What role does a real estate agent play?

Briefly, a real estate agent is the liaison between buyers and sellers. Real estate agents ascribe to two basic factions, namely: selling brokers and buying brokers. Selling brokers, on the seller’s behalf, strive to find the best available deal for the property in question. For this, they receive a commission based on the final sale. Conversely, a buyer’s broker can be retained to help a prospective buyer find the most attractively priced pieces of real estate. The buyer’s broker will also negotiate with lending banks and seller’s attorneys on the buyer’s behalf. Terms and conditions for such brokers should be agreed upon beforehand, with the broker normally accepting a percentage of any eventual transactional costs.

What is title insurance, and what sort of title forms are available?

Title insurance is a form of insurance meant to protect an owner’s or lender’s financial interest in real estate properties. When two or more people enter into a living situation, a title’s ownership claim is spread across all residents. Depending on the circumstances of the living engagement, different titles are available for use. A joint tenancy gives both (or all) tenants equal, undivided interest / share in the property. Commonly used by husband and wife, joint tenancy incorporates a policy known as survivorship, wherein, when one tenant passes away the surviving member absorbs the interest of the deceased. Tenancy-in-common, on the other hand, is a less formal agreement where a property’s interest is divided amongst all tenants. In the case of death in these arrangements, the interest held by the deceased will be passed on to their next of kin or the heirs stipulated in their wills.

What is the difference between a condominium and a co-op?

The difference between condominiums and co-ops involves the degree of investment on the level of the inhabitants. A condominium is a housing tenure in which an owner holds the title to a property and all its incorporated units, though each subdivision is inhabited by separate lessees. Individual tenants in these cases are often provided with the communal use of a buildings stairways, elevators, etc. but have no stake in the property in a financial sense nor are they tasked with maintenance or upkeep of the grounds outside their own unit or beyond their own volition. Those involved in a co-op, on the other hand, have a mutual financial interest in the property.

What is the difference between a mortgage policy and an owner’s policy?

Essentially, a mortgage policy protects the lender whereas an owner’s policy protects the purchaser from instances of fraud, title defects, and other previously undiscovered liens or encumbrances.

What is the difference between a binder and a contract of sale?

A binder is the precursor to the contract of sale. When a buyer shows interest in a particular property, he may make a verbal agreement, known as a binder, with the seller. Normally, there is an obligatory deposit involved when agreeing to a binder. This deposit is sometimes, but not always, refundable. The binder is a declaration of interest and the deposit generally ensures that the seller will refrain from selling this given property to other interested buyers. In this way, the binder serves as forerunner to the eventual contract of sale.

Do you recommend a home inspection?

While a home inspection does normally involve a fee, the cost may prove highly worthwhile. A home inspector will not weigh in on the investment value of a purchase, but they can attest to the soundness of the property involved. Meaning: any undisclosed problems in the infrastructure will be brought to light. Any homeowner who has forewent a home inspection only to later find out that they’ve inherited leaky plumbing, faulty electrical wiring, or other residential maladies will attest to the importance of foresight! Hiring an inspector to root out preexisting problems will allow a prospective buyer to seek repairs from the current holder before a contract is signed.

What is a deed?

The deed is a legal, written instrument that signifies ownership of some sort. It is oftentimes a document that represents a transfer in ownership of rights, interests and properties. While the precise language of deeds vary by state, the pertinent information typical of most deeds includes the name (or names) of the buyer(s), the seller(s) and a brief, legal summary of the property in question. Sometimes, buyers and sellers are referred to as grantees and grantors. A legal team is often required when drafting legal deeds.

What are the most common forms of deeds?

The most common forms of deeds are as follows:

  • Grant deed
  • Quitclaim deed
  • General Warranty Deed
  • Special Warranty Deed
  • Grant Bargain Sale Deed

The functions, benefits and drawbacks inherent to these deed types varies. A quitclaim deed provides no warranties whatsoever, whereas warranty deeds protect buyers from any previously undiscovered defects.

What does a closing entail, and what are the closing costs?

At a closing, the ownership of a property is officially transferred. All parties involved in the transaction are expected to attend this meeting. All pertinent documentation will officially be reviewed, verified and, once unanimously agreed upon, signed during this summit. This will authorize the transaction. Banks will come and present mortgage policy and financing documents to be reviewed and signed. The particularities vary across homes, condominiums and co-ops. Legal staff can help clarify the details. If necessary, new stock certificates will be issued. Eventually, the title form will be presented to the buyer, signifying the close of the deal. Closing costs encapsulate all of the various fees incurred during the buying process. These fees also vary case-by-case, but generally include escrow costs, broker fees, insurance-related costs, etc. Most of these costs are standard. A legal team can also help clarify the fine points of all closing costs.

About Us

New York Real Estate AttorneysServicing the greater New York area, the main goal here at Kaplan, Kaplan & DiTrapani, LLP is to expedite mortgage-related transactions of all types. Our skilled team of attorneys have experience with refinances, loans, and consolidations- but we can also provide support and impart valuable advice on a wide range of other topics. Whether it be helping borrowers apply for CEMA or troubleshooting a binder agreement, our number one priority is being there for our clients.

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