With the pandemic-fueled surge in real estate sales, chances are that either you or someone close to you has recently been involved in buying and/or selling real estate. When selling a property, many people ask, “Do I really need an attorney?” While there is no legal requirement to retain counsel, utilizing the services of an attorney who is experienced in the field of real estate will undoubtedly make the transition as smooth as possible. That said, being knowledgeable about the process of selling a property will make you a better consumer. Below are the basics from start to finish:

Step One: Put your property up for sale. This can be achieved by listing your property “for sale by owner” or through a real estate agent, who will help you navigate the process. The seller is usually responsible for paying the agent(s) commissions.

Step Two: Accepting an offer. Once there is an offer that the seller is comfortable with, seller and the potential purchaser will execute an “offer to purchase,” also known as a “binder.” Once signed, a property inspection will typically follow.

Step Three: Contracts. If all goes well with the inspection, the seller’s attorney will draft a proposed contract of sale and submit it to the purchaser’s attorney. The purchaser’s attorney will then respond with comments. Once the contract is signed by both parties, the down payment will be provided by the purchaser and the parties will be officially “in contract.”

Step Four: Mortgage commitment and title. If applying for a mortgage, the purchaser will typically have 45 days to obtain a mortgage commitment. Meanwhile, the purchaser’s attorney will order a title report that will insure the purchase of the property, which contains pertinent information such as department of building violations and open mortgages. Once the report is obtained, the attorneys will “clear title” to ensure there are no encumbrances left on the property.


Step Five: Closing. The contract of sale will have an “on or about” closing date, which will typically vary up to 30 days before and 30 days after. While pre-pandemic closings took place at either the seller’s attorney’s office or the lending bank, now it is not uncommon for documents to be pre-signed by the seller, thereby avoiding his or her attendance. When the closing takes place, all documents will be executed by the purchaser, funding will take place, payment will be made to the seller, and the sale will be considered “closed.”

Angiuli & Gentile, LLP, Attorneys at Law
1493 Hylan Boulevard / aglawnyc.com / 718.816.0005