out, you could look into investing your money in this manner: 50% in longer-term bond funds or individual bonds, 40% in short-term bonds that mature in 1-3 years and the remaining 10% in cash – keeping in mind that if interest rates go up after you buy a bond, its value decreases.

Another option is to invest in a certificate of deposit, or CD, if you agree to keep the money in the account for a longer period, or pay a penalty if you withdraw sooner. Your earnings would be more than from a savings account, but still relatively low – about 1.5% on a three-year CD.

Maybe a better way to improve the rate of return and to help mitigate any interest rate risks would be to invest the money in laddered bonds or CDs.

Now, if you plan to buy a home in a year or so, financial experts recommend the money should be kept completely liquid, so you can easily access it at any time. 

The best way to go about that – place your money in a good old-fashioned savings account, the one with a higher yield.

 

  1. Make Room In Your Budget

If you need to save thousands of dollars per year, you need to make some room in your budget – either by earning additional income, cutting back on expenses, or both.

Rent is likely taking up over 30% of the money you make, and maybe you can try to negotiate a better rate with your landlord, move to a cheaper location, or downsize. Depending on where you live, going from a 2-bedroom to a 1-bedroom place can lower your rent by 25 to 30%.

Or, consider having a roommate (or two) – sharing a home isn’t just for twenty-something; in fact, the percentage of adults living with someone other than a spouse or partner continues to rise.

Next, look at your expenses – not only will it help save you money for your down payment, but it will also prepare you for managing the tighter budget once you become a homeowner.

 

  1. Set Up An Automated Savings Plan

Not many people save money by nature, and it’s always smart to automate the savings process. This can start with your payroll, so allocate a certain percentage or dollar amount to go directly into a savings or money market account dedicated for your down payment.

Start small, maybe cutting your income by 2%, and you may not even notice that it’s not in your paycheck. Ask your payroll department to set a fixed amount to automatically go from your paycheck into a designated savings account – and you won’t have the temptation and chance to spend the money for other purposes.

Another excellent way to save money for a down payment on a house is by banking any bonuses, wins, or extras, such as income-tax refunds, gifts, bonuses or large commission checks, or even money from the sale of personal assets.

One thing to remember is to make sure that you have an emergency fund, in case you need a major car repair, replacement of a car, medical expenses that cannot be covered, or other unforeseen expenses. Also, take into consideration all your predictable expenses.

The great thing is that such practices will also prepare you for homeownership, as once you buy your home, you’ll have predictable and unpredictable expenses and you’ll need to budget for them.

 

  1. Gifts

If possible, would you consider asking your family, maybe even friends, to contribute to your down payment?

According to the National Association of Realtors, 27% of first-time buyers in 2013 received gift funds from a relative or friend to help make a down payment, and the number is up from previous years.

Here’s what the 2015 annual gift tax exclusion law says: any individual can gift any other individual $14,000 per year tax-free. For instance, each of your parents could give you 14K and 14K to your spouse, which totals $56,000 – that’s a significant amount, and may be more than you even need.

We hope that these tips can help you with planning on how to save for the down payment on your new home – happy house hunting!

The Levin Law Group’s real estate lawyers represent clients in all areas of New York, Long Island, Westchester county and upstate NY – trust our expertise and dedication to help you protect your rights and interests.

Get in touch with a real estate attorney today and learn more about how our legal services can help you.

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