Common Questions

Choosing a real estate attorney to help you through the process of buying or selling a property is a decision you should make carefully. Selecting the most appropriate attorney can make the process even easier for you and help to ensure that you buy or sell the property in the most effective and expedient manner. Make sure you do some research into who you are planning to work with before hiring the individual to assist you. Some important factors to consider include: years of experience as a real estate attorney, responsiveness to your inquiries, testimonials and ratings from past clients. All of these factors can help you evaluate the attorney and give you a sense of how he will handle your transaction. Frank Savona has many satisfied clients due to his diligence and expertise in the real estate area.

Buying or selling a home isn’t always easy, but there are steps you can take to make the process easier. Here are several of the most important tips to bear in mind when you are looking at a home purchase or sale. To start with, you should be aware of some of the “hidden costs” in home purchases. Finding out the base cost is important, but know that you will also be responsible for additional costs such as title insurance, legal costs, home insurance, land transfer fees, and mortgage costs.

Furthermore, do your research when entering into a home buying or selling situation. You want to know the strengths and weaknesses of the property, whether you’re listing the house for sale or whether you are contemplating buying it. This means never skipping the home inspection, as it can give you important insight about the property that might not otherwise be visible.

If you’re selling, you want to take advantage of some simple repairs or staging tactics that can really bring out the best in the property. This can help you find the right buyer more quickly. Along the same line, know the neighborhood and work with a realtor who can help identify the right kind of buyer to expedite your process.

Finally, whether you are buying or selling, it’s important that you hire an experienced real estate attorney who can address all your questions. Frank Savona can help you address some of the finer details to ease your concerns and represent your best interests.

In the States of New York and New Jersey, you are not technically required to have an attorney represent you or review documents when buying or selling property, and entering into financing arrangements with lenders. However, real estate transactions involve a complicated set of local and state laws, as well as several complex agreements and contracts. It is more than advisable to ensure that you have an experienced attorney who is familiar with both the law and the specifics of real estate transactions to represent you. This is so that you have a legal representative to review all documents and advise you about how to handle every stage of the transaction. Consider this: The other parties will almost certainly have legal representation on their side of the table, so it is in your best interest to have legal representation as well.

While every real estate transaction is different, the basic process is generally the same. The first step is due diligence, which includes document review, title search and inspection of the property. The contract is then negotiated and reviewed, including offer price and stipulations. If the purchaser is borrowing to make the purchase, the approval of the bank is required; bank approval may also be necessary if the seller is negotiating a “short sale” or other exit from their own mortgage. If there is a homeowners association or condo board approval necessary, that is the next step. Finally, all parties gather for the closing and the signing of all necessary documents. Typically the closing process takes about two months.

Due diligence is a careful investigation into the details of every transaction, whether in real estate or other business. Financial statements are reviewed to ensure they are in order and offer no “red flags” that might imply problems. For co-op or condominium properties, the building’s history and the history of any governing board is reviewed and researched for problems that might impact you later. Once you have signed a contract and agreed to terms, if there are future problems, your only option may be expensive and slow-moving litigation. Due diligence seeks to unearth problems before you are contractually bound to a deal or property, and is one of the most basic and most important services an attorney can render their client.

While both of these kinds of properties require board approval and hold regular board meetings, there are a lot of differences between condos and co-ops that you should be aware of before you enter into the process. Co-ops, for example, tend to have a more intricate approval process, which means that the board might ask you very intimate details about your life. A face-to-face interview is common, and it can even include pets. In a co-op, your application can be denied for any reason, but in a condo, right of first refusal runs the game, so this means that some other member could be eligible to buy it before you do.

When it comes to your living situation, there are a few key differences that might help point you in the right direction.  Condos tend to be newer buildings and as a result, they frequently come with access to amenities like gyms, rooftops, or even entertainment rooms that are used by everyone.  Co-ops are actually self-governed and can be made up of even just a few apartments. They tend to be less expensive than purchasing a condo, which is helpful if you’re moving into an area where the cost of living is high.  A down payment for a co-op, however, could be 20 percent, whereas a condo might not require such a high percentage when you are first moving in.  There are many factors to consider in your choice.

In simplest terms, a condominium is considered real property: You purchase it as a portion of a larger structure and receive a deed for it. This entitles you to the normal privileges and benefits of property as well as to engage in the governance of the building itself. A Cooperative or co-op is a corporation. When you purchase a co-op, you are purchasing a share in the corporation and it issues you a lease on the apartment. In that sense a co-op is not “real” property, but legally considered “goods.” This difference in classification often means co-ops are less expensive than comparable condominiums, but co-ops require approval of the existing shareholders whereas condos only require the owner’s approval.

  • The inspector you hire should be licensed – check with your real estate agent or attorney for possible recommendations.
  • Be on the lookout for any structural defects (roof, foundation, etc.).
  • Be aware of any structural additions and require the seller provide the necessary building permits.
  • Have your attorney get a final survey to ensure no boundary line disputes.
  • Check out the monthly utility expenses, as well as the property taxes so that you can properly budget.

