Things to Know if Buying or Selling Your Home

Real Estate can be complicated. Keep these tips in mind if you are buying or selling your property. 

Navigating the complexities of real estate transactions in New York can be a daunting task, whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or an experienced property seller. At The Law Office of Alan Joseph, we understand the intricacies and legal nuances that come with buying or selling a property. With over four decades of experience in real estate law, our firm is dedicated to guiding you through every step of the process, ensuring that your transaction is as smooth and stress-free as possible. From understanding the critical role of the Property Condition Disclosure Statement (PCDS) to navigating the nuances of closing dates and mortgages, our expert team is here to provide you with the comprehensive legal support you need.

Real estate transactions involve a myriad of details that require careful attention and expert handling. Whether it’s dealing with mortgages, liens, and property violations, or understanding the implications of oil and propane credits, taxes, and water services on your transaction, The Law Office of Alan Joseph is equipped to handle all your concerns. Our commitment to providing personalized and thorough legal services is reflected in our approach to each case. We take pride in our deep understanding of the local real estate market, especially in the Hudson Valley area, and our ability to tailor our services to meet your unique needs. Join us as we delve into the essential things you need to know when buying or selling your home in New York.

Cartoon graphic of two hands shaking over a house with a sold sign.
  • Property Condition Disclosure Statement (PCDS) – More than 20 years ago New York State passed a law which now requires most sellers to provide a prospective buyer a PCDS which details the history and condition of the home. A Seller who chooses not to give the PCDS must instead give the Buyer a $500 credit at closing. Most sellers give the credit rather than the PCDS since any chance of an error or omission in the PCDS will give rise to a claim and possible lawsuit by the Buyer against the Seller after closing.
  • Closing Date– Most Contracts set the closing dates as “on or about” a particular date. That means that the closing date is not set in stone and neither the Buyer nor the Seller should plan on the closing occurring on that particular date. The date in the contract is merely a target date which will therefore give flexibility to both Buyer to arrange financing, title search, survey, obtain clearance from the lender to close the loan, and Seller to arrange future housing and schedule the move. The closing date in the contract can be off by as much as 30 days before the purchaser may be alleged in default.
  • Mortgages/Liens/Violations – Seller must advise the attorney of any liens, judgments, Homeowners Associations and dues requirements, outstanding mortgages and home equity loans or lines of credit, and any building code violations that may exist on the home, so the closing occurs as smoothly as possible.
  • Survey – A current survey will locate the property boundaries as well as surface structures on the property, including the house, driveway, decks, pool, shed, fence, etc. It can be helpful to the Buyer if the Seller has an existing survey. The Title Company will send out an agent to inspect the premises and note any additions or changes to the property from the original survey. The cost to the Buyer will be substantially less than obtaining a new survey from a surveyor.
  • Oil Credit and/or Propane Credit– Seller is entitled to a credit at closing for the value of fuel oil (and possibly propane) left in the home at the time of closing provided a proper reading is obtained shortly before closing based on actual measurements taken by the oil company. Buyer is therefore obligated to reimburse Seller for the actual amount remaining in the tank at the current market value. That reimbursement will be paid at closing and added to the total amount due for the sale price of the home.
  • Taxes – At closing, Seller is entitled to a prorated credit from the Buyer for any property and school taxes which have been prepaid by Seller for the current fiscal tax year. State/County/Town taxes are usually paid yearly and the fiscal year runs from January 1 to December 31. School taxes are usually paid in September. However, the fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30 and the proration is based on the July to June timeframe. If the property is located within a village, the same reasoning applies. The fiscal year may vary, depending on the village. This reimbursement will also be added to the monies due Seller at closing.
  • Water – If the home is serviced by municipal water, a final water meter reading will need to be obtained prior to closing.
  • Closing Inspection – At closing, Buyer is entitled to possession of the home immediately after the closing occurs, vacant and broom clean. An inspection is usually performed by the Buyer shortly before closing to ensure the home is in vacant and broom clean condition, and in relatively the same condition as when the Buyer first signed the Contract of Sale. If there are any changes such as damaged items, nonworking appliances, or garbage or items remaining on the premises, Buyer may be entitled to an offset of the Purchase Price or can insist that the closing not go forward until the issue is remedied.
  • Bank or Certified Check – At closing, Seller will usually insist on some, or all, of the funds be paid by bank or certified check. A personal check will usually not be accepted, nor will a credit card payment. A bank check is sometimes referred to as a cashier’s check, certified check or official bank check and is a check issued by a bank after the funds have been withdrawn from the depositor’s account thereby placing a hold on those monies and guaranteeing that the stated amount was in the depositor’s account and is available for immediate transfer.