Without a doubt, purchasing any type of property is exciting, but it is equally stressful and overwhelming at the same time. You are investing a huge chunk of money and you don’t want to make any wrong decisions.
Real estate closings in New York can be complicated, especially for first-time buyers. From submitting the mortgage application to checking the title and executing the contract, there will be a lot to cover before you officially have the property in your possession.
Moreover, the past several years have changed the real estate closing process in New York, increasing governmental regulation and stringent lending practices.
Don’t worry, though! This detailed buyer’s guide to real estate closings will help give you an overview of the process of buying a home, investment property, or commercial space. We’ve created a list of all the steps a buyer must perform when buying a house or any other type of property in New York City, Long Island, and the surrounding area.
What Is a Real Estate Closing?
Closing is the final step of the real estate purchase process. Once the seller accepts the final offer on the property, a purchase agreement is made between the buying and selling parties. Next, both the buyer and the seller mutually decide on a closing date. Upon closing, ownership of the house or property is formally transferred to the buyer. After that, the buying party is free to move into or use the property as they see fit.
A real estate attorney will work with the title agency, lender, and agent throughout the process of real estate closing from beginning to end in order to get to the closing finish line.
Steps Every Buyer Must Take Before Closing on a Property
Real estate closing is the last stage of purchasing a property, but reaching that stage can be a little daunting. There is a series of steps that every buyer should take in order to make the right investment.
Below we have explained each step in detail to make the real estate closing process more approachable.
Step 1: Get a Mortgage Pre-Approval
You might know of people who try to get mortgage approval after they find a property they want to buy and are disappointed when it doesn’t work out. There’s a better approach. Before you can make an offer to anyone, you should know how much money you can borrow and combine it with how much you have saved to discover your budget.
It is best to get a mortgage pre-approval in order to understand how much you can afford. A pre-approval gives you the confidence needed to go after the ideal property because you know you have the funds to purchase it.
Step 2: Find a Property You Want to Buy
New York is full of thousands of condos, townhouses, apartment buildings, duplexes, and commercial properties for sale at any given time so you will have plenty of options.
Engaging a real estate agent will help you funnel down the options and select a property that suits your requirements. You can narrow your search to places in a certain neighborhood, with a certain square footage, near public transportation, in a tourist hotspot, or NOT in a tourist hotspot, etc.
Step 3: Make an Offer
Once you find the property you want, you can make an offer to the seller or the agent. A verbal offer is sufficient, but it does not create a binding obligation on either party. However, any contract for sale must be in writing, as per New York law.
If the seller accepts your offer, move to step 4. Otherwise, they might come back with a counteroffer and you can engage in negotiations. Or you can move on and search for a different property, depending on your preferences and budget.
Never put anything in writing before conferring with a real estate attorney, as it may create a binding contract.
Sometimes, real estate agents and sellers request potential buyers to sign an offer or a contract. Don’t do so before speaking to your real estate attorney. Contact the Frank Law Firm and hire the best real estate attorneys in N.Y. to avoid being a victim of fraud and other illegal practices.
Step 4: Hire a Reputable Real Estate Lawyer (Important)
Buyers and sellers of real estate should always have a good real estate attorney to guide them through the paperwork and any unexpected issues. Whether you are a first-time buyer or purchasing your fifth property, it’s indispensable to have a real estate attorney by your side to protect your legal rights.
When looking for an attorney, ensure they are experienced in the real estate buying process in New York. Real estate transactions can be complicated so you need to hire an attorney with the knowledge and expertise to help you finalize your purchase without any stress or setbacks.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to the Frank Law Firm today! We will assist you throughout the real estate closing process while providing you with the legal guidance needed for a smooth buying process.
Step 5: Do a Comprehensive Inspection
Many real estate contracts state that “the seller is selling the property in as-is condition” without agreeing to make any repairs. Therefore, every buyer must inspect the property to learn the details of its condition and the potential repairs it needs.
If you are buying a property for the first time, it is highly recommended to appoint a licensed and experienced building inspector to find any flaws or deteriorating aspects. Some building inspection companies search for termites, plumbing leaks, and other types of issues that can put a dent in your pocket when you need to get them repaired shortly after finalizing the purchase.
Make sure to collect the building inspection report, as you may need it to renegotiate the offer.
Step 6: Renegotiate with the Seller
A few cracks here and there are usually fine, but in the event of major damage or problems requiring a lot of work, you should renegotiate the offer with the seller. After the building inspection is done, you have three options:
- Ask the seller to make the repairs before closing.
- Accept the property in the “as is” condition, but lower your offer to cover repair costs.
- Withdraw your offer.
If the seller agrees to make the repairs, your attorney should insert a clause in the real estate contract to protect you from any fraud.
Step 7: Review and Sign the Contract
As per real estate law in New York State, the seller’s attorney must prepare the Contract of Sale. Once you receive the contract, send it to your attorney for review to ensure it has the terms and conditions you and the seller both agreed on during negotiations.
