New York Real Estate Ownership Guide

This article is designed to be a roadmap for the first time homebuyer or seller. Throughout, I’ll guide you through the many steps of purchasing or selling your property and explain to you in the process how to avoid the most common mistakes. You will also learn both the legal and psychological problems often encountered.

For most people, buying (or selling) a home is one of the biggest part of living the “American dream”. It’s also probably the biggest investments they will ever make. Not surprising then, that many find this experience to be very exciting but also worrisome at the same time. Achieving the final transaction and transfer of funds for the property (referred to as the “closing”) can leave many home owners feeling exhausted, even depressed. The same can be said for buyers. However, if the process is done correctly, it can also be both interesting and exciting for everybody involved. The ultimate outcome depends on many factors: time, energy needed to devote to the transaction, thoughtfulness and patience. All these traits are included in the process, and all can have an impact on your bottom line.

That’s why preparation is key in any successful transaction. The process, complicated by multiple transactions and waiting periods, can be quite confusing. Real estate transactions require expertise. Those wanting total control of the transaction with a do-it-yourself attitude can make many costly mistakes. So unless buyers and sellers have a solid background in Real Estate, they stand to lose thousands of dollars in any given transaction.

Saving on New York Real Estate Attorney Fees

Trying to save a few extra dollars on legal fees may sound like a nice idea, especially for those with large down payments. But this strategy may backfire. You may end up being penny-wise, but broke in the long run. There are many detailed procedures involved in the purchase process that the vast majority of consumers may overlook.

In one of the biggest purchases of your life, it’s simply not the time to “bargain shop”. Remember the key criteria: if you can’t afford to see the big picture in the transaction you probably aren’t ready to close the deal. The amount of legal fees charged should not be the deciding factor in hiring a particular New York Real Estate Lawyer. You retain a New York Real Estate Lawyer because you trust that they will represent your best interest in the transaction. The bottom line is that you want a New York Real Estate Lawyer you can trust, if trust becomes an issue you are well advised to seek another New York Real Estate Lawyer, no matter how low the fees are. For the most part, a New York Real Estate Lawyers aim to satisfy their clients and keep that satisfaction within the legal bounds of the law –all at the same time. The happier their clients, the busier the New York Real Estate Attorney will be with future clients. So it makes common sense as much as it makes dollars sense to retain a New York Real Estate Lawyer who aim is to achieve the client’s goal in the real estate transaction.
Real Estate transactions involve use of standard legal language. It is quite understandable then, if a buyer or seller do not understand the terms used in the transaction. First-time homebuyers have the worst experience. That is the reason why it makes sense to hire a New York Real Estate Lawyer who can represent your interest and can help you avoid pitfalls and unnecessary problems.
If not detected prior to closing, once a problem occurs, it can take time and money to correct the situation. An attorney with experience in New York real estate law can help steer a buyer or seller away from costly mistakes.

What kind of home fits my needs?

When buying a home, you have to determine what property will fit your needs. Picking the right kind of property to purchase requires careful planning, organization, and sacrifice. Since most people don’t have the time, real estate brokers can be extremely helpful in letting you understand the many issues you might encounter. The questions involved can be overwhelming. What matters need further inquiry? Which homes come with bad neighbors? There are many matters which you need to inquire about when you look at different properties that interests you. However, some issues are common to most real estate purchases. A simple tip is to determine what borough you like to live. If you plan on living in Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island, Manhattan or Long Island, you may want to deal with a broker in that borough.

Coop or Condos?

Cooperatives are the most popular property purchased in New York City. One reason for this is a trend away from expense-ridden properties where foreclosures are common. Another reason for coop popularity is convenience. Deals can be less expensive (about half the price of a condo) and may involve less paperwork in the closing. Less financial stress and fewer headaches might sound good, right? But what most buyers don’t know is that when you buy a co-op, you’re NOT buying the physical apartment. Actually, you’re buying “shares” of a corporation that owns the building which contains the co-op on its land. Also keep in mind that, just like any other company, a co-op has officers such as a president, a vice-president and a treasurer. And just like any other company they’re responsible for the well being of the coop. If the coop suffers a financial meltdown, you could lose your apartment investment altogether.

