What you need to know about...
REAL ESTATE TRANSACTIONS
What is a real estate closing?
When we lawyers talk about handling “closings” for clients, we are not just talking about who is buying or selling the property, we are also talking about the final consummation of the deal, where the money is exchanged, and the ownership finally passes from seller to purchaser.
When is the closing date?
Even though a closing date is stated in the contract, the universal custom in New York real estate transactions is that this an “on or about” closing date. This is never intended as a firm date, and you should not write it in your calendar or expect that the deal will actually close on that day. It is a target date, and New York law allows for the deal to close within 30 days after the on-or-about date, with no legal implications.
The deal can close earlier if the parties are ready, and it can close later if they agree to do so. But the date will be set firmly only after the final approvals are received from the condo / coop and lender, and after that it usually takes at least a week or two to pull it together.
This is easy, routine stuff, right?
No. It takes time to arrange the closing because a lot of things have to fall into place, which takes a lot of work and communication among the parties and their counsel.
There may be ten or twenty expenses that have to be paid other than the purchase price going from purchaser to seller – things like city and state taxes, condo / coop fees, fees to the bank and their counsel, charges for title insurance, and the payoff of the seller’s mortgage.
In addition, there may be ten or twenty different documents that may be needed – or, when the purchaser is taking a loan, more like thirty or forty – all of which have to be correctly prepared and approved among the parties’ counsel. It’s very much like a theater production – a lot has to happen behind the scenes in order for the show to go on.
When can we see all the final documents and numbers?
Some of that information and some of those documents are known and prepared from the start of the deal; some are standard and require little or no discussion. But much of it comes together only in the last day or two. The operations of a bank, title company and condo/coop manager are focused on the closing and not on the earlier stages of the transaction, so their numbers and documents are always gathered at nearly the last minute.
Some materials, such as loan documents, are seen for the first time only at the closing itself. The numbers come in from different sources at different times, and they are often revised, even up to and at the closing. So, we prepare your closing statement iteratively, with updates, corrections, and revisions, as the details come together.
Are funds delivered by personal check? bank check? wire? crypto?
Because things generally don't come together until the last day or two, it's only then that we can confidently advise you what funds to deliver or expect at the closing. Funds are often delivered by check – bank checks are always required for large amounts, like the big payments to the seller or the mortgage payoff. The purchaser usually requests the bank checks the day before the closing and picks them up the morning of the closing. Personal checks can be used for smaller amounts, so it’s always wise to bring your checkbook to the closing.
Funds may also be sent by wire transfer, e.g., when the recipient needs the funds immediately to close another deal, or when they need to deposit funds to a bank that has no local bran
Also, it often makes sense for funds to be delivered into escrow accounts with one of the attorneys or the title company. This allows funds to be gathered from different sources and then relayed to the recipient, and can guarantee that funds will be on hand to make all the payments, while the details of the numbers are still being determined. It’s extremely common for escrow accounts to be used in this way, and lawyers and title companies are universally trusted to hold such funds, to account for them in complete detail, and to promptly refund balances to the parties (and are subject to very harsh penalties if they fail to do so)
Cryptocurrencies are not generally used in real estate transactions. This firm does not accept or work with cryptocurrency.
What version of my name should I use?
Your name may be Christina but for your whole life everyone has called you Tina; your name may be Dwayne Johnson and everyone calls you The Rock. That’s great, but it’s very important that all your transaction documents identify you by your actual legal name. This is the only way to ensure that all the documents will be consistent and legally valid. This is an issue for anyone who uses any kind of nickname, a middle name, a married or maiden name, or an Americanized version of a foreign name. You should proactively provide this information – and a copy of your official ID – to your attorneys, loan officers, and any other party who is processing your information or preparing your documents, and do so at the start of the deal, not at the last minute.