I represent buyers and sellers of residential and commercial real estate in New Jersey. I work closely with my clients whether they are the buyer or seller, to ensure that real estate documents are in order and that the real estate closing takes place with minimal stress and without unwelcome surprises to my clients.
All real estate transactions involve substantial document review and preparation. If you are considering the sale, purchase, or lease of real property in New Jersey, you need an experienced attorney to provide counsel at every stage of your real estate transaction.
I have successfully represented individual and commercial clients in real estate proceedings for over twenty-five years. I offer full-service real estate representation at reasonable fees.
I also handle all aspects of title issues. These may include discharges of old mortgages, tax liens, judgment liens, prior-owner clouds on title, and all other issues that may affect title to property. I have successfully cleared hundreds of title issues over the years. I work with you, your title company and the other parties involved to have title issues cleared in an expeditious manner.
I am often called upon to represent people or companies in order to clear up title issues or to represent them in real estate litigation. I have substantial experience in analyzing and litigating real estate matters. These may include the following issues:
It is extremely important that a prospective buyer use the greatest caution in buying a home. Likewise, selling a home involves many issues that may not be obvious. A seller has many legal obligations to the buyer and failure to fulfill these obligations can result in years of costly litigation down the road.
The agreement to sell between a real estate buyer and seller is governed by the general principles of contract law. The Statute of Frauds requires that real property contracts must be in writing. Title to real estate must be marketable, which means that it must be free and clear of all encumbrances, liens, clouds, litigation risks, or other title defects. To ensure marketable title, the buyer typically employs an attorney or a title insurance company to perform a title search. In a title search, the searcher examines the public records in the county in which a property is located, mapping a chain of title by examining all the recorded deeds concerning the property. The title searcher will also determine if there are any encumbrances on the property, such as mortgages, unpaid real estate taxes, liens for municipal improvements, unpaid federal taxes, government claims, legal judgments, foreclosures, condemnations, covenants, and easements. A title insurance company will insure the buyer against losses caused by the title being invalid.
All contracts for the sale of 1-4 family residential properties prepared by realtors in the State of New Jersey provide for a 3-business day Attorney Review period. One of the biggest mistakes residential property buyers can make is not asking a qualified attorney to review the contract prior to the conclusion of the Attorney Review period. A party’s ability to make changes to the contract during the Attorney Review period expires 3 business days after the contracts have been signed and received by all parties. During this time, changes can be made to the contract. Once both parties sign off on the changes, Attorney Review ends and the contract is finalized. In most cases I will find ways to modify contracts to better protect the interests of my clients.
There are generally three contingency provisions in the contract that protect the buyer and his/her deposit. These are the home inspection, mortgage commitment and title contingencies. If these contingencies are not satisfied, the buyer can generally cancel the contract and have the deposit returned.
Inspection of the home to be purchased should be scheduled right after the Attorney Review period ends. I suggest that you speak with 2 or 3 inspectors (I can provide a few recommendations), choose one and have the inspection done within the time frame allowed in the contract. This cost will be paid directly by you to the inspector. I personally advise my clients buying or selling homes which repairs to request or to agree to prior to closing. By providing this level of personal attention to your closing, I minimize the possibility of post-closing problems. Knowing that your real estate attorney is guiding you through this complex process and cares about your transaction minimizes the stress associated with real estate closings.
The area of real estate sales has been greatly complicated over the last few years. Environmental issues such as well water testing, oil tank inspection, asbestos and lead paint issues have all become top concerns. Additionally, new issues such as black mold and defective building materials have combined to further complicate the real estate purchase. As these concerns shift over time, New Jersey real estate lawyers must study new statutes, read new case law and take continuing legal education courses to stay current with these ever changing issues. My experience in handling these matters will help to assure the smoothest transaction possible.
My office can go through your inspection report with you step-by-step over the phone. I will then generate a letter to the seller’s side to rectify the inspection issues.
You will also need to obtain financing for your purchase, usually by taking a mortgage loan. I have worked with conventional, adjustable rate, LIBOR mortgages, FHA and VA loans as well as reverse mortgages and second mortgages.
Once the inspection issues are resolved and you have obtained a mortgage commitment, my office will order the title search and survey.
