For Buyers

  • Negotiate contract terms
  • Review private inspection reports
  • Negotiate repair issues
  • Order and review survey
  • Order and review title report
  • Help buyer satisfy lender's pre-closing requirements
  • Obtain payoff letters re seller's mortgages
  • Negotiate and prepare Use and Occupancy Agreement, if necessary
  • Prepare Power of Attorney, if necessary
  • Negotiate final walk-through repair issues
  • Prepare Settlement Statement and buyer's Affidavit of Title
  • Preside at mortgage closing and title closing
  • Act as buyer's surrogate at closing, if necessary
  • Run closing proceeds through law firm trust account
  • Write trust account checks to seller, seller's attorney, seller's mortgagees, title company, surveyor, lender, realtors, municipal tax collector, homeowner's association, county clerk, et cetera
  • Prepare and send closing package to lender
  • Prepare and send closing package to title company
  • Record Deed and Mortgages
  • Replot municipal tax map
  • Record seller's canceled Mortgages
  • Satisfy all preconditions to issuance of title insurance
  • Owner's title policy to buyer and lender's title policy to lender

For Sellers

  • Negotiate contract terms
  • Review private inspection reports
  • Negotiate repair issues
  • Review title report
  • Obtain payoff letters re seller's mortgages
  • Negotiate and prepare Use and Occupancy Agreement, if necessary
  • Prepare Power of Attorney, if necessary
  • Negotiate final walk-through repair issues
  • Review Settlement Statement
  • Prepare Deed, seller's Affidavit of Title, and I.R.S. Form 1099
  • Attend title closing
  • Act as seller's surrogate at closing, if necessary

Why You Need An Attorney in Your Corner

If you are buying a house, either to live in or as an investment, you need someone in your corner who understands the law, who is permitted by law to give legal advice, and who can and will keep everything you say confidential.

State law forbids the "unauthorized practice of law." Your realtor, therefore, may not give legal advice. Similarly, a title company may not and will not give legal advice.

If your realtor is acting as "dual agent," then s/he is acting in the interests of both sides, and s/he is allowed to repeat anything you say to the other side.

You need an experienced real estate attorney in your corner. An experienced real estate attorney understands the law, is authorized by law to give legal advice, and is constrained by the ethics of his profession to keep what you say in the strictest confidence.

Here are two examples of why this is important:

  • What happens if your private inspection report uncovers a structural, environmental or pest problem? Do the issues cited in the private inspection report allow you to terminate the contract? They may or they may not. If they do not, and if you back out of the deal, you will be in breach of contract. You may end up forfeiting your security deposit. You may be liable for other damages as well. Neither your realtor nor your title company can advise you. An experienced real estate attorney can.
  • And what about new construction or relatively new homes? You might assume that newer homes are a safe bet. Think again. Read about the March 2005 report by the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation entitled The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Attorney David G. Christoffersen handles real estate transactions and disputes in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. He has successfully handled hundreds of real estate closings since 1992. He is also a home owner, a real estate investor, and a landlord.