Gary B. Kline, Esq.
Your closing is my reputation!

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Most people sell a house only a few times in their lives. My philosophy is that a seller should learn about the process because knowledge will lessen any anxiety.  My first and best advice for my sellers is to build a team of experienced professionals (realtor and lawyer) to assist them in the process.  I bring over 27 years of real estate experience and thousands of successful transactions to your closing table.  Armed with knowledge and the right team of experienced professionals you can have a smooth closing experience.  Below I have provided you with a time line of sorts so you can appreciate the steps and complexity of your transaction.

Overview of Selling a House From Your Attorney's Perspective

1)  Prep Your Home for Sale

Preparing your house for sale is perhaps the most time consuming part of the transaction.  In order to sell your house, for the most money, you will need to un-clutter  and clean your home.  This does not mean just some bleach and a broom!  You will also need to think about the best way to "stage" your home.  A fresh coat of paint can go a long way.  You should also think about removing  some of your extra furniture and nic-nacks so that so your rooms look more spacious and inviting.  Don't forget about the outside as you strive for "curb appeal".  Cut the grass and bushes and prune your trees.  Once you have the house in A-1 shape it is time to "price it right" for the market.  Pricing a house right is of paramount importance and usually  means more foot traffic and hopefully a quicker sale. 

2)  List with a Realtor or FSBO.

Some people believe that they can go it alone and simply stick a "For Sale" sign in their front lawn.  If your street has a lot of traffic and if you wait long enough that might work.  However, most sellers need the assistance and expertise of a professional Realtor.  I have provided a list of many of the local Realtors on my Links page.  A Realtor can prove invaluable since they have access to the MLS and other marketing methods such as newspapers, internet exposure and open houses.  Your Realtor is referred to as the "Listing Agent/Broker" and they will have you sign a listing agreement which is a legal contract outlining your commission arrangement. 

3)  Offer + Acceptance = Contract.

Once listed, your home should be receiving some foot traffic.  If a prospective buyer likes the home they may make you an offer to purchase. If the buyer has a Realtor then the Realtor, who makes the offer on behalf of the buyer, is referred to as the "Selling Agent/Broker". If the offer is not to your liking you can reject it and then "do the dance" and negotiate further until you have an acceptable offer.  Once you sign the offer to purchase you have a legally binding contract.  Note that pursuant to the Statute of Frauds all contracts for real estate have to be in writing and signed by all parties (all buyers and sellers) and any revisions or modifications likewise have to be in writing and initialed by all. The listing broker will forward a copy of the accepted contract for my  review, preferably the same day you accepted it.  The standard Broome County contract has an attorney review provision which is "time sensitive" so you should not delay or you could possibly be waiving my review.  I will review the contract with you and will stress the important provisions. 

4) Wait for Contingencies to be Satisfied.

Your buyer undoubtedly included various contingencies in the contract such as financing, inspections, etc... Note that the standard contract has specific time frames to satisfy the contingencies.  A buyer  must be vigilant to do everything in a timely manner.  The results of inspections often result in the parties renegotiating for repairs to be made and/or a credit given to the buyer.  Any changes to the terms and conditions of the original contract need to be in writing signed by all parties.

5)  Forward Your Abstract of Title and Tax and Mortgage Information to me.

You should forward to me your original Abstract of Title and copies of your taxes and mortgage statement(s).  I will update your abstract and forward same to the buyer's attorney along with the current tax information.  I will also order a tax certificate which is a search of the taxes for past years.  You should also continue to pay all mortgage payments until I tell you to stop.  Additionally, you should continue insurance, heat and other utilities until I advise you differently.  Remember that the buyer is afforded a "walk through" of the house, a few days prior to closing, with all utilities in operation.

6)  Closing!

After your buyer satisfies or waives all contingencies and after the buyer's lender has authorized the loan to close a closing will be scheduled taking into account the schedules of the buyer/buyer's attorney, seller/seller's attorney and the lender.  Note that the closing date on your contract is normally an "on or about date" and not carved in stone.  Scheduling a closing date/time often requires cooperation by all parties as you need to movers out and the buyer needs to move in.  Once a date/time is agreed upon I will contact you and discuss final closing details such as ordering payoff statements for open mortgage(s), ordering a final water reading, fuel oil readings, electric and gas reading, etc... Each property is unique and the adjustments and calls made will vary depending on the homes location and utilities. I will then prepare a Statement of Sale which prorates applicable taxes.  I will forward same to the buyer's attorney.  The buyer's lender will then compile all costs on a form called a Closing Disclosure (CD).  Closing is a special day when you will sell your home.  You will meet me at closing where I will review the Seller's CD with you as well as have you sign all the transfer documents which I will have previously prepared.  If you can not attend the closing we can have you pre-sign the documents.  We often mail paperwork to sellers to return to me so I can attend closing on their behalf.  Closings normally last between 60-90 minutes.  I pride myself in thoroughly explaining the important legal documents to you.  I do not want you to leave the closing with no idea of what you just signed!  In fact, if you have any questions after closing I encourage you to call me.  After closing I will forward checks to any lenders to pay off your mortgages.  You should also contact your insurance agent to cancel your homeowner's policy - you will receive a refund for any remaining premium. I consider my clients to be "clients for life" and I look forward to assisting my clients for all their future legal needs.

Gary B. Kline, Esq.
Coughlin & Gerhart, LLP
99 Corporate Drive
Binghamton, New York

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