Real estate agents and lawyers are integral parts of the New York home buying experience. It is important for buyers to know the specific roles for each in order for you to address your concerns to the right party.
Real Estate Agents
We have discussed the importance of an exclusive buyer’s agent, and his/her fiduciary duty owed to you. The agent is your initial contact, and hiring one is a very important decision for the buyer. He/she helps you formulate your budget, discuss your options, and the differences between wants and needs to assist you in targeting the right desirable properties.
Your agent also knows the different neighborhoods, buildings, and the current market, and he/she can help you formulate an offer based on this expert knowledge. This is an integral part of the process, including looking at comparable sales. But, this is not as easy as it seems, and there is also a certain art to making an offer. An exclusive buyer’s agent must use his/her knowledge to help you obtain the best price. There is also more to your offer than the price, such as which items to include or exclude, and your agent can advise you on whether you should include contingencies (generally, the fewer, the better, but he/she is in the best position to judge individual circumstances), or waive others such as the mortgage contingency clause.
Following your initial offer, you could receive a counter offer, and your agent will advise you on the next course of action. If there is a bidding war, your agent knows how to handle this situation. Your agent will also let you know when he/she thinks it is best to drop out of the process.
At this point, your agent and you start the search process. When you find a property and have your offer accepted, you then have an inspection. Your agent can recommend qualified home inspectors, and even accompany you while the inspection is conducted. At this point, your lawyer takes a more prominent role.
Real Estate Attorneys
Your agent and attorney work together to negotiate any issues that arise from the inspection. Then, your communication will shift more towards your attorney, whom you may have hired based on your agent’s recommendation.
Typically, in New York, the seller’s attorney sends over the contract’s first draft. The documents are sent back and forth between the lawyers as the parties hammer out the terms. This includes the amount and timing of the down payment, which your lawyer will segregate in an escrow account, along with the closing date.
Your lawyer conducts due diligence on your behalf. He/she orders a title search to make sure it is “clean,” along with working with you to ensure you have the proper documents to send to your lender within the required period. He/she disperses the funds to the various parties, such as the amount due to the seller and the corresponding amount to the seller’s lender, the title company, the agents’ commission, particularly at closing.
Lastly, your lawyer reviews and advises you regarding the closing documents. Once you sign these forms, he/she hands you the keys, and you are a proud homeowner.