As a seller, you will have to pay your real estate agent commission based on the amount you agreed to pay in your listing agreement with him or her. You will also pay transfer taxes to the state and NYC (if the property is in the 5 boroughs).

The attorney that you hire will typically charge a flat legal fee to be paid at the time of closing.

There may also be some other incidental closing costs charged by the title company including recordings costs.

Purchasers typically require mortgage financing and there will be fees charged, which may vary from lender to lender.  You should always require that your loan officer provide an itemized list of all lender related fees. Common lender required fees include an application fee, appraisal fee, homeowners insurance premium for one year, prepaid interest on your mortgage from the date of closing, and escrow reserves to set up an escrow account at closing so that the lender can pay your property taxes and homeowners insurance as part of your monthly payment. Note: typically, the appraisal fee and homeowners insurance is the only required fee to be paid upfront and the others will be paid at the time of closing.

Purchasers must also purchase title insurance. Again, the title company fees are paid at the closing and not prior to. The title insurance premium ranges depending on the purchase price of your new home. There are other title company related fees including title searches, cost of new survey and recording costs. Your attorney will hire a title company at the best possible cost to you, so please consult your attorney to review all title company related fees.

Finally, in addition to the lender costs and title company costs, purchasers will need to pay their attorney a flat fee at the time of closing.

Sellers should always speak with their real estate agent and make sure the MLS listing is specific as to what items are included or excluded from the sale.  Typically, the seller will leave all appliances, but if they wish to exclude any appliances, they should specify this in the MLS listing. All personal belongings (furniture ,etc) would be excluded.  Any fixtures should be included in the sale. Many times, the seller owns a valuable light fixture, such as a dining room chandelier. They can certainly exclude that item, but it should be specified in the MLS listing and the seller must replace it with a builder grade light fixture.

Each situation is different, so it is important to speak to an experienced attorney that can review the details of your situation. In general, every adult needs a will. The need is even greater for adults that have minor children or own property or other assets. Your will not only determines how your property – real and personal – are distributed, it can also make provisions for other important aspects of your life. For instance, if you are a parent, your will needs to include a guardian nominated to care for your children, should something happen to you and your child’s other parent

In addition to your assets and the care of your children, your will can also include instructions for your care, should you no longer be capable of making decisions for yourself (when this involves saving your life, it is known as a Living Will and determines the amount of life-saving measures doctors should take if your health is failing).

Trusts (also known as Revocable Living Trusts) can be an effective tool for estate planning, but they are not for everyone. In general, if you have only modest assets, a trust is not necessary, but there are exceptions. An experienced attorney can discuss all of the options with you.

Despite the discomfort of thinking of the end of your life, executing a last will and testament is not something that should be postponed. If you were to die without a will, the state determines what happens to your assets. Sometimes this means your spouse or children receive your assets, but this only occurs after a lengthy probate experience. Should you die without a will and not be a parent or spouse, there is no telling what could happen to your estate.

Your will specifies what should happen with your estate once you die. At a minimum, your will needs to include:

  • Who is responsible for your children
  • How your property and assets should be divided
    Who should be in charge of administrating your estate
  • Any specific gifts you want to leave for loved ones
  • Any charitable donations you wish to be made out of your estate

In order to properly execute a will, you must be of sound mind, with a clear understanding of the documents you are signing. You must be acting on your own free will without undue influence, and your will must be signed, witnessed, and notarized in accordance with state laws.

The best way to find advisers to help with planning for your estate and other financial matters is to research your options. There are likely many options in your area, but you will feel more confident if you take the time to find someone whose skills and experience are suitable for your situation. In addition to searching online, you might also want to ask friends, family members, or co-workers who have similar family and financial situations to your own.

Remember, it is important your advisor be familiar with laws in your state, since these vary from location to location. If you have specific concerns or unique circumstances, you should look for someone who has previous experience dealing with similar situations. It is also important to work with someone who makes you comfortable.

When you believe you have found someone qualified to handle your case, schedule a consultation to discuss your estate planning needs. This gives you an opportunity to get to know an estate planning attorney without making a long-term commitment.

Speaking with your aging parents about their estate can be uncomfortable, but it is necessary. It’s important to understand their wishes for their future, as well as how they would like their assets to be distributed. Not doing so is going to make the situation more difficult down the road and could cost your family a great deal of money and heartache.

The first thing you should do, if possible, is to encourage them to discuss their current financial status in general. This includes their bank accounts, mortgages, loans, credit card accounts, life insurance policies, and ownership documents regarding houses, property, vehicle, and other assets. The worst thing that can happen is for you to be caught off guard when one or both of your parents are no longer here to explain their situation.

Many adult children take for granted their parents are financially savvy – but unfortunately, this is not always the case. Often, parents with good intentions make costly mistakes. Discussions now can prevent costly and unintentional mistakes.

It is also important to discuss your parents’ estate, not to learn what you will get once they are gone, but to determine how to care for them long-term. Once you have broached the issue privately, you should schedule a time to meet together with an attorney and financial planner.