What happens if I do decide to buy a coop?

You receive a stock certificate and a proprietary lease.

The co-op requires that each coop owner pay a “maintenance fee”. If you own a condo, you’ll be paying a “common charge.” Usually, the monthly fee paid by a shareholder is almost double the fee paid by condo owners.

Sometimes a co-op only “owns” the improvements, and some other company or organization owns the land. This form of co-op is not the normal situation, but it does exist. Your New York Real Estate Attorney should be able to assist you in determining if you are purchasing such a property.

Where does the maintenance fee go? How is the money spent?

When an “entity” (i.e. some organization or other company) holds a mortgage of the co-op, the coop corporation must pay a monthly mortgage payment to the bank. The “maintenance fee” charged to coop owners helps the corporation offset this cost. By charging each shareholder a charge per share the “maintenance fee” helps pay the city taxes on the property as a whole and pay for the expenses in maintaining the property (such as the superintendent or doorman) The “common charge” for a condo helps offset the expenses associated with the maintenance of the building. Elevators, painting, cleanliness and any landscaping all require funding not to mention the common areas of the residential unit.

It is important to note that the monthly fee is not fixed. Just like rent, it can be increased. In buying a condo, however, you are buying a portion of the physical building in which the apartment is located. You then own part of the building and will receive a deed to the property that shows that you are the legal owner. The common charges for condos usually tend to be stable. Most co-ops require that a seller receive approval by the board before attempting to sell. Likewise, the buyer must also be approved by the board to make sure that the buyer will be a “responsible” co-op owner. One exception to this situation is when the coop has a special status as being a “sponsor unit”. That means that when the building was converted into a co-op, the co-op conversion plans allowed the sponsor of the building to reserve the right to sell unsold shares without board approval. If you are purchasing the co-op from the original sponsor, then most likely you will not need to get board approval. The same applies to subletting the unit. In most cases you’ll need permission. In some cases, purchasing the unit from the original sponsor, may entitle you to the same rights and privileges as the sponsor.

Recently after the cost of fuel skyrocketed, many co-ops and condos monthly fees increased. So when buying a coop or condo make sure that you understand the financial future implications. Ask for the financial information before signing on the bottom line.

Should I buy a single or multi-family residence?

One of the most common dilemmas encountered when purchasing a home is whether to buy a “single-family home” or “muti-family home”. Common sense dictates that a single-family home will cost you significantly less than a multi-family home, and will appreciate accordingly. What are the advantages? The peace that comes with it is enticing for some. Not having to deal with renting to strangers, and the headaches of hiring (or being) a landlord. However, on the other side of that argument, a multi-family home can be a financial plus: the rental income helps with the monthly mortgage payments and makes ownership less financially stressful.

How can a real estate agents help me?

Normally the first person you may have direct contact with in the purchase or sale of land or residence, is a real estate agent. Most people use them rather than do it themselves. The agent works for his or her supervisor, and they are called “brokers”. The kind of relationship you have with the agent can have a major impact on how well you as a buyer or seller, understand the initial process, and transaction. Two important points: Agents can normally provide good advice and suggestions regarding your purchase or sale. Since they’re well-educated in both the property markets and their field, they are can give you past performance for a particular property. However, although the agent may seem to work for you, unless expressly contracted for, they normally work for the seller!

What is a Binder? Why is it important?

A binder (otherwise known as an “offer to purchase”) is the first document secured by a minimal money deposit. You will normally sign a binder at the moment that you decide to make the seller an offer to purchase. This tells the seller that you are serious about making the purchase. Once the Binder Agreement is executed, the real estate broker or agent will present it to the seller. If accepted, the property will no longer be shown to potential buyers. It is important to note that the binder, unlike a contract of sale, is subject to a time limit. Unless the binder details the money to be refunded, it will be forfeited under most circumstances.

What should I know about the “Contract of Sale”?

The contract of sale is the first formal stage of the buying and selling process. When you have retained a New York Real Estate Lawyer and have made an acceptable offer, at this point in time, you and the seller will sign a contract of sale. The seller’s New York Real Estate Attorney will normally draft the contract and then the buyer’s New York Real Estate Attorney will review the contract to make sure that you are protected from any future problems (both legal and residential issues).

