Monday, August 18, 2008

Real Estate Fables, C'est Moi

A few words (and a disclaimer) about how this blog will be structured. In New York State only a real estate lawyer is legally able to give advice and counsel in the field of real estate. Thus, the nuggets of wisdom gleaned from my own experience and mistakes (and triumphs) will be doled out here in the form of anecdotes/fables, followed by a moral. If you are thinking Aesop, you get it. NOTHING I say here should be the basis for any specific decisions you make without first consulting your real estate lawyer to see what best fits your particular case. Interestingly enough, in California (where I first received my license and worked for more than 15 years) title companies handle real estate escrows, and lawyers are rarely consulted during standard residential real estate transactions. I came to see the long-suffering title officers as angels-in-disguise (a shout-out to Eileen Gallagher). They work for a set fee rather than an hourly rate, and plough through tons of paperwork with nary a complaint. However, the downside of not using lawyers is that the real estate agent winds up acting as a sort of lawyer for the transaction (by default), executing the multi-page contract and negotiating all the terms and contingencies. This is very time-consuming and fraught with all the legal pitfalls you might expect. It is, in short, nerve-wracking. Being more in control entails feeling much more responsible if the deal begins to hit a brick wall. (Which happens VERY often.) So I was quite happy to learn, upon transferring my career to New York, that lawyers take over the transaction once the buyer and seller agree on a price. Let them earn their money, I say. The peace of mind I experience in exchange is priceless.

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