The buyer’s attorney is able to make changes to the contract, such as adding additional terms, but then it goes back to the seller’s attorney for further review.
At the Frank Law Firm, we can negotiate any newly-added terms with the seller’s attorney on your behalf to help you get the best deal. Choose our real estate attorneys and experience the most hassle-free real estate closing.
Step 8: Check the Title
After both parties have signed the contract, the buyer’s attorney orders title work for the particular property. The closing attorney involved in the process reviews the title work and searches for any problems in the property’s title.
These problems may include unpaid taxes, liens, public record errors, and more that may prevent you from buying or moving into the property. Your attorney will help you determine if the property’s title is clear.
Step 9: Submit Your Mortgage Application
If you already have the pre-approval, getting a mortgage won’t be a painful process. However, it is imperative to submit the loan application promptly so it can be finalized as soon as possible. The bank or lender needs a fully executed contract in order to process your loan application.
Choosing the right lender is important because the interest rate and other essential factors may vary. Talk to your real estate attorney and ask if they can share their experience with particular lenders to help you decide.
Step 11: Obtain the Title Insurance
Title insurance is an insurance policy that safeguards the buyer (you) and the bank (lender) from any additional costs that may accumulate if you have to defend the title to your property.
Real estate attorneys at the Frank Law Firm can help you obtain a title insurance policy for your property. We are a team of experienced attorneys that are well-versed in the requirements for obtaining a title insurance policy when buying property in New York.
Step 12: Schedule a Firm Closing Date
In order to schedule a real estate closing, it must satisfy these three conditions:
- All parties are available.
- The seller has cleared the title issues.
- The buyer’s lender gives their attorney a “clear to close”.
Once all the aforementioned conditions are met, your attorney can schedule the date and time of closing that’s convenient for all parties involved.
Step 13: Do the Final Walkthrough
The final inspection helps the buyer ensure that all repairs have been completed (as promised by the seller) and that no damage occurred to the property during the repairs.
The final walkthrough also gives the buyer a chance to see if every item the seller promised in the contract is there or not.
Step 14: Attend the Closing
A real estate closing is the final step of purchasing a property. It’s the step where the deed conveying ownership of the property will be signed, along with the mortgage documents and other legal papers associated with the closing. Moreover, money changes hands from the buyer to the seller during the real estate closing.
The closing can occur either at the attorney’s office of either party or it can happen virtually online. After the closing, the buyer becomes the official owner of the property as per law.
What to Expect on the Day of Closing?
Closing is often the most complicated part of the entire process, so it’s essential to learn everything you can about it.
Who Should Be Present on the Day of Closing?
Closing on a property is done in different ways and in multiple steps. Though all parties are not required to be present, the following people might be involved:
- Title company representative (to provide evidence of ownership of the property)
- Title Closer (who might work for the title company or the lender)
- Attorneys (the real estate lawyers of the buying and selling parties)
- Seller’s real estate agent
- Seller or their authorized representative
- Buyer or their authorized representative
- Buyer’s mortgage lender
- Buyer’s real estate agent
The buyer must be there to sign the paperwork, but the seller can opt to sign the documents ahead of time and send their lawyer as a representative.
What Documents ARE Involved in the Closing Process?
The closing process involves quite a bit of documentation. Some of the documents you’ll receive and need to sign may include:
- Transfer tax documents (Example: TP584, TP5217)
- A deed
- A bill of sale (transfers the ownership of the property from the seller to the buyer)
- A mortgage note (your promise to repay the loan to the lender)
- A mortgage (secures the obligation of the note)
- A loan application, which you and your attorney will review for accuracy
- Closing disclosure
You need to become familiar with all the documents involved in the process of closing. Your attorney can explain all the details of these documents.
Hire the Best Real Estate Attorneys at the Frank Law Firm for the Ultimate Peace of Mind
Hiring real estate lawyers from the Frank Law Firm will take the mysteries out of your property purchase while ensuring your rights are protected.
Our attorneys utilize their best efforts to ensure your real estate transaction goes smoothly and any issues are handled in a professional and timely manner.
You can expect our real estate lawyers to perform the following functions for you:
- First, review and explain the contract of sale (COS) to you.
- Negotiate the COS with the seller’s lawyers.
- Assist you in complying with the terms and conditions mentioned in the contract, such as deadlines and more.
- Clear your mortgage-related queries.
- Order and review the abstract of the property title.
- Coordinate the closing of the title.
- Prepare a closing statement and accompany you on the day of closing.
Besides the functions mentioned above, we’ll assist you with whatever else you need throughout the process.
The Frank Law Firm regularly assists clients with buying and selling residential and commercial properties. We have decades of combined experience with real estate transactions and are experts in real estate law in New York.
Whether you are just beginning to think about purchasing a property or have already found your ideal place, it’s time to hire the best real estate attorneys in New York State.