Written by attorney Cheryl Lynn Fratello

Important Steps When Buying a Home in New York

You’ve found a new home and you are ready to buy, now what? As with any purchase, you should know what you are buying and understand the process for transferring ownership. Highlighted below are important steps to the purchase of your new home.


Once you have identified the home you consider buying, you should order a home inspection and termite inspection. A home inspection will allow you to evaluate the home’s structure and mechanical systems, spot items that require repair or replacement, and estimate the lifespan of the home’s electrical, plumbing and heating systems, among other things. A termite inspection identifies prior and immediate infestations, and may be conducted before or after the contract of sale is signed. Inspections can affect the negotiation price, your willingness to purchase the home and identify problems that may need to be remedied before the closing date.


After the inspections are completed, and if you have decided to move forward with the purchase, you will most likely be asked to sign a binder. A binder is a document that includes various details such as: the purchase price, down payment amounts, anticipated mortgage amount, realtor information, attorney information and an anticipated closing date. You should always make the binder subject to attorney approval. Read the binder carefully and if you don’t understand something, ask an attorney! Once the binder is signed, the realtor will typically forward a copy to the buyer’s and seller’s attorneys.

Contract of Sale

Once the attorneys receive the binder, the seller’s attorney will typically draft the contract of sale (downstate New York) and contract negotiation commences. The contract of sale identifies the parties, fixes the purchase price, down payment amount, describes the property being sold, and expresses the personal property that will be part of the sale. A real estate contract usually makes the sale contingent upon the buyer receiving a mortgage in good faith and much, much more. You should understand the terms of the contract and your rights. After the contact has been signed by both parties, the buyer typically delivers the down payment to the seller’s attorney to be held in escrow.

Title Report

A title report is ordered for the benefit of the buyer, lender and the title insurance company. It will disclose any liens, judgments, how the current sellers obtained title, potential boundary line issues, outstanding property violations, permits, property and/or school tax due, any bankruptcy filings by the buyer and other important information. Issues pertaining to the title usually must be resolved before the closing so that the buyers can obtain clear title. Title insurance is typically purchased on behalf of the buyer and lender at buyer’s cost. Title insurance protects the buyer against possible claims relating to the title of the property.


At the closing, title to the home is transferred to the new owners by deed and the buyer pays the seller the balance due. Adjustments to the amount due will often be made to allow for a tax credits and/or fuel credit. If the buyer is taking out a mortgage, the mortgage documents will be signed at the closing and the lender will supply the funds at the closing. After the closing, the title company most often brings the deed and mortgage to the county clerk’s office for recording.

Buying a home is a major investment and reliable, experienced professional guidance is a must.

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