Step-By-Step Guide: For Buyers
The real estate purchase process in New York can be very complicated – especially for first time homebuyers. Below is our Step-by-Step Guide for purchasers of real estate. Please note that every deal is unique and the process below is just a general overview. Feel free to Contact Us with further questions.
STEP 1 – MAKE AN OFFER
The first step in any real estate transaction is to find the property of your choice and make a verbal offer. Under New York Law, a contract for the sale for real property must be in writing; thus a verbal offer creates no binding obligation upon either party. If your offer is accepted, move on to Step 2. If your offer is rejected, either make a counter-offer or move on to a different property.
Do not put anything in writing, as this may, unintentionally, create a binding contract. Oftentimes the real estate agent will request that you sign an “offer” or even a “contract.” Do not do so without speaking to a Real Estate Attorney.
Feel free to Contact Us and we will make an offer on your behalf.
STEP 2 – FIND A REAL ESTATE LAWYER
Once your offer is accepted, it is time to hire a real estate lawyer. In New York, buyers and sellers of real estate almost always retain an attorney; the attorney’s job is to guide the parties and handle the legal paperwork.
When looking for an attorney, make sure the attorney has experience in real estate closings. The staff at the Levin Law Group handles HUNDREDS of real estate closings per year and are well qualified to represent you.
Please do not hesitate to Contact Us at any time.
STEP 3 – GET A HOME INSPECTION
Almost every contract provides that the seller is selling the house in “as is” condition. That means that you, as the buyer, will assume the responsibility for any repairs that need to be made. As such, it is important to know the condition of the property before signing the contract.
If you are buying a house, it is highly recommended that you hire a licensed home inspector to inspect the house for any defects. The inspector should also search for termites and other wood-destroying insects.
If you are buying a coop or a condo, an inspection is optional. If you do decide to get an inspection, the inspector should also search for bed bugs, which can be a big problem in coop and condo apartments.
If the inspection reveals any defects, there are four (4) options:
- Ask the seller to reduce the Purchase Price,
- Ask the seller to make repairs prior to Closing,
- You agree to accept the house “as is” and make the repairs yourself, or
- Withdraw your offer.
If the seller agrees to make the repairs, we will insert language into the contract obligating the seller to do so prior to closing.
STEP 4 – REVIEW & SIGN THE CONTRACT AND PAY THE DOWN PAYMENT
It is customary for the seller’s attorney to prepare the Contract of Sale. Once our office receives the contract, we will call you to schedule an appointment to go over it in detail; teleconference is available if you are unable to come in for an appointment. After our discussion, we make any necessary changes and you sign four (4) copies of the contract. At this time, you also write a check for the down payment.
We mail all four (4) copies of the contract, along with your down payment check to the seller’s attorney. Assuming the seller agrees to our changes, he/she signs all four (4) copies of the contract and mails us back two (2) fully executed copies.
Upon receipt of the fully executed contract, we forward a copy to you so that you may begin your mortgage application process.
Please note that the down payment can range from 2% of the Purchase Price to 10% of the purchase price. Our job is to ensure that your down payment is protected if you cannot get a mortgage.
STEP 5 – SUBMIT YOUR MORTGAGE APPLICATION
If you are obtaining a mortgage, submitting your loan application in a timely manner is the first critical step to having your mortgage approved. The loan application cannot be officially submitted until a fully executed contract is provided to the bank.
Selecting the right lender can have a crucial effect on your closing costs and closing date. Please ask us regarding our experiences with particular lenders.
STEP 6 – SUBMIT YOUR BOARD PACKAGE
(COOPS & SOME CONDOS)
If you are purchasing a coop or a condo that requires board approval, you must fill out and submit a board application (usually with a processing fee) in order for the board to approve or deny the purchase.
Many boards will not review an application until the Purchaser has received a commitment letter from the bank. This often delays the process if your lender works slowly, which unfortunately, is often the case.
STEP 7 – SCHEDULE A CLOSING
In order to schedule a closing, the following conditions must be satisfied:
- Your lender gives us a “clear to close,”
- You are approved by the coop or condo board (if applicable),
- The seller has cleared all title issues, and
- All parties are available.
Once the above conditions are met, we will schedule a closing at a time convenient for all parties involved.
STEP 8 – INSPECT THE PROPERTY (AGAIN)
Prior to attending the closing, you should schedule a “walk-through” to inspect the property. During the walk-through, you must ensure that the property is in the same condition that it was in when the contract was signed.
STEP 9 – ATTEND THE CLOSING
The Closing is a “meeting” where the deed (or stock certificate for a coop) and other legal documents are given to the buyer and money is given to the seller.
The following individuals usually attend the closing: (1) the Buyer, (2) the Seller, (3) the Buyer’s attorney, (4) the Seller’s attorney, (5) the Buyer’s Bank’s attorney, (6) the Seller’s Bank’s attorney (in Coop transactions only), (7) the Title Closer (in non Coop transactions only), (8) the real estate brokers and (9) the Managing Agent (in Coop transactions only).
The Closing customarily takes place either at the Seller’s attorney’s office or at the Buyer’s Bank’s Attorney’s office. In Coop transactions, the Closing always takes place at the office of the Managing Agent.
After the Closing, you become the official owner of the property.