Seller's Corner

Choosing Your Attorney

The most significant role of your attorney is to provide guidance, as well as legal expertise. Often home sellers, in addition to the paperwork and packing associated with the sale of their home, have the additional stress of preparing for the purchase of and coordinating the move from the old home and into a new home. Proper legal representation can reduce the stress level of the “double” real estate transaction.

Suggestions for the Seller

Get your paperwork in order. Find your file from when you bought the house.

Your real estate attorney is interested in having a copy of the following:

  1. The Deed is the legal document which indicates:
    • Who is the rightful owner
    • When title was transferred
    • Describes the legal bounds of your property
    • Defines the manner in which you may transfer the property
  2. The Title report or policy (specifically the Schedule B exceptions).
  3. The Survey which is the map that outlines the legal boundaries of your property and how the building is situated on your property.
  4. The Certificate of Occupancy is a document which verifies that your home met the requirements of your local building code at the time that it was built. Depending on the age of your home, you should have a Certificate of Occupancy for additions and extensions to your house, including decks, dormers, garage conversions, enclosed porches, etc. If you do not have a file on your home, a trip to your local building department to review the file is a good idea before the Contract of Sale is drafted. It may be more difficult to close or it may delay the closing if you do not possess all the Certificates of Occupancy.
  5. Information on your current lender. If you have a mortgage on your property, it will probably have to be paid off, or “satisfied” at closing. [Many mortgages are no longer assumable by a Purchaser.] A copy of your most recent mortgage statement with your social security number will assist your attorney to obtain a “payoff statement” to satisfy the outstanding mortgage(s).
  6. Tax/Utility Bills. An informed Buyer may ask about taxes and utility bills.

The key to a smooth real estate transaction is knowing that you have all the documentation needed to close the deal. If a document is not available or does not exist, then the Contract of Sale should be drafted to give the Seller enough time to obtain that document prior to closing.

Real Property Disclosure Statement: The New York Property Condition Disclosure Act, which went into effect on March 1, 2002, was enacted to provide information to prospective Buyers. In sum, you, the Seller may fill in a Disclosure Statement which makes representations about your knowledge of the property. If you prefer not to make any representations and do not fill out the Disclosure Statement, the law states that the Seller must give the Purchaser a $500 credit at Closing. It is a good idea to consult with your attorney prior to filling out the Disclosure Statement.

The Seller's Closing Costs:

  1. Brokers’ Commission: If you are working with a real estate broker, you are responsible for paying the sales commission. This commission is usually negotiated at the time your home was listed with the broker. The amount of the commission is on a case-by-case basis.
  2. Transfer fees: New York State collects a transfer tax from the Seller at the time a new deed is recorded. The tax is filed in form TP-584. Currently the State tax is $2.00 for every $500.00 of the selling price (this tax can change). The tax is collected by the title company at the closing and paid to the State.
  3. Satisfaction of Mortgage: If you have a mortgage or other lien on your home, you must pay them off (“satisfy”) at the time of closing. In addition to the outstanding principal, you will pay interest and possibly a fee for preparation of the “Satisfaction” that will be recorded in the County Clerk’s Office.
  4. Title Fees: The bulk of the title fees are paid by the Purchaser. However, in addition to paying the transfer fee (described above) the Seller pays the fee for recording the mortgage satisfaction. Additionally, the title closer charges a “pick up” fee to forward the pay off to the lender and follow up on obtaining and then recording the satisfaction of mortgage.
  5. Adjustments of Real Estate Taxes; Water; and Fuel: You are responsible for the taxes and utilities until the day of the closing. The Buyer is responsible for the taxes and utilities from the day of the closing going forward. Your attorney should calculate these apportionments and provide a Closing Statement to you. If you have an oil tank, it is customary for the Seller to arrange for the oil company to either “read” (measure) the tank or fill it and bring the bill to the Closing. The Buyer then reimburses you at the Closing for the fuel.
  6. Legal fees: This must be discussed and agreed to between the attorney and client before the Contract of Sale is drawn. At BASS & ABRAMS, P.C., we state our fees and disbursements in writing, when you first retain us.

Buyer's Corner

Frequently Asked Questions