Nadel & Ciarlo, P.C.

What are some key terms in a residential real estate contract?

Whether it's an apartment, condo or townhouse, buying a home in New York City is a significant investment. Once you have found a potential home and made an offer, the seller will typically send you their proposed contract. Before signing, it's critical to make sure it includes some key provisions that will protect your interests.

Unless you're paying cash it's important to make clear that your offer is contingent on getting financing on particular terms and at a particular rate. The contract should clearly state who pays which closing costs such as escrow fees, notary fees and others. It should also spell out which appliances and fixtures will be included in the purchase.

The contract should contain a provision making the sale contingent on a home inspection, and it should provide that you can walk away from the deal if the inspection uncovers a serious problem. The date for the real estate closing should be specified. If your purchase is contingent on selling your current home, that should be spelled out clearly in the contract.

These are just a few key terms to look for in a residential real estate contract. There will likely be others depending on your individual circumstances and needs. It's well worth your time to study the seller's proposed agreement carefully and get legal advice to make sure you understand all the contract terms. An experienced real estate attorney can advise people as to what terms are generally negotiable, and can also undertake the negotiations on their behalf.

Source:, "7 Must-Have Real Estate Contract Conditions," accessed Feb. 15, 2016

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