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Staten Island, NY
Real Estate Law - Staten Island, NY

Legal Services You Can Rely On

With extensive experience practicing real estate law, Michael M. Walsh, Attorney at Law, is a real estate attorney that can guide you through home buying and selling. Our professional attorneys have served commercial and residential real estate clients throughout Staten Island, NY, Long Island, and New York City.

We want to ensure you understand every step of your real estate transaction, whether you are buying for the first time or selling an investment property. With over 38 years of experience, Michael M. Walsh is well-versed in the area and can advise you as best as possible.

Real Estate Attorney Services

Michael M. Walsh, Attorney at Law, has practiced real estate law for over 35 years throughout Staten Island, NY, and surrounding areas. Whether you are buying your first home, selling your current one, investing in property, or looking to refinance your home, we can help with everything.

Each individual is entitled to representation by a real estate attorney who has extensive experience in all aspects of the real estate transaction process. We encourage you to come to our team to help you better understand the home buying and selling process. We will make sure you are making the best financial decisions and legal choices.

Real Estate Attorney Services - Staten Island, NY

Buying A Home

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Money

When buying a home, you must pay the buyer a “good faith” deposit to have a binding contract of sale. The seller’s attorney will hold the deposit in escrow until the contract’s closing date or early termination.

Depending on the deal, the deposit amount may vary because it is determined by the type and amount of loan the buyer is securing. You should print two copies of your deposit check, so you have one for your records and one for your mortgage lender. Be sure to move the necessary funds into your account to clear the deposit check.

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Offer & Acceptance

If you need to write an offer or your offer has been accepted, you can count on our team to handle the terms of your transaction. Sometimes, we can constitute an offer with a counteroffer to make that change for the seller, reject the bid, or accept it.

When there is a common term agreement, the contract is signed, and party obligations are defined. There may be contingencies for the seller or buyer that they must fulfill before closing, or the seller may be required to make modifications or repairs. Whatever the obligation, we ensure it is in writing and understood by both parties.

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Responsibilities

There can be an array of responsibilities that the buyer must fulfill before closing. If dealing with a cash transaction, you must have the necessary funds to purchase the property and pay the closing costs at closing.

If the buyer is financing the home with a mortgage, there must be a mortgage commitment before closing for proof that the buyer can afford the house. A buyer is usually given around 45 days to secure the written mortgage commitment. Homeowner’s insurance is required to close also.

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Closing Costs

The price of the property, the loan amount, and the lender will determine the closing costs.

  • Bank Fees (application fee, appraisal, credit report, flood certification, origination fee or points, bank attorney, underwriting, document preparation fee, post-closing review)
  • Title Insurance (borrower pays for their policy and the lender’s policy)
  • Mortgage Tax (1.8% less $30 for a 1 or 2 family dwelling up to $499,999.99 and 1.925% less $30 for a 1 or 2 family dwelling for mortgages $500,000.00 and over for 1 or 2 family dwelling)
  • Recording Fees (based on the number of pages, vary according to county)
  • Survey Fee (usually around $850)
  • Real Estate Taxes
  • Attorney Legal Fee
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Closing

At closing, the buyer pays the purchase price balance, and the deed is delivered to the buyer. Transfer of the property is symbolized by the buyer receiving a copy of the deed when the title insurance company receives the original for the transfer to be recorded in the county recording office.

In the case of mortgage financing, the buyer will execute a note and a mortgage. The buyer will execute any other disclosure documents.

Selling A Home

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Responsibilities

When selling a home, you must make sure all plumbing, heating, air conditioning, electrical and mechanical systems, and appliances are in working order. It is essential to ensure the roof is free of any leaks by closing or possession. Most buyers will request that the property be free of any termites or other wood-destroying organisms.

If there are any defects in the house, the seller should disclose those to the buyer. As the seller, you must deliver an insured title at standard premiums and a Certificate of Occupancy. Within five days of closing or at closing, the property must be vacant and in broom-clean condition.

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Closing Costs

With residential property, the seller is required to pay the following:

  • NY City Transfer Tax of 1% of the sale price up to $500,000.00 and 1.425% over $500,000.00
  • NY State transfer tax of $2.00 per $500.00 of consideration or .4% (hence the total transfer tax is either 1.4% up to $500,000.00 or 1.825% for transactions $500,001.00 and higher)
  • Any mortgage liens or judgments would have to be satisfied, and the title company insuring the purchaser will typically charge a pickup fee ($200-$250)
  • Recording fees for the satisfactions (based on the number of pages in the instrument); real estate broker (their fees are negotiated with the listing agent and can range from 3 to 6% of the sale price)
  • Attorney legal fee and any disbursements

Wills & Estates

We are proud to offer legal guidance for estate planning and will-writing. It is essential to have an established estate plan for your property to ensure that someone will manage any assets, medical care, or family responsibilities in case of death or the owner’s mental incapacity.

At Michael M. Walsh Attorney at Law, we are equipped with the knowledge and expertise to assist with a last will and testament, health care proxy, living will, power of attorney, and more.

