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A Tale Of Two Transactions: Residential Real Estate Sales Contracts From The Buyer And Seller Perspectives

BOHEMIA, N.Y., Dec. 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Although it may appear to be the same home for sale, it can look like a very different process depending on which side of the table you are sitting. "Buyers are looking at ways to ensure they can move forward with the sale in a timely fashion, while sellers are looking to maximize their profit in the face of a slumping market," says Christine Perrucci Smith, an associate with the Long Island Law Firm of Roe Taroff Taitz and Portman, LLP, who concentrates her practice in residential real estate law, wills, trusts and estates. "When it comes to residential real estate transactions, there is no 'one size fits all' approach," says Smith. "A residential sales agreement is generally a boilerplate contract but provisions may be added, deleted, or amended to fit the unique circumstances of the transaction." Smith says it sometimes appears to be a tale of two transactions, and offers guidance for both buyers and sellers when it comes to working with their attorneys to complete a residential real estate transaction.


Smith will be one of the panelists of an upcoming real estate-focused discussion hosted by the Holbrook Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, January 9, 2014 from 6:30 – 8:30 pm. Details are available at

A Tale of Two TransactionsWhether you're the buyer or seller of a residential property, you can smooth the transaction by working with your attorney to ensure many details about the transaction are in place before you're sitting at the closing.

From the Buyer's PerspectiveThere are a few major items that any buyer should ascertain before moving forward to contract on a residential property, says Smith. Buyers need to:
  1. Check your financing. Buyers should get pre-qualified by their lender for the mortgage amount they can afford to spend, making sure they have a ready source of financing, before entering into a residential real estate contract.
  2. Get that inspection. Since most residential sales are considered "as is" under the law, buyers need to obtain a comprehensive home inspection before going to contract.
  3. Ask to see COs and permits. Many towns and cities have specific laws governing changes to the original home, such as expanding decks or building in-ground swimming pools. Buyers must understand importance of making sure that a proper certificate of occupancy (CO) or permit is in place for the property that reflects any changes.

From the Seller's PerspectiveThe seller is in charge of the transaction and has the responsibility for providing the necessary documentation to move the sale forward. It's in their best interest to make sure all the terms and conditions they want are included in the final, negotiated contract, says Smith. Sellers need to:
  1. Make sure you can sell the home. It may sound obvious, but a seller must have free and clear title, as well as the authority, to order to sell a home. If the home is the result of an estate or divorce proceeding, make sure you own the premises and have the right to sell it.
  2. Get your home in order. Be organized and make sure to have the proper documentation for the history of mortgages, COs and permits for your home. What exists on your property? Do you need a CO or permit that you don't hold? You may need to obtain a survey or pay a fee to obtain any missing permits. Also, make sure any previous mortgages have been satisfied and documentation has been filed.
  3. Maintain the home throughout the sale. Once a property is considered "under contract" the seller is obligated to maintain it "as is" or in the same condition it was at the time of the agreement. That means all appliances, plumbing, heating, air conditioning and electrical systems will be in "working order" at closing, unless otherwise agreed.

"When the parties are prepared and everyone understands their role and obligations in the process, it makes the residential real estate transaction a much smoother and happier experience for everyone involved," says Smith.

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