Home Selling in Brownsville>Question Details

Jclubit, Home Buyer in Las Vegas, NV

For home sales in New York City, is a private attorney required for closing? I'm starting to question the payment I made to my agent's

Asked by Jclubit, Las Vegas, NV Wed May 2, 2012


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In order to best protect yourself, not sure why one would choose not to have an attorney....
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed May 2, 2012
An attorney is not a legal necessity, but anyone who tries to consummate a transaction involving a significant part of his total assets without competent legal representation deserves to be cheated out of everything.
Mayne Miller, Esq.
(718) 628-6669
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 6, 2015
I have been a Realtor for almost 18 years. Most of those years on the West coast. No Attorneys. Lots of disclosures, title and ESCROW as a Neutral party. New York has no Neutral party. Its buyer bewae and us againt them. Drives me crazy. The state does provide a standard contract that Realtors can use. Its just Taboo. The main reason an attorney is used is to use thier trust account. The monies need to go somewhere. Im not saying never ever use an attorney. Only if needed. And in 18 years only had one time an attorney was required. The seller lied and the buyer sued. All but seven states use the escrow process. It has been challanged in NY but the Lawyers lobeyest groups are giant. Ive just stay involved and communicate regulary. I dont just hand it over to an attorney. I know how to protect my sellers and buyers based on contractual content. I stay involved start to finish.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 15, 2013
Mr. Curran,
I proceeded with signing "important legal documents" 8 Times in the past and never had an issue. Between the Broker/agent, mortgage advisor, bank attorney, and a little common sense, anyone can do it WITHOUT a lawyer!

And I was also told that I could go to the table without an attorney as long as the seller's attorney agreed to it. It is not a LEGAL requirement under the law. It is common practice and highly recommended in NY but NOT a legal requirement.

My lawyer did go to closing. She basically READ the documents to me and went into lengthy explanations of things I already knew. I totally could have done it without her and would have had i known earlier it was NOT required by law. This is a myth that has been perpetuated by the legal community in order to grab a piece of the closing cost pie!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 4, 2012
You are correct, attorneys in NY often lie to people and tell them one is required. The fact is this is unethical and shameful on their part.
Flag Fri May 20, 2016
Hello, in order to a real estate transaction in New York, an attorney is required. If you need any further assistance please feel free to contact me.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 4, 2012
Incorrect, you do not need an attorney in NY. Read the laws, it is advisable only because NY has no standardized rules and regulations. It is a buyer beware state, but you are not required to have an attorney.
Flag Fri May 20, 2016
Good morning Jclubit,

It makes good sense to protect yourself with the single biggest purchase of your life by hiring an attorney who specializes in real estate transactions.

It is common here in New York to have an attorney represent the Buyer in a purchase transaction. I know elsewhere in the country this is not necessarily the case. Frankly, I can’t understand how anyone could proceed with signing important legal documents without an attorney present to review and advise.

A good real estate attorney seeks to do two things in a purchase transaction:

1. Protect her client. This includes a review and revision of the contract of sale to remove any harmful language/requirements. Also a review of the title report to verify there are no obstructions to you, the Purchaser, receiving a good "clean" title at closing. Lastly, a thorough review and explanation of the closing documents.

2. Help the Purchaser accomplish the goal of homeownership. A good real estate attorney understands that buying a home is a happy time: someone's dream is about to come true! Thus, the adversarial nature of the contract transaction gets toned down to a matter of reasonable conversations betwen the Purchaser's and Seller's attorneys. This isn't a lawsuit or divorce case, so the good real estate attorney has to tone down the rhetoric and find reasonable compromises---while still protecting his client---so that the goal of the contract is achieved: a home purchase.

Hope that helps!

Trevor Curran
NMLS #40140
Mobile: 516-582-9181
Office: 516-829-2900
Fax: 516-829-2944
PowerHouse Solutions, Inc.
185 Great Neck Rd, Suite 240
Great Neck NY 11021
Licensed Mortgage Banker – NYS Dept. of Financial Services
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 5, 2012
Dear Brownsville,
I had the same question. I moved here from VA 2 years ago and was shocked when I was told I must have an attorney to buy a home on Long Island! I have been either the buyer or seller in 8 separate real estate transactions and never needed an attorney involved once. I also never had any issues with any of my 8 real estate transactions. Certainly none that my broker or title company couldn't handle. I know how to read a contract and I am not an uneducated first time home-buyer.

I find this requirement to be added un-necessary cost, aggravation, time delays, and muddy's the waters. The two people who should be pivotal in the transaction (buyers and sellers) are often unaware of what the "attorneys" are hashing out behind the scenes. It seems it benefits one person most of all - and it's not the buyer or seller! I don't like someone else making my decisions when it's my money on the line.
Only in NY would you be forced to pay well over $1000 to someone for a service that you are fully capable of handling yourself! And yes, In this economy, paying for an attorney you don't need is a waste of precious $$!
Missing Virginia and stuck in over-taxed, over politicized, Miller Place, NY!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 4, 2012
No. An attorney is not required to close in New York City. However, even attorneys who are buying for themselves will hire an attorney who specializes in real estate to represent them.

Some large companies provide their relocating employees with paralegals to close on their apartments. We used such a paralegal for a purchase once, and she was fantastic.

So, the person acting as your attorney does not need to be a lawyer. But as others have said, New York City is so complex that no one I know buys or sells without someone who really knows the law.

There are strict laws in New York State about referrals and payments to persons associated with a real estate transaction. If you think you have been taken advantage of, contact the New York State Department of State, Licensing Division, in Albany to inquire. It will take a few phone calls but there are knowledgeable people in our state who will advise you.

What I would do in your situation is hire a competent real estate attorney right away, and that could solve your whole problem. If you send me an email, I will send you a link to my blog post with lawyer names.

Karla Harby
Licensed Real Estate Salesperson
Rutenberg Realty
New York, NY
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 3, 2012
I completely agree with my colleague - while it is not a legal requirement that you be represented by an attorney in a real estate transaction, NY real estate is so complex and arcane that it would be foolhardy to attempt to either buy or sell without one. it's a small price to pay for the reassurance their expertise brings.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 2, 2012
Dear Jclubit:

From a legal perspective it is not required for you to have an attorney. However, I will say that in the 20 years that I have been a real estate agent, I have never done a deal where the buyer and/or seller did not have an attorney. I once had a buyer who tried to go without an attorney, but we could not make the deal because the seller's attorney refused to do the deal due to the fear that if there was a problem he and the seller could be opening themselves up to a law suit.

Besides, you need an attorney to protect your best interests, that is their fiduciary responsibililty. Do not be penny wise and dollar foolish, make sure you get an attorney! If you are having an issue, you should seek the assistance of another attorney that you find yourself. There are thousands of them in Brooklyn and they are not hard to find! If you want you can even contact me and I can refer you to a good one.

In addition, if I can be of further assistance, feel free to contact me. Good luck!

Mitchell S. Feldman
Associate Broker/ Director of Sales
Madison Estates & Properties, Inc.
Office: (718) 645-1665/ Cell: (917) 805-0783
Email: MitchellSFeldman@aol.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 2, 2012
My mom is selling a house to me in NY, so we are not worried about protecting ourselves from each other. Can we just handle this real estate transaction ourselves?
Flag Fri Jun 5, 2015
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