Real Estate Law

5 Things to Discuss With Your Real Estate Attorney When Buying a Condo in Manhattan

 buying a condo






Buying a condo in Manhattan is complicated. With numerous details to consider, it's wise to consult with a real estate attorney to ensure that your interests are protected. Here are five things to discuss with your real estate attorney before you sign the closing papers.

1. How Do the Condo Bylaws Affect My Rights?

Most condominiums in Manhattan are subject to bylaws. These are rules that govern everything from parking restrictions to pet ownership. Contained within the legalese may be conditions regarding your rights and obligations if you decide to renovate and whether or not you may lease your condo to another party. Ask your real estate attorney to review these bylaws so that you don't receive an unpleasant shock.

2. What Do the Condominium Fees Cover?

Almost all condo communities charge monthly or annual fees. However, what's covered by these fees may differ. It's vital to understand whether or not utilities are included in these fees in addition to insurance premiums and real estate taxes.

3. What Are My Rights Under the Board of Managers?

Many condominium communities have a condo board and Board of Managers that sets rules and sees that they are followed. It's vital to understand whether or not they have the right to ask for a waiver of certain rules and to be aware of the extent of their rights. It also may be valuable to know how officers are elected and how often elections are held if the owner wants to be involved.

4. What Is Management Responsible For?

Whether the management company is on-site or off-site, it is advisable to ask your real estate attorney to review the items for which the management is responsible. For instance, are there certain repairs or projects that are the sole domain of the management, and are there certain items that are the responsibility of the owner? Knowing this ensures familiarity with all rights and obligations.

5. Are the Closing Documents Acceptable?

Most closing documents for condo sales are fairly standard. Nonetheless, it is sensible to ask a Manhattan real estate attorney to review them before signing on the dotted line. Your attorney will alert you to any clauses in the contract that are non-standard, and they also may suggest certain revisions to ensure the fairness and completeness of the agreements.

Contact the Sabra Law Group at (646) 472-7971 if you want to know more about buying a condo in Manhattan.

How to Stage Your Condo in Manhattan for a Quicker Sale

Staging Your Condo in ManhattanThe Manhattan real estate market moves at lightning speed. This makes it imperative that sellers do everything they can to maximize the chances of their property getting noticed and seen by the largest possible number of potential buyers.

One of the ways to do this is to stage your condo or coop. "Staging" refers to making your apartment look its absolute best before it goes on the market. Accordingly, when pictures of your apartment go online, potential buyers will be lining up around the block to get a better look.

When you stage your apartment, the first step likely is to eliminate clutter. This can be a difficult, time-consuming step, but it is worthwhile. Not only will your coop or condo look better in photographs and during tours but also you won't have to move a lot of unnecessary items to your new home.

With the clutter gone, it's time to do a deep cleaning. Make certain that surfaces in kitchens and bathrooms and the floors in every room are particularly clean and attractive.

Before your home is shown, make certain to let in the light. Pull back curtains and raise the blinds before potential buyers arrive. Also, pay attention to your artificial lighting. Clean or replace dingy shades and dated fixtures so that people see your apartment in the best possible light.

It also may be advisable to remove at least some of your furniture from the coop or condo. A good rule of thumb is to eliminate about half of your existing pieces. You can rent off-site storage for this purpose. While this sounds like an extreme step to some sellers, it can make a huge difference. Buyers will see your apartment as much larger, giving them plenty of space for their own stuff.

While legal advice is not necessarily required when selling real estate in Manhattan, it is advisable to seek some guidance from a lawyer. An experienced real estate attorney can help you to sign a fair and balanced agreement with the Realtor who will assist you with the selling process and go over all paperwork that is associated with the real estate transaction. With their assistance, you can have the peace of mind of knowing that your best interests are protected.

If you would like more advice concerning how to stage your condo or coop regarding any legal assistance with home buying or selling, contact the Sabra Law Group at (646) 472-7971.


Pitfalls of Refinancing That You Need to Be Aware Of

refinancing your home, condo, coopIf you're a homeowner, then you may have noticed that you are being bombarded with offers to refinance your mortgage. It's no secret that mortgage rates are low right now. This means that refinancing may offer you an opportunity to save considerable money, especially over the long term.

