Surely, you have heard the expression that the devil is in the details. This applies to real estate transactions as well. Many people assume the contract is boilerplate, but that is indeed not the case. This is where riders come into play.
What are the contract riders?
When you make an offer, a standard contract with the basic terms, including your offer price, is sent back and forth between the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent. Once both parties agree to the terms, it goes to the attorneys for due diligence.
The initial contract usually includes a paragraph that mentions provisions will be added, deleted, or altered. Lawyers accomplish this with separate documents, called riders, which address the unique circumstances. While these should not change the basic terms that the two parties have agreed on, lawyers typically include language that the riders supersede anything agreed to in the initial purchase and sale agreement.
Why do I need a rider?
The purpose of a rider is to protect your interests. While contract riders involve a lot of nitty-gritty details that may seem trivial, your lawyer is putting in language that protects you.
Riders typically expand on the terms included in the purchase and sale contract. Generally, it is not the time to renegotiate certain items, such as the purchase price. Typically, your lawyer will include things such as sellers paying for the necessary repairs needed after an inspection. Your lawyer might also state the timeline for a final walkthrough, what is included, in the final sale, and the closing date. The seller should also indicate the apartment’s general condition, including that it is leak-free, and the appliances are in good working order.
The rider will also state what happens if the seller is unable to close on time. Typically, he/she must pay you to lease back, and your lawyer will indicate the amount. If there are unique circumstances, your lawyer will address these in the rider.
The riders are negotiable and typically go back and forth between the attorneys.
As you might expect, when you are purchasing a co-op, this requires special consideration. Given the necessary board approval, your lawyer may want to put in language regarding the timing and what happens to your deposit if you are denied. The board likely wants to interview you, and the rider should mention timing.
Your lawyer may ask the seller to acknowledge that the co-op board approved any significant changes done to the unit. Otherwise, the board may delay your closing while the seller gains their compliance.
A rider’s limits
Mostly, there are no limits to what a seller or buyer can put into a contract rider. A buyer or seller can make unreasonable demands, and it is generally legal. Illegal provisions typically relate to discrimination based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or anything else forbidden by federal, New York State, or New York City housing laws.
Landlords can also have riders on the standard leasing contract. These might relate to him/her requiring rental insurance and the landlord’s requirement to put in window guards. But you should read it carefully. As the form gets longer, the likelihood of the landlord’s demands is unreasonable increases.