3 Things to Know When Buying a Home in New York: Real Estate Law Basics

Buying a home in New York, or anywhere in the country for that matter, can be a daunting and difficult process, even for the most experienced home buyers. The buying and selling of property in New York is governed by a complicated set of real estate laws. As such, it is prudent to always consult with an experienced New York real estate attorney when buying a home. In any event, all homebuyers should have basic understanding regarding key parts of the home buying process

Basics of Buying a Home in New York

Seller’s Duty to Complete Disclosure Form

In the past, sellers had little obligation to disclose defects in a house to a buyer. This was known as “caveat emptor,” which means buyer beware. Fortunately for buyers today, New York has created exceptions to this rule that minimize its harmful effect on buyers. What’s more, under the Property Condition Disclosure Act, sellers must complete a standard form that requires the seller to make disclosures regarding legal, financial, and physical characteristics of the home. Sellers, however, may choose not to complete the form, but if they do so, they must pay a $500 credit to the buyers at closing.

Role of Real Estate Broker

The role of the real estate broker is to help sellers sell their homes and buyers buy their homes. Brokers for the buyers and sellers are often responsible for the communications regarding the transaction. Importantly, real estate brokers are fiduciaries, and they owe a heightened degree of duty to their client, either the buyer or seller. For example, a broker for the seller must disclose what is known about the property to the buyer. And the broker for the buyer is required to learn about the property and to discover relevant facts for the buyer.

It should be noted that sometimes an individual will act as both a broker for the buyer and the seller. This is known as dual agency. Buyers should be aware of dual agency arrangements because they can create conflicts of interests between the duty to disclose from the seller and the duty to inquire from the buyer.

An Informed Buyer is a Smart Buyer

It should go without saying that an informed buyer is a smart buyer. The more information that a buyer has regarding a home, the better position the buyer is in to negotiate the purchase of a home. Every buyer should obtain an appraisal report for the prospective property. The report will provide the buyer with the market value of the property. It is important not to simply accept the appraisal report provided by the mortgage lender. Instead, the buyer should obtain an independent report from an independent appraiser. In lieu of a report, a buyer can search county records to see what similar properties have been selling for.

Furthermore, every buyer should obtain a home inspection. This will allow the buyer to see if the home will need minor or significant repairs. The information in a home inspection report can be used to negotiate a reduction in price with the seller or to obtain a credit. A home inspection report, which may cost as little as a few hundred dollars, may be able to help a buyer save thousands of dollars.

Contact a New York Real Estate Attorney Today

If you have questions regarding the home buying process, it is an important to reach out to an experienced New York real estate attorney today for advice. Joshua Just is an experienced New York real estate lawyer who can help you avoid many of the legal and practical pitfalls that individuals experienced when buying a home in New York.

Leave a Reply