However, there are several pitfalls of refinancing, and most of these are not obvious to the average consumer. This means that it may be wise to have an experienced real estate attorney advising you throughout the process.

Legal representation is not a requirement when you are refinancing, however, it does make good sense. This is because you are the only one who is looking out for your best interests in a refinancing transaction. The lender with whom you interact may be friendly and helpful. They are ready to answer your questions, and they may even try to find ways to score you an even more favorable deal.

When all is said and done, that friendly representative isn't really looking out for your best interests. They are trying to make a sale that will benefit their mortgage company and perhaps their own wallet. Additionally, that representative is a professional who has considerable experience in the industry. This makes them an expert, while most borrowers have only participated in one or two mortgage transactions.

This relative inexperience puts the consumer at a disadvantage, which means that they may be vulnerable to one or more of the pitfalls of refinancing. These may include agreeing to a pre-payment penalty, in which the borrower is subject to a sizable surcharge if they refinance or sell prior to a certain date.

Some less-than-reputable lenders will entice borrowers with interest rates that look great, but that get switched before the paperwork is signed. Additionally, excessive fees may make the refinance less sensible than it appears at first.

Some lenders also fudge the numbers on closing costs. Initial estimates are one thing, and they may be quite attractive. However, these costs can be calculated in numerous ways. The precise loan terms also may affect the amount of the closing costs. Legally, disclosure of the closing costs must be made within three days of the loan closing. An attorney can ensure that the lender is in compliance with this requirement.

If you would like to learn more about avoiding the pitfalls of refinancing, contact the Sabra Law Group at (646) 472-7971.


How to Determine What Neighborhood to Buy Property In Manhattan

Manhattan is massive, and the real estate possibilities here are countless. This can make it difficult to decide what neighborhood to buy property in. The most heavily weighted deciding factor often is cost, but there are many other considerations.

For instance, if you have kids or are planning to have them, then you'll want to investigate the quality of the schools. Perhaps you want to be close to a park or want to have certain stores or services nearby. You similarly may be concerned about your commute. Does it matter to you which subway lines and bus routes are closest to your new home?

In many ways, Manhattan is the beating heart of New York City. When people think of New York, it's frequently Manhattan that comes to mind. This borough is the home of many neighborhoods including the Financial District, Midtown, Lower East Side, Upper West Side, Sutton Place and many more. Measuring 22 square miles, more than two million people live in this borough. This means that it is densely populated, and it may be difficult to find the perfect location and property for you.

Each neighborhood within Manhattan has its own distinct personality. Choosing which one is right for you may come down to deciding whether your primary concern is space, location or cost. If you're on a tighter budget, then you'll need to look for a home that's a bit off the beaten path, which can be difficult in Manhattan.

Of course, other people will be more concerned with location. Is their new home close to work? Are my favorite restaurants or bars in the neighborhood? Is there a gym or yoga studio that make the neighborhood particularly attractive?

Space alternatively may be your driving concern. If you've got a growing family, then a studio apartment just won't do. How much square footage and how many bedrooms does your family require?

Carefully consider your transportation options when you decide what neighborhood to buy property in. Some neighborhoods, like the Financial District, are major subway hubs, providing a world of options. Others are more restricted. Keep this in mind before making a decision.

Working with an experienced real estate agent can help you to narrow down your options and hone in on exactly where you are mostly like to find a property that meets all of your needs.  An experienced real estate agent is familiar with the various neighborhoods and the available properties that are on the market and that may be coming on the market, that you may not have access to.  The agent or realtor may also be able to introduce you to neighborhoods and up and coming areas that you may not have on your “radar”.

In addition, numerous legal and financial considerations may play into your decision when it comes to what neighborhood to buy property in. Sabra Law Group's experienced real estate attorneys will help you make a wise decision. Contact them at (646) 472-7971 to learn more about how they can help to guide your search for real estate and advise you through the closing process.


