My friend just told me I need to hire a lawyer to buy a house. Is this true? I bet her a coke she was wrong! Hah!

Asked by Amy Sherman, Brooklyn, NY Fri Mar 8, 2013

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Mitchell Feldman’s answer
Mitchell Fel…, Agent, Brooklyn, NY
Fri Mar 8, 2013
Dear Amy:

Anyone who gives you an answer from out of New York State is probably going to give you misinformation. The bottom line is that in New York State all real estate contracts of sale have to be drawn up by the principle or their attorney. Real estate agents in New York are prohibited by law to author a contract. In my 20 years of selling homes in Brooklyn, I have never witnessed a seller author their own contract, it has always been the seller's attorney. I have done thousands of transactions and I have never had a deal where the buyer did not have an attorney as well.

If you were to actually read a contract of sale, you would see why you need an attorney. This link will show you what a standard contract of sale would look like in Brooklyn:

Most people would have a hard time understanding all that, not to mention the fact that the actual contract in a deal will also have a rider added to the contract with even more details and stipulations based on the individual deal criteria.

If you do not have an attorney, there is no doubt in my mind that the seller's attorney will draw up a very lopsided contract favoring the seller and you would not even know it. I have never done a deal with a buyer or seller not being represented by an attorney. Even if I did, I would make sure I had a disclosure form signed by the buyer indicating that I advised the buyer that "I have been advised that it would be in my best interest to have an attorney represent me but I am electing to represent myself". The seller's attorney would also want you to sign a similar disclosure. The reason for that is because there are legal presidents set where buyers without an attorney got very hurt and went so far as to try and sue the real estate agent, sellers and or seller's attorney crying fraud.

Although having an attorney is not required by law, the reality is that if you do not have an attorney you are opening yourself up to getting hurt. If I can be of further assistance please contact me direct. Good luck!

Mitchell S. Feldman
Associate Broker/ Director of Sales
Madison Estates & Properties, Inc.
Office: (718) 645-1665/ Cell: (917) 805-0783
2 votes
Can a NY attorney do the closing for a house in NJ?
Flag Thu Nov 2, 2017
Javier Menes…, Mortgage Broker Or Lender, Melville, NY
Fri Mar 8, 2013
Amy, you better buy her a coke now then! In NY you will need an attorney to represent you on your Real Estate purchase. First you get pre-approved by a lender, then you search for houses that fit your budget with a Realtor, once you find a property and come to an agreement with the seller, THEN you'll need to hire a Real Estate attorney who you will sign your sales contract with. Hope this answers your question!

Javier Meneses
Senior Loan Officer
NMLS #23130
310 Crossways Park Drive
Woodbury, NY 11797
(516) 606-9648
2 votes
Jim Olive, Agent, Key West, FL
Sun Mar 10, 2013
Mitchell seems to have the correct answer...the contract can be drawn up by the principle or their attorney...Sounds like you won the coke! You SHOULD have an attorney, because the seller will have one and you don't want to go to a gunfight without a gun! But it sounds like you don't HAVE to have one, since you would be the Principle and you would have the right to draw up your own contract. I have the right to drink battery acid, but it's not a good idea. Enjoy that Coke...
1 vote
Flag Mon Mar 11, 2013
Lior Raviv, Agent, woodhaven, NY
Tue Nov 5, 2013
Hello Amy,

