Purchasing or selling residential real estate in New York requires careful attention to the legal details. Real estate transactions are subject to a variety of state statutes, common law and local codes and ordinances. Federal anti-discrimination statutes can also come into play. Even in a relatively straightforward transaction, there are pitfalls that can trap those who are unprepared.
For a seller, the typical first step in putting a property on the market is finding and retaining a broker. The seller and the broker enter into a listing agreement which may be exclusive, meaning the broker is the only one who can collect a commission on the sale. Listing agreements are governed by general contract law principles as well as state statutes.
When a buyer is found, a purchase agreement and a deed must be drafted. The seller is obligated by law to make certain disclosures to the buyer; a lack of disclosure can lead to litigation.
The deed is the document that legally transfers title. The seller must have marketable title in order to convey the property. Typically the buyer will hire a title insurance company to research the title, and also to insure against unforeseen title issues.
For buyers, obtaining financing is a critical step in the process. For the typical buyer of a single-family home, this means obtaining a mortgage. Buyers of multiple unit dwellings may enter into far more sophisticated financing arrangements, which require a thorough review of all the applicable agreements prior to closing.
At the real estate closing the deed is executed and delivered from the seller to the buyer. The deed is then recorded with the New York Office of the City Register or the appropriate local government unit.
Large, complex transactions require the assistance of counsel with a sophisticated understanding of all aspects of the process. Working with an experienced New York real estate transactions firm can help insure the deal goes smoothly from start to finish.
Source: Cornell University Law School, "Real Estate Transactions," accessed Aug. 30, 2014