Home Seller's guide
(house, condominum and co-operative).

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How home inspections can effect the deal:

Negotiation does not necessarily stop when you and the buyer have agreed on a price.   Most house and condo buyers will insist on a home inspection by an engineer or a home inspector.   While less common in co-ops, the buyer may want a home inspection as well.   The contract can contain a clause allowing the inspection to be done before or after the contract is signed.   Your lawyer is likely to recommend that the inspection be done BEFORE the contract is signed.

Every home inspection will find things wrong with the home.   Unless the home is brand new, there will always be something that shows up on the inspection report.   You should always keep your offer slightly above your bottom line in case there needs to be some adjustment after the home inspection.   Small things can either be fixed by you or simply ignored.   Larger things such as termites, bad roof, boiler or leaking basement may be deal breakers.   If you know that you have these problems, you might want to fix them before showing the house.   If they show up in the inspection for the first time, you may want to consider fixing them or making an adjustment in the sales price.   Assume that any potential buyer will find the same problems.

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Hiring a lawyer.

In New York State both the Buyer and the Seller are represented by attorneys.   Most people find their attorney through a recommendation which can come from family, friends, a local bar association or through Internet searches.   Be a little cautious of a recommendation from the real estate broker/agent.   The attorney is obligated to work for your best interests, not the broker's or buyer's.

Ask the attorney about what fields she/he practices in and how much experience she/he has.   Most lawyers who do real estate closings, handle other types of matters as well.   Just make sure that she/he has substantial experience with real estate closings.

It is customary in NYS for the Seller's attorney to draft the contracts and to forward them to the Buyer's attorney.   The Buyer's attorney will review the contracts and make suggested changes.   The contracts are often amended several times between the lawyers before they are signed.   The buyer signs before the seller signs but the buyer cannot apply for their mortgage until the seller has signed the contracts.

It is important that the terms of the contract are clear and that you understand them.   Your lawyer should be wiling to take the time to fully explain them to you. The main clauses to be reviewed are: personal property and appliances included and guaranteed to be in working condition, the closing date, mortgage contingency clause, the date you will give up possession (if different than the closing date), and any guarantees regarding plumbing, heating and electrical systems.

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Your contract.

The following are some of the more important parts of the contract to discuss with your lawyer:

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Get ready for your closing.

It's common for a closing date to be scheduled within a few weeks of the receipt of the buyer's commitment letter.   To prepare for the closing, you will need the following:
  1. Make sure that your lawyer has obtained the "payoff letter(s)" for your mortgages.   This will say how much has to be paid back if the closing takes place on a specific date.   It will also include a "daily" amount for every day after that day that payment has not been made.   Usually, the bank(s) or title company will require you to pay 1-3 days daily interest until the check is received by them.
  2. You must make the home available for a final inspection by the buyers.   This is usually arranged by the broker/agent.   If you are staying in the home after the closing, there will be an additional inpection after you leave and before any escrow money is released.
  3. Get a copy of your most up to date water bill so that can be adjusted at the closing.
  4. If you have an oil tank, have the oil company come and take a reading of how much oil is in the tank.   The buyer must pay for the oil at closing.
  5. Bring picture identification for you and all other sellers.
  6. If you cannot be at the closing, make sure that there is a proper Power of Attorney form.
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