Yes your friend is correct you are going to need an attorney to represent you in your home purchase. Its in your best interest..
0 votes
Bev West, Agent, Greeley, CO
Mon Nov 4, 2013
Coming from Colorado, my answer is no.
0 votes
My NC Homes…, Agent, Chapel Hill, NC
Sun Mar 17, 2013
You need a lawyer to handle to handle the closing and in NY (unlike most other states) lawyers get involved in contract negotiations.
0 votes
R Wright, Other Pro, NY,
Mon Mar 11, 2013
Hello Amy - No bank lending to you in New York State will fund the loan without a buyers attorney.
0 votes
David Zybin, , Brooklyn, NY
Mon Mar 11, 2013
Would you sign-up for professional boxing match if you took ballet lessons in high school?
You NEED an attorney to represent you, because you need a professional to protect your interest in the transaction. Although you are not required to retain services of an attorney for real estate transaction, I can not imagine why you would go against a trained professional (seller's lawyer) in contract terms negotiations, known issues work outs, closing procedure, etc. Thank your friend for good advice.
0 votes
Michael Denn…, Agent, Queens, NY
Sun Mar 10, 2013
Amy, apart from being required by New York state when buying real estate, your attorney is there to protect your interests. A purchase contract is issued by the seller's attorney with terms favorable to the seller. Your attorney will ensure that the contract is balanced, and represent your interests throughout the process, especially at your closing.

I have extensive experience helping first time buyers become successful homeowners throughout NYC and nearby suburbs. I can be reached directly at 917.699.0183 for more information or assistance. Follow me on twitter @mdenniston247.

I value your feedback. Please hit the thumbs up, if my reply was helpful. All the best.

Michael Denniston l Cell: (917) 699-0183
Residential Home Funding, Corp.
Licensed Mortgage Loan Originator l Sales Manager
6901 Jericho Turnpike Ste. 219 | Syosset, NY 11791
Main: (516) 605-1733 | Fax: (888) 881-2557
NMLS # 24076 | Company NMLS # 34973
0 votes
Ann Zemaitis, Agent, 10013, NY
Fri Mar 8, 2013
Brooklyn-- absolutely. Even lawyers I have as clients hire real estate lawyers to represent them in real estate transactions. Outside of NY there are closing agents, etc., but I still wouldn't even consider doing a deal without representation personally. They're there to protect you, your rights, your purchase. They handle everything from details of contract negotiation to ordering the title search (want to buy a house the person selling doesn't actually own and get scammed???). Furthermore, where's your deposit going? Your lawyer's escrow account, the seller's escrow account? What happens if the deal falls apart, they don't sign the contract and you want your money back. Who's going to get it for you? I could go on and on and on listing all the reasons why. Yes, you definitely owe her a coke...a small price to pay than actually trying to buy a house without a lawyer in NYC.
0 votes
Madeline Pad…, Agent, Brooklyn, NY
Fri Mar 8, 2013
Hi Amy - Yes you will need a owe her a COKE. Hah.

In the 5 boroughs of Brooklyn, we do not prepare the contracts and all the necessary legal documents. That is why you need a lawyer for yourself to protect you, after you have worked with a Realtor to help you find that dream home. We guide you through the whole process up until that
point. First get pre-approved, or better yet qualified, then start your search. We will guide you through all negotiations and once the seller and you agree to the price and terms, it goes forward to your attorney. If you have any other questions please feel free to contact me. good luck and don't make
any more bets - except for Cokes.
0 votes
Roland Vinya…, Agent, Sprakers, NY
Fri Mar 8, 2013
Technically, you are not required to have an attorney to buy or sell. It can be done. HOWEVER, most individuals are unable to do the things an attorney would otherwise do for you. What will probably happen if you go unrepresented is that the other side's lawyer will get frustrated and will take up some of the slack and of course charge you something for what he does. I have seen that happen a number of times and I live in fear of having a buyer and seller BOTH decline to employ an attorney. Only twice on over 30 years of full-time practice have I seen an individual able to do the work that his attorney would do.
0 votes
Tim Moore, Agent, Kitty Hawk, NC
Fri Mar 8, 2013
A lawyer will be involved at some point, so split the cake. You can get a Realtor to help find a house to make an offer on and then they will guide you the rest of the way. NY has a lawyer review law of some sort which sounds bizarre to the rest of the country since we don't have such a thing.
0 votes
Funny response ;)
Flag Mon Mar 11, 2013
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