It’s also important to note that when the buyer signs the contract, a “Down Payment” is given to the seller for the seller’s New York Real Estate Attorney to hold in a special account called an “Escrow”. The seller’s New York Real Estate Attorney is required by ethical rules to do so. However, not to worry: the entire amount will of course, be credited to the buyer and applied to the final outstanding balance at “closing.”

The biggest mistake a buyer or seller can make is signing a contract of sale before getting adequate legal representation. A contract of sale is an agreement to purchase and sell the property. Once it’s signed, it becomes a legal document. If you change your mind and want to change the terms of the agreement or if you want out of the transaction altogether, then you will find yourself in an extremely frustrating legal bind. That’s why an experienced New York Real Estate Lawyer is necessary throughout the process, especially at the beginning stages. The contract of sale dictates exactly how the transaction will proceed. It says how payments will be made and collected, and contains all the important details. Tell your New York Real Estate Lawyer every detail which you think is important and essential to you intensions. For example, maybe you are selling another property while simultaneously buying a home. Since the sale of your property is a condition, that condition is a major detail that you should tell your New York Real Estate Lawyer since, the other “party” may have not accepted your offer had they known such a condition.

Another issue that sometimes comes up is the issue of occupancy. Generally a house is sold vacant. However, if you would like to keep the existing tenants, it is a good idea to tell your New York Real Estate Lawyer (assuming it’s not a new construction), and that by itself can save you time and hassle in the process of renting the property later on.

As a seller, should I have my home inspected?

Home inspections can sometimes make or break the deal. A New York Real Estate Lawyer can secure a condition in the contract of sale which allows the buyer to refuse to purchase the property if the home inspector determines that the structure is not physically sound. Termite problems or signs of other wood-destroying insects are great reasons for a buyer to opt out of the contract. In such cases the seller usually return the buyer’s down payment and everybody walks away from the table. Home inspections are relatively convenient, inexpensive and will save you a lot of time and money.

Finding a New York Real Estate Lawyer?

When looking for legal representation, most importantly, you want a New York Real Estate Attorney whom you feel comfortable with. If you don’t feel comfortable with a particular New York Real Estate Attorney, chances are that you will not have a good working relationship.

An experienced New York Real Estate Lawyer, who you feel comfortable with, can be greatly beneficial in explaining and reducing the mystery out of buying or selling real estate in New York. Your New York Real Estate Lawyer can review and prepare the contract of sale, order title insurance, and conduct key parts of the transaction. Making sure the property you are purchasing has no undisclosed liens. If they do exist, your New York Real Estate Lawyer can take care that they will be satisfied prior to the closing.

The last thing you need is to have doubts and questions about your transaction. You want to make sure that after all the documents are signed and notarized, that you understand what just happened and that you are confident that everything was done correctly.

When should I close the deal?

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Real Estate Leads 101 – Are You Copping Out of Following Up

Working with a lead generation company has given me interesting insight into both real estate leads and agents. I dealt with both ends: the consumer and the agents themselves, and my job was to make them both happy. Yeah right. Easier said than done.

The consumer side is easy – real estate leads want a home value, they want information on the market, they want a real estate agent and we get them that. The real estate agents? Well that’s another story – they pretty much wanted everything under the sun when it comes to real estate leads. They wanted to be handed people ready to list their homes with them asap, with no work involved on the agent’s part. They want listings, not real estate leads.

Well, if I could provide that consistently, all the time, I’d either have a multi-million dollar company, or I’d be doing real estate full time myself. Get this through your heads agents: there is no magic service out there that will hand you listings for a low fee. Instead, these services provide you with real estate leads and it is YOUR job to turn them into clients. Got that? Real estate leads + you = clients!

YOU went to the classes, YOU studied up on sales and marketing techniques and YOU printed up all kinds of trinkets with your name and logo on them for your real estate leads. Ergo, YOU must convince your real estate leads to work with you. And if you’re not converting them, maybe you need to take a look at your own methods, rather than immediately blame the source of the real estate leads.

