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Why Do I Need a Brooklyn Real Estate Attorney
written by Aaron Isquith
There are probably as many lawyer jokes as there are lawyers. But a real estate transaction is no laughing matter, and it’s good to know that you have a Brooklyn real estate attorney on your side.
A Team of Professionals
Once you’ve made the decision to purchase, your team begins to form, with each member a specialist in their respective field. The mortgage banker/broker is responsible for the loan pre-approval, appraisal, loan commitment and final loan approval. The Brooklyn real estate attorney reviews the legal papers, negotiates and reviews the contract, and represents his or her client during all aspects of the transaction. The seller’s team was formed when they listed the property for sale.
The real estate professional (the agent or broker) coordinates and facilitates the flow of information and documents among all parties, such as contract information to both attorneys, and cooperative and condominium documents to the buyer’s attorney. This agent will also escort the buyer’s bank appraiser, inspecting engineer, and surveyors to the property; represent the seller’s interests and ownership; and accompany the purchaser to the property to measure for any alterations which might be necessary after purchase.
Writing the Contract and Due Diligence
After the buyer’s offer has been accepted by the seller, the attorneys get to work. The seller’s attorney, based on information from the realtor, writes the contract – property information, price, down-payment upon contract, expected closing date, and other particulars specific to the transaction. These might include specifications such as how many days the seller may remain in the property after the closing, what will be included or excluded in the sale (appliances), number of cooperative shares being purchased, monthly maintenance or common charges, etc.
Once the purchaser’s attorney receives the contract from the seller’s attorney, he spearheads the buyer’s Due Diligence process. For a cooperative apartment, this includes reading the Offering Plan, Cooperative Financial Statements, Proprietary Lease and Board Minutes.
The realtor will obtain the Cooperative information from the seller or the seller’s Managing Agent, and will forward the documents to the buyer’s attorney.
While this review is being conducted, and any changes to the contract are being discussed by the attorneys, the buyer’s attorney may advise his client to engage an inspecting engineer. If it’s a cooperative or condominium apartment, this will include the apartment itself – electrical, plumbing, appliances, windows – and the common areas – the common halls, basement, common boiler, roof, exterior walls, etc. Once the engineer has issued his report, the attorneys discuss any changes that may need to be made to the contract.
Finalizing the Contract
It is now time for the contract to be signed, and it is the attorneys’ job to explain each part of the contract, making sure that both parties are in total agreement so that no misunderstandings occur.
The buyer is the first party to sign the contract, and normally, will give her attorney a check for 10% of the purchase price made out to the seller’s attorney. The buyer’s attorney forwards the signed copies and check to the seller’s attorney, and once the seller signs, the property is In Contract.
Then the seller’s attorney deposits the check into an escrow account. Only at the closing, when all the papers are signed is any of the money released to the seller.
If a cooperative is being purchased, the real estate professional will discuss the Purchase Application with the buyers, and will urge that it be reviewed prior to submission. The real estate professional is most likely familiar with the Cooperative Corporation, its managing agent, and maybe even the Board of Directors, and may have suggestions as to the best presentation of the Purchase Application.
Wrapping It Up: The Closing
During cooperative apartment closings, which often occur at the managing agent’s office, a whole slew of people are present: the buyer(s) and their attorney, the seller(s) and their attorney, the Cooperative Corporation attorney, the cooperative managing agent, a representative of the purchaser’s bank, a representative of the seller’s bank, and the real estate agent(s) representing each party. If the property is a condominium or house, then we add a representative of the title company (the title closer).
Since these offices are normally too small for this many people, and there’s a truckload of papers, to the uninitiated, it can seem like complete chaos—a veritable storm of paper. But standing back, you get to see the flow: how the attorneys are completely in control of the paper, the exchanges of documents between parties, the photocopies needed, the checks written and exchanged, and the smooth passing of the property from one owner to another.
Brooklyn Real Estate Attorneys Have Your Back
Buyers are looking to purchase property, and what could make more sense than to be represented by a Brooklyn real estate attorney who works and lives in the same neighborhood in which you are purchasing? The attorney’s knowledge and familiarity with his colleagues facilitates the flow of information and ease of negotiation. Additionally, the neighborhood attorney knows the properties and the multi-unit dwellings (four unit cooperatives up to 200+ high rises). He’s probably worked on a closing in the building in which your apartment is located, is already familiar with the documents, and will probably know the seller’s attorney. In a nutshell, the neighborhood attorneys know all the other players involved.
Who could be better to have your back than someone who walks the neighborhood streets on a daily basis, and knows not only the other attorneys, but the mortgage brokers/bankers, the appraisers and engineers, and the real estate professionals as well.
Real estate transactions are difficult and stressful to begin with. Engaging a neighborhood attorney is one way in which to make it a bit easier, and while it probably won’t be a Zen-like experience, anything which eliminates some of the stress has to be a positive.