Will and Estates - Staten Island, NY

Legal FAQ

At Michael M. Walsh, Attorney at Law, we do our best to keep our clients informed and address any concerns you may have. To provide further assistance, we have put together an informative legal real estate FAQ below.
Legal Representation - Staten Island, NY

If the seller and I can’t agree to terms, do I get reimbursed for my expenses?

Typically no, but you should discuss the situation with your attorney. If you feel you can establish that the seller acted improperly (false representations, etc.), you may wish to sue in Small Claims Court to recover your expenses, but recovery is not guaranteed.

What does “on or about” mean?

In NYC, the contract’s closing date is typically an “on or about” date, meaning it is a target date, not a scheduled date. Either side to the transaction is permitted a “reasonable” adjournment or postponement of the “on or about” date. There is no iron-clad rule as to the length of an adjournment, and the Courts have held the entitled adjournment must be reasonable based on the circumstances of each particular case. In Staten Island, the general rule of thumb is 30 days.

What does “as is” mean?

“As is” means the seller must deliver the house at closing in the same condition it was when the buyer viewed it and made their offer. Most NYC residential real estate transactions are “AS IS” transactions. Most residential real estate contracts in NYC also contain language that states that the plumbing, heating, electrical, AC systems, and appliances will be in working order at closing. The roof must be free of leaks. Every transaction is different, so be sure to discuss these issues with your attorney.

What is a survey?

A survey is a drawing of the outline of the property lines and an outline or footprint of the house or improvements located on the property. Fences, curb walls, sidewalks, and hedges are also depicted on the survey. The size of the lot and the location of improvements on the property with the property lines are displayed. The survey will also disclose encroachments and variations of fences, curbs, etc., from the property lines.

Do I need a new survey?

A new survey is advisable whenever real property is being purchased as it will freeze in time, as of the date of the survey, the actual state of facts that exist at the property. It will tell you details about the structure that you can compare with building department records.

Relying on an old survey could result in discovering (after closing) that the fence on the survey that you thought was on your property was actually on the property next door or replaced after the survey was drawn.

If I don’t get approved for my loan, do I get my deposit back?

That will depend on the specific terms of your contract. Generally, as long as you have filed your application in a timely fashion, have been cooperative, and have provided truthful and accurate documentation to the lender, if the application is denied through no fault of your own, the deposit will be refunded.

What does escrow mean?

In NY, escrow refers to someone holding money for someone else’s benefit. When the contract is signed, the purchaser’s contract deposit is contained in the seller’s attorney’s escrow or trust account. The check is cashed, so be sure the funds necessary for the check to clear have been transferred.

Is money held in escrow to guarantee there are no problems with the house after closing?

No, however, in NYC, if possession of the premises is not delivered to the buyer at closing, we will hold money in escrow to ensure the seller vacates the premises on the agreed-upon date (typically five days after closing) and the property is delivered per the terms of the contract. Check with your attorney what the practice is in your community.

What is property condition disclosure credit (PCDC)?

New York Law requires a seller of a 1 or 2 family residential dwelling (condos and co-ops are exempt) to provide the buyer, before the execution of a contract by the buyer, with a disclosure statement listing any defects or problems the property has. Should the seller elect not to provide the disclosure statement, they must give the buyer a $500 credit at closing for not complying with the law.

Giving the credit does not insulate the seller from a post-closing lawsuit but merely puts the parties on an even footing should the buyer commence a lawsuit.

The total bill that enacted the PCDC can be viewed at https://assembly.state.ny.us/leg and enter bill # S05339.

For a copy of the PCDC form, go to http:/www.dos.state.ny.us/lcns/licensing.html#disclosure and click on “Property Condition Disclosure Statement”

Do I need a permit for a deck?

An architect should answer any question relating to the legality of any alteration or addition to a structure. That being said, most if not all alterations require a permit and signoff by the NYC Building Department. However, the reality of life on Staten Island is that most alterations and additions (i.e., decks, Florida rooms, kitchen or bathrooms in the basement, dormers, conversions of attics to bedrooms, added bathrooms) have not been made with permits.

While the existence of these illegal additions generally will not impede closing, a buyer must understand that once they close, the house as altered is their responsibility. They should also be aware that specific illegal improvements could affect or void their homeowner’s insurance coverage in the event of a loss or claim. The problem is many alterations or additions are incapable of being legalized, so a buyer should be sure to disclose the existence of any such issues to their attorney. This way, we can insert language into the contract that would allow the buyer to cancel the contract and receive a refund of the contract deposit should the lender object to the alteration or addition.

How do I find out what the real estate taxes are?

Check the NYC Department of Finance for the current assessed value and the current tax rate to determine real estate taxes. Assessed value multiplied by the tax rate percentage (%) will give you the annual taxes. Please do not rely on what the seller says they are paying because they may have an exemption that would lower their taxes, to which you may not be entitled (senior citizen, veteran, disabled, STAR).

What is a certificate of occupancy (C of O)?

The NYC Building Department issues a Certificate of Occupancy (C of O). It states who can utilize a structure (i.e., one family, two-family, retail store, etc.). For houses built before 1938 in Staten Island, the lack of a C of O does not impede occupancy. It is generally accepted that C of O’s are not required for buildings existing before that year as long as they have not been altered or modified. Always consult with an architect if there is any question regarding the legality of a particular structure.

