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Buying or Selling a Home
Your Lawyer is an Essential Member of Your Team

Residential Real Estate

Owning a home is the American dream. Buyers and sellers each need an experienced attorney able to represent their separate interests and guide them through the maze of brokers, engineers, lenders, contractors, appraisers, expediters and title closers. The wise buyer or seller will want an attorney on his team as soon as he decides to buy or sell. Most likely the attorney is the only person who has only the interests of the client at heart.  Before you look for a house, before you list a house; it is best to have an attorney on your side, looking out for your interests.

Selling a Home

Whether selling your own home or the home of a loved one who has died, it is a good idea to have an experienced real estate attorney involved from the beginning of the process. Issues may arise during the course of a sale that can significantly prolong or impede the process. For instance, there may be title issues as a result of a death in the family. A trust may be involved. Often the home has been owned for many years and changes have been made which require certificates of occupancy or other permits. Failure to have the proper documentation for these items can significantly delay a sale.  Frequently, a mortgage or other loan has been paid off but the lien was never satisfied as of record. These, as well as other matters, are more easily resolved if addressed as early in the process as possible. If not, they can delay the closing and diminish the seller's profit.

In addition, the Property Condition Disclosure Statement further complicates the sale of property. This statement, which real estate brokers are required by law to present to sellers, is a detailed questionnaire about the condition of the property. Sellers are asked to complete and sign this disclosure. Signing it has significant legal consequences that must be addressed. Sellers are not required to sign it, but this should be discussed with an attorney and this is best done before it is presented to the sellers.

Sellers are often selling one property and purchasing another. Sometimes it’s moving up; sometimes it’s to a smaller place. Sometimes it is to an adult community or to or from a condominium or cooperative. Each situation has its own issues. The importance of timing as a factor in making the transaction work smoothly cannot be overstated. An experienced attorney can juggle both transactions in the best interests of her client.

Purchasing a Home

Purchasing a home is one of the most important, expensive and stressful things a person will do in his or her life. From the moment a person decides to purchase a plot of land, purchase a new home to be built or an existing home he needs to go into this prospect with eyes wide open. Usually a buyer will approach a real estate broker and ask to be shown some properties.   The buyer must remember that unless he is the one paying the broker, the broker represents the seller. Anything the buyer discloses to the broker must be revealed to the seller.

Initially, the buyer must decide if a particular piece of property suits his needs. The buyer’s attorney is the only one concerned with whether this property at this price is right for this buyer. An experienced attorney will be able to provide vital information and ask questions or point things out the buyer never thought of.

The buyer needs to be aware of all the costs, both upfront and hidden, of purchasing and owning a particular piece of property. Although lenders are required to provide a “good faith estimate” of closing costs, the list of items provided are not the only expenses involved. Buyers need to know all the fees and expenses when shopping for a house or a mortgage. They need to know as much as possible about the condition of the property they are purchasing.  They need to know whether they can afford to purchase, own and maintain the property.


Both buyers and sellers must remember that if it is not in writing it has no effect. An attorney cannot represent both sides in a transaction. Your attorney is the only one representing you. The attorney’s loyalty is to her client. Have an experienced attorney on your side as soon as you decide to buy or sell.

Joan S. Arbiter has represented buyers, sellers, lenders and title companies for over 20 years. Fees for these transactions are traditionally flat fees payable at closing.  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Joan S. Arbiter, Attorney at Law, P.C.
445 Broad Hollow Road, Suite 205
Melville, NY  11747
Phone: (631) 249-1976
Fax: (631) 982-1476

Melville, New York attorney, Joan S. Arbiter, helps families and individuals throughout Nassau County, Suffolk County, and the New York Metro Area to resolve legal issues in the areas of elder law, Medicaid planning, estate planning, probate, and real estate. Long Island communities she serves include Amityville, Commack, Dix Hills, Farmingdale, Hauppauge, Hempstead, Huntington, Babylon, Levittown, Massapequa, Melville, Mineola, Plainview, and Woodbury.