Questions Frequently Asked By First-Time Homebuyers
Contemplating your first home purchase is a big investment of both your time and your money. For some people, it will be their biggest financial investment – and certainly most long-term – to date. The effort to complete the process can seem like a full-time job to ensure that all your decisions are final and the paperwork is submitted before the various deadlines. Missing a deadline could result in having to start the process all over or, worse, losing your deposit.
Seeking counsel from an experienced New York real estate lawyer early in the process is wise. New York law requires a licensed attorney to prepare your deed and mortgage for real estate purchases in the state.
Our attorneys at Duggan & Pawlowski LLP have decades of combined experience. We can provide the trusted real estate counsel, representation and legal advocacy that you need to complete your first home purchase. Here are brief answers to some of the questions that first-time homebuyers frequently ask us. For legal advice and representation, you may call our office in Buffalo or send us an email to schedule a consultation.
Do we really need a lawyer to buy our first home in New York?
The law does not mandate having an attorney for the entire process, but a first-time homebuyer will need an exceptional real estate agent who does a lot of hand-holding in the initial phases. It is not advisable to continue the process without speaking with an attorney. You will have to engage an attorney to draft your deed and mortgage. Non-attorneys who draft certain real estate documents will be subject to misdemeanor charges for doing so.
Should we get mortgage preapproval before house hunting?
Yes. When you know how much you can afford, it will narrow your search for homes. Select a reputable mortgage lender to determine how much they would prequalify you for a home loan. It is also critical to do an authentic inventory of your finances. Consider how much you are able and willing to commit to mortgage payments for the term of your mortgage. You do not have to choose a home that would take the entire amount that the lender offers.
Does the seller draft the contract for purchase?
No. New York has a standard residential purchase contract that is usually prepared by your realtor. When the contract is fully complete and accurate, it is then signed by you and the seller of the property. Your attorney and the seller’s attorney review and approve the contract.
Do we have to sign the purchase contract with an attorney present?
No, the law does not mandate that you sign your purchase contract in the presence of your real estate lawyer. However, it is highly advisable not to sign anything before your attorney reviews it. You and your attorney can discuss your needs and any circumstances about the property that need to be addressed in the purchase contract. Your attorney and the seller’s attorney each have three days to approve, disapprove or approve with conditions.
What happens if the seller does not want to negotiate changes? Can we cancel our purchase contract?
Yes, but you have a narrow window of time in which to do so. Generally, initial changes or cancellations can occur within two days of signing the contract. There are other times to do it during the course of the process, as well, which is outlined in the purchase contract, such as when the property inspection report is unsatisfactory and the seller does not want to budge on lowering the price.
Follow this link to read and download our step-by-step process relating to the purchase of your new home.
Can you help us with buying our first home?
It is wise to seek an experienced lawyer for help when you are buying your first home. We closed more than 800 real estate transactions last year. Call our office in Buffalo at 716-575-5529 for a consultation and to engage a knowledgeable attorney for your real estate purchase. If you prefer, you may send us an email.