5 Steps for Buying a Home in New York State

By NYSBA Lawyer Referral Service

December 19, 2022

5 Steps for Buying a Home in New York State


By NYSBA Lawyer Referral Service


Practical information on buying a home in New York State

The home inspection is one of the most important steps in buying a house. In New York State, home inspectors are licensed and trained to check for very specific things.

The typical home inspection should include a report on the following in the home:

heating and cooling systems,
electrical system,
and basement (if applicable).
The results of the home inspection can change the negotiation price for sale of the home, the buyer’s willingness to purchase the home, and it can identify problems and issues that may need to be fixed before the closing date.


The Binder
After the inspection is finished and the buyer has decided to purchase the home, the buyer will be asked to sign a binder.

A binder is a document that includes details about the sale:

purchase price,
down payment amounts,
anticipated mortgage amount,
realtor information,
attorney information, and
expected closing date.

Contract of Sale
Once the binder is finalized by both parties, the seller’s attorney will draft the contract of sale. This is when the contract negotiations start.

The contract of sale identifies the selling parties, fixes the purchase price of the property, the downpayment amount, and describes the property being sold.

It is crucial that the buyer and seller both understand the terms of the contract and the rights of both parties. After the contract has been signed, the buyer will deliver the down payment to the seller’s attorney to be held in escrow.

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, the lender, and the title insurance company.

The title report discloses any liens or judgements on the property, how the current seller obtained title to the property, potential property line issues, outstanding property violations, permits, outstanding property tax, and any bankruptcy filings by the buyer.

Typically all issues pertaining to the title of the property must be resolved prior to closing so that the buyer can obtain “clear title.”

Title insurance is commonly purchased on behalf of the buyer and lender, at the buyer’s cost. Title insurance protects the buyer against possible claims relating to the title of the property.

Closing is when the home officially becomes the buyer’s. At the closing, title to the property is transferred to the new owners by deed and the buyer pays the seller the balance due.

If the buyer is taking out a mortgage, the mortgage documents will also typically be signed at the closing.

After the closing, the title company will typically bring the deed and mortgage to the county clerk’s office for recording. You should ensure that this is done.

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