What is title insurance?

Title insurance is a policy of insurance purchased at the closing of real property. The fee or owner’s policy insures the buyer, and the loan policy insures the lender if any. Title insurance ensures that the property is the size you think it is. The structure sits within the property lines, the seller has the legal right to sell the property, and there are no liens or encumbrances that would interfere with the property’s use and enjoyment. Title insurance does not ensure that the building is legal, so if there is any question about the structure’s legality, you should consult an architect.

The premiums for title insurance are regulated by the New York Board of Title Underwriters and are the same regardless of the title insurance company your attorney uses. The premium is a one-time payment, and there is no future bill received for the insurance. The buyer pays for both policies at closing, and they stay in effect until there is a transfer of title or the mortgage is paid off. You can determine the cost of the title insurance premiums for your transaction using the First American Title Insurance Company calculator. Title agencies also collect the fees for deed and mortgage recording (based on the number of pages and vary from County to County), municipal searches, and service fees that change from company to company. Be sure to receive a written estimate of your title and related closing costs from your attorney before signing your contract.

What is the difference between a mortgage broker and a bank?

A mortgage broker performs many of the administrative tasks relating to your loan application that a loan officer in a bank performs and then should shop your application to various lenders to get you a loan that best meets your needs and budget. The mortgage broker cannot issue you a commitment for a loan but secures a commitment for you from a lender.

A bank processes your loan application and advises the buyer/borrower on the bank’s different loan programs. The bank issues a mortgage commitment directly to the buyer/borrower.

What is a mortgage commitment?

A mortgage commitment is a written offer from a lender to make a loan to a buyer of real property in exchange for the buyer executing a mortgage against the property in favor of the lender, which secures the debt’s repayment putting the property up as collateral. The commitment will state the amount of the loan, the term of the loan (15/20/30 years), and the interest rate charged (unless the rate is not locked or is “floating”).

The loan will be either a fixed-rate loan or an adjustable rate, which means the rate can change at predetermined times and with predetermined increases. Adjustable loans carry a risk that the rate can go up and are usually based on a published index plus a predetermined percentage. Commitments typically expire 30, 60, or 90 days from either the date of application or the issuance. It depends on the lender and sometimes on the loan program.

Should I get a house inspection?

It is strongly advised that all buyers have the house inspected to disclose any defects or problems that the buyer could not detect during their home viewing. The inspection should be done by an engineer or a licensed home inspector.

The inspection is typically done pre-contract after the buyer’s offer is accepted. While the inspection is not intended to serve as a bargaining or negotiating tool, if the inspection discloses a condition that the buyer did not consider when making their offer, they may want to consult with their real estate professional and modify their proposal.

If I am selling my house, what does my lawyer need from me to represent me?

Your attorney will need a copy of your deed, survey, title insurance policy, Certificate of Occupancy, and the most recent mortgage statement for all mortgages affecting the property. If you have an equity line of credit, you should obtain a freeze of the account, provided you do not anticipate you will need to access any equity before the closing. If you need to access the equity line of credit to put a deposit down on a new home, you should take the advance and then freeze the account.

If you paid off your mortgage and received satisfaction from your lender’s mortgage but did not record it, you should provide your attorney with the original so that it can be recorded. If any of the owners have died, you should provide your attorney with original death certificates. If you are divorced, and your judgment of divorce dictates the terms of the property’s sale, you should give your attorney a copy of the judgment.

If you are in a divorce proceeding, you should advise your attorney of your attorney and your spouse’s attorney’s name, address, telephone number, and email address. You should also inform your attorney of any alterations or additions done to the premises either by you or a prior owner. If you live outside of NY and are selling property located within New York State, you should provide your attorney with a form IT2663. Your accountant prepares the form if the property is not exempt from the payment of estimated capital gains tax.

What is an “HOA”?

An HOA is an acronym for Home Owners Association. The most common reason for an HOA on Staten Island is when newly constructed homes share a common sewer line or drain. State law requires establishing an HOA to collect a monthly fee from each affected homeowner and maintain those funds to cover repair or replacement costs. The common sewer line or drain and covering the taxes that the HOA will be required to pay and the associated administrative fees (accountants, management company, etc.)

Some HOA’s are also PUD’s or Planned Unit Developments, which, simply put, are HOA’s that also have some shared amenity like a playground, common parking area, or a pool. Your attorney can tell you if the property is subject to an HOA declaration and monthly fee. Some sellers are not even aware that their properties are subject to an HOA declaration because many are “inactive”. This can present some problems in a transaction, so it is important to speak to your attorney about this issue pre-contract.

Receive quality legal real estate guidance today! Contact us at 718-442-3900.

Michael M. Walsh Attorney at Law

1688 Victory Blvd #200
Staten Island, NY 10314

Contact Information

Phone: 718-442-3900
Email: mwalshlaw@gmail.com

Hours

Monday - Friday
9:00 AM - 6:00 PM

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