Please keep in mind that the following information is not to be intended to be an absolute and/or complete representation of the home selling process in New York State. However, it's intention is to give you a general overview of the process, and to allow you to understand it in it's most basic form. Information contained herein is not intended to be complete and/or to replace expert advise from qualified advisors such as a real estate attorney, a real estate agent, an engineer or home inspector, a mortgage counselor, an accountant, and an insurance agent, all of whom you may need to consult with and rely upon in connection with your planned property sale.
Property Condition Disclosure Statement
As of March 1, 2002, New York State implemented the so-called "Property Condition Disclosure Act". This law stipulates that a seller provides a completed "Property Condition Disclosure Statement" to the buyer before the buyer is bound by a "Contract of Sale", and that this statement must be attached to the contract. The seller can choose not to provide this statement but it will result in an automatic $500 credit to the buyer at closing. This specific law applies to residential property containing one to four units, but not to unimproved real property, new construction, condos, cooperative apartments, or property in a homeowner’s association that is not owned in fee simple. Other exclusions may apply in various situations such as foreclosures, transfers between co-owners, estates, and more. Please always consult a real estate attorney for legal counsel regarding these conditions.
Lead-Based Paint Hazards Disclosure
All purchasers or lessees of residential housing built before 1978 must be given the pamphlet “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home”. In addition, they must be provided with a disclosure form from the seller or lessor stating if there is any knowledge of lead-based paints or coatings in the home. Should a buyer or lessee want an inspections for lead-based paint hazards in the home, you are required by law to give the buyer a 10-day period in which to conduct an inspection, unless otherwise agreed to or waived.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors
New York State law requires that all one- and two-family homes, condominiums, cooperative apartments, and multiple-unit dwellings have at least one operable "Carbon Monoxide Alarm" at the time of sale. This law went into effect in March 2003 which was then amended in 2009 and is also known as “Amanda’s Law”. Please make sure that there is at least one working detector installed before the initial home inspection, and/or at the "Final Walk-Through" prior to closing.
Well-Water Testing Law
The Private Well-Water Testing Law went into effect in Westchester County in November 2007. It applies to any and all properties served by private wells used for drinking water. It requires that private drinking water wells are tested for contaminants upon the sale of any such property. For leased properties, the well-water testing must be done within 12 months of the property becoming subject to a leasehold, and at least once every five (5) years after that. Every time a rental property subject to the law is leased, a written copy of the most recent test results must be given to the lessee. All new private wells, prior to first use, as well as all other private wells not in use as a potable water for a period of five (5) years must also be tested. The seller or landlord is responsible for these tests being done and pays for it as well. Testing must be conducted by an employee or authorized representative of a lab certified by the NYS Department of Health. The results of the water test must be supplied to the seller and buyer, or in the case of a leased property, to the lessee and lessor. This law contains provisions on the rights and responsibilities of the parties involved whenever testing reveals that the well water system does not meet the prescribed drinking water quality standards for one or more of the contaminants tested, and specifies who does and how to remediate or correct problems. This law does not apply to properties served by a regulated Public Water Supply where the water supply system supplies five (5) or more properties or serves an average of twenty-five (25) or more persons daily for at least sixty (60) days out of the year. Properties in Westchester County may be served by private wells, community wells, or public water supply companies, so you should inquire as to the source of the drinking water for your property to determine whether or not this law will actually apply. More information on this law may be found at the Westchester County Department of Health Web site.
Offer to Purchase
A written "Offer to Purchase" is mostly used by the buyer's agent to submit the initial offer on a property you want to acquire. This document is not a standard form, but it should always contain the terms of the offer, including the address and description of the subject property, offering price, conditions (financing, inspections, repairs etc.), inclusions of the sale (appliances, shades, blinds etc.), proposed closing date, and any other negotiable items. It should be prepared by the buyer's agent, and it should be reviewed by the buyer for accuracy before it is send to the seller's agent. The agents involved may at times request that the buyer sign the offer.
Again, the "Purchase Memorandum" is not a specific standard form, but this type of document is commonly used to confirm the terms that have been agreed to by the parties involved to reach an "Accepted Offer". While it is usually prepared by the seller’s agent or broker, it is also at times written by the buyer’s agent or broker. Copies of the "Purchase Memorandum" are typically sent to all parties including the buyers and sellers, to their attorneys, and both real estate agents.
Contract of Sale
The legal "Contract of Sale" is prepared by the seller’s attorney after an agreement has been reached, and after all agreed on inspections have been completed. The contract will be sent by the seller’s attorney to the buyer’s attorney for review and subsequent signing by the buyer, then returned to the seller’s attorney for signature by the seller. This contract is usually accompanied by the "Down Payment" or "Earnest Money Deposit" which is typically 10% of the purchase price. While most attorneys use a standard contract, the exact language of a contract may vary considerably due to amendments regarding the specific terms that were negotiated. Therefore it should be reviewed thoroughly for accuracy before signing.
A "Homeowner’s Insurance Policy", which has to be pre-paid for one year, needs to be in place at the time of closing. The insurance industry now relies heavily on "C.L.U.E. (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) Property Loss History Reports", which is a comprehensive database of insurance claims on all private properties. The subject property’s claim history for the past seven years, including events that did not result in any claims, are contained in this report. In addition to the "Property Claim History", insurance companies will also take into account the claim history of the buyer. A property or purchaser with an extensive claim history may find it expensive or difficult to obtain homeowner’s insurance. Only the current property owner is allowed to order a "C.L.U.E." report. However, a buyer can to ask the seller to obtain the report and share it, or can ask the seller to supply written details of their past claims on the property. It is important to check the cost and availability of homeowner’s insurance right away and not to wait with it just before closing day since their may be problems.
Essential Home Selling Questions & Answers
Please Note: For additional information or clarification of any information provided herein,
please consult your real estate agent and/or real estate attorney.