Title insurance will insure that you have clear legal title to the property. It takes my office approximately two weeks to obtain the title search. I will review the title search and then submit it to your mortgage company. The title search and title insurance policy cost is regulated by the State of New Jersey and is based upon the purchase price of the home. This cost will be paid at closing.
Aside from the attorney fee and mortgage costs, you will also incur inspection, title search and insurance, survey, escrows, insurance, recording costs and other costs.
You will need to make your home accessible for the buyer to have the inspection and appraisal done. You are also responsible to obtain a smoke detector certificate and carbon monoxide certificate and proof of one fire extinguisher as required for sellers per your municipality. You can contact your municipality or your realtor for assistance regarding the requirements specific for your town, since many towns also require a certificate of occupancy. Make sure you call at least 3-4 weeks before your closing and have the required number of working smoke detectors and a carbon monoxide detector before your scheduled inspection. It is imperative that you obtain these certificates, as you cannot close on your home without them.
It is helpful if you provide my office a copy of your title policy and survey. This helps speed up the title process and if your survey is recent, may help the buyer avoid the expense of a new survey. The buyer may ask that you sign an affidavit of no change to the property to be submitted with the old survey to his or her lender.
As it gets closer to the closing, it is also your responsibility to order a final water reading, oil tank reading (if applicable) and have your gas and cable companies switched to the buyer's name as of the date of closing.
Other expenses which you have paid through a date beyond the closing, such as taxes and sewer, will be pro-rated to you at closing. If you are not current on your taxes and sewer charges, these will be adjusted at closing.
If it is not convenient for you to attend, since you may be busy moving, you can come to my office at an earlier date to sign the necessary documents so that one of my attorneys can appear on your behalf at the closing.
You will need to move out before the closing and the home must be broom-swept clean and emptied of all your possessions. If you need to stay in the home for any days beyond the closing, my office can help you with a Use and Occupancy Agreement, if the Buyer is willing.
This is taking a new mortgage to pay off and replace your current mortgage(s). Usually this is done when the owner of the property can get a better rate of interest on the loan. The rule of thumb is to refinance if you are going to reduce your interest rate by at least one percent, but there are other factors to consider, such as the costs of the refinance.
A Co-Op is a hybrid between real and personal property. It is not considered real estate and the documents and process are therefore different. For example, instead of a Deed, you receive a Stock Certificate and Proprietary Lease. When you purchase a Co-Op, you are buying shares of stock in a corporation that owns real estate.
In the case of new construction, it is a good idea not to lock into a mortgage commitment until the construction nears completion and the builder provides us with a closing date within the next 2-3 months. This is because new construction closings often do not occur on time. If you get a mortgage commitment too early on, you may have to get extensions. My office will not order title until we are 2-3 months from closing. The closing cannot take place unless the builder obtains a certificate of occupancy. You cannot occupy the property or store any belongings in the property prior to the closing.
Once the certificate of occupancy is issued, the closing takes place within 14 days. The closing is usually held at the office of the attorney for the builder.
Even though the certificate of occupancy is issued, there may still be some minor work for the builder to complete. Before the closing, a punch list will be prepared between the parties for the builder to complete the work within 30-45 days after the closing. A new construction buyer usually cannot hold an escrow for the punch list items. If the builder does not comply, you will have to start suit against the builder.
The builder must also provide a 10 year new homeowner's warranty. As with any warranty, I recommend that a buyer read this carefully.
Real Estate transactions are governed by numerous federal and state statutes and laws that address a wide variety of legal issues relating to acquiring, financing, developing, managing, constructing, leasing and selling real estate. Buying and selling real estate is generally more complicated than buying or selling expensive goods, such as a car or boat. With real estate, many different people can have an interest in the same property, tax consequences are more complicated, and possession is not necessarily indicative of ownership.
For both buyers and sellers, the purchase or sale of real estate should not be viewed as a do-it-yourself venture. Residential and commercial real estate transactions include a multitude of legal concerns, from title issues to financing and collateral.
I want to be your attorney of first choice whether you need representation as a corporation, small business, or individual. Contact my office today for your free consultation.