By now, I’ve probably heard every excuse under the sun as to why online real estate leads are bad or bogus. And that’s all it is, an excuse, a cop out to make you feel better about not being able to turn your real estate leads into listings. That being said, here are the top 5 cop-outs I’ve heard over the years about following up with real estate leads and my responses to them.

1. I’m a new agent and no one wants to use a new agent.

Well, how do they know you’re a new agent? Did you announce it the second you spoke with your real estate leads? You don’t need to tell all your real estate leads that you’re new. If they ask, tell them, and be honest, but don’t just volunteer the information. And how to you know “no one” wants to use a new agent – sounds like a gross generalization to me. You won’t know until you get out there and try – convince your real estate leads that to be new means you’re cutting edge, the best thing out there right now, show them what an expert you’ve become, even if you’re new to the business. Just TRY to convert them. Assuming from the start your real estate leads won’t want to use you because you’re new doesn’t even give you a chance.

2. Some real estate leads are on the Do Not Call Registry.

So? There’s no such thing as a Do Not Knock list. If your real estate leads are on the DNC Registry and you feel THAT uncomfortable risking a call, you should have your butt in the car, directions in your hand and preparing yourself mentally for your introduction once you knock at their door. And actually, as per the basic rules of the Do Not Call Registry, if a consumer on the lists makes an inquiry (which is what online real estate leads are!), you can contact them for up to 3 months after the inquiry. So you’ve got 3 months to get them on the phone, after that, there’s still always that door! Don’t use the DNC as a cop-out method with real estate leads. It’s a flimsy excuse.

3. It’s unprofessional to go knock on someone’s door.

This is the line I usually got after suggesting stopping by the property. My thing is, who said so? Who told you it is unprofessional to go visit your real estate leads’ homes and drop off the information they requested? That is a matter of opinion and as long as your real estate leads don’t think it’s unprofessional, you’re good. And by showing initiative and going out of your way to meet your real estate leads, you may have just earned a client for life.

4. These real estate leads are too far from my area, or it’s in a very bad part of town.

This is probably my favorite cop out, because it just sounds ridiculous to me. If your real estate leads are too far, why did you sign up for that area? Or, if you are getting some real estate leads out of your area, how far? Most of the time, agents complain about having to drive 30 minutes away. To me, 30 minutes of my time is DEFINITELY worth the fat commission check I could get. And if some real estate leads are too far, haven’t you EVER heard of a REFERRAL COMMISSION? Find an great agent in the lead’s area and send it on over. That way you’ll still get a portion of the commission AND you’ve saved 30 precious minutes of your time.

When real estate leads are in a bad part of town, it usually means it’s a very low-value home and is located in either a ghetto or backwater somewhere. It pisses me off when real estate agents say that the home isn’t worth their time. Guess what buddy? When you got your license, you gained knowledge that others don’t have, but will need at some point. You should be willing and open to share this with your real estate leads, no matter what the economic status of their home and income is. If you don’t want to help them, no one can force you, but you are a BAD agent if you’re not at least willing to find someone who will your real estate leads.

5. If they wanted to be contacted, they would have given all their correct contact information.

This is a tough one, because on one level I do agree with this SOMEWHAT. Real estate leads who give a good name, number, address and email seems to be more approachable than real estate leads that have fake names, or fake numbers, etc. But again, this statement is really a matter of opinion. You have NO idea what’s going through the consumer’s head when they filled out their information. Maybe they’re not technologically savvy and thought if they put their phone number over the Web, everybody would get it. Maybe they mistyped something. Maybe they don’t want to be hassled daily by telemarketer calls but DO still want the information. Until you actually touch base with your real estate leads, you have no idea where their head is at. What would hurt worse, getting a phone slammed in your ear, or missing out on a $15,000 commission because you THOUGHT they didn’t need anything since they gave a wrong phone number?

These 5 objections are really just cop-outs and excuses in disguise for not following up with your real estate leads. And pretty flimsy ones at that. If these are your objections to your real estate leads, you need to stop sitting around thinking up objections and just get out there and GO. Start contacting those real estate leads, start making phone calls and sending postcards. You may not convert them all, but I guarantee if you put your all into following up with every single one of your real estate leads no matter what obje

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