Why It is Important to Have Your Own Attorney When Refinancing Your Home

refinancing your home, condo, coopRefinancing your home is a major financial decision that requires consideration. The right deal can mean lowering your interest rate, lowering your payment or even reducing the loan's term. Some refinance packages even allow you to borrow against your home's equity.

Time and paperwork are required when refinancing your condo. It can be a stressful time, and the borrower may encounter many terms and provisions with which they are unfamiliar. Although an attorney isn't required to help you complete this process, there are situations in which it may make sense to seek legal advice.

For instance, when you are refinancing your home, you may encounter a situation in which the loan documents with which you are presented at the end of the process do not match what was promised to you. Perhaps it is the result of a simple mathematical or typographical error that can be quickly corrected. However, if you find that your understanding and that of the lender are widely different, then you may need to consult a real estate lawyer of your own choosing.

A common misconception is that while there will likely be an attorney at the closing and signing of the loan documents, the attorney, if not specifically hired by you, is actually the attorney for the lender who is simply present to ensure that the documents are signed by you.  The attorney for the lender is not your attorney and has no obligation to explain any of the documents to you.

It also may be necessary to ask your own attorney to ensure that the original mortgage that is being paid off is properly discharged. If it is not, then you may have difficulty in the future when trying to obtain a clear title. You don't want refinancing your condo to affect your ability to sell it in the future.

Occasionally, it makes sense to call in a real estate attorney at the beginning of the process when you're hoping to discover the reputation of a potential new lender. The unfortunate reality is that there are numerous scammers out there that are happy to steal your personal data or sell you a mortgage that is not precisely above board. If you have any questions or concerns about a mortgage company or feel that you may have been the victim of a scam, do not hesitate to contact an experienced lawyer.

If you are thinking about refinancing your home, don't be in too much of a rush. This is a complicated financial transaction that requires time and consideration. The choice you make may affect your future for decades, so it's worth a delay of a few weeks to ensure that you're really getting a good deal.

Contact the real estate attorney Sabra Sasson at the Sabra Law Group at 646-472-7971 to learn more about how they can help with refinancing your home, condo, or coop.


How to Prepare for Listing Your Property in Manhattan

How to Prepare for Listing Your Property in ManhattanSelling real estate is always a daunting prospect. However, the difficulties multiply in major metropolitan areas like Manhattan. The market moves so quickly. How can you be sure you're ready to make the leap?

When it comes to listing your property in Manhattan, you need all the help you can get.

Whether you're moving out of the city, need a bigger place to accommodate a growing family or are downsizing after the kids have left home, you have a big job ahead of you. For most people, that job begins with decluttering, cleaning and repairing.

Getting rid of clutter means that your home will look better to prospective buyers while also ensuring that you won't have to move stuff you don't want. A deep cleaning helps your home to look its best, and making minor repairs is an excellent way to reassure buyers that they aren't taking on several DIY projects.

In addition to sprucing up the place before listing your property in Manhattan, you'll want to find a reputable Realtor who's going to work hard to get your home sold. They help you set a price that's going to appeal to buyers. Getting this right is a real art. Set it too high, and no one will take an interest. Set it too low, and you're in danger of losing money on your investment. Additionally, your Realtor will know how to market your home, and they'll handle the negotiations with the buyer through the closing process.

The other player in this deal is a knowledgeable real estate attorney. Before signing a listing agreement with a Realtor, it makes sense to have this contract reviewed by an attorney. It's probably a standard agreement, but it never hurts to examine and understand all of the fine print. In particular, you will want to know if your realtor is getting an exclusive right to sell, exclusive agency or an open listing.   This keeps you from being shocked at any time during the selling process. 

Most listing agreements cover the Realtor's commission, the type of listing, the listing's duration and the list price in addition to the duties and obligations of both the agent and the seller. Your attorney also may advise you concerning any property disclosures that may be required. Typically, these involve disclosing information regarding pest infestations, material defects in the home's systems and any portions of the property that are commonly owned. 

Contact the Sabra Law Group at 646-472-7971 to speak to a real estate lawyer and learn more about listing your property in Manhattan.


Tips on How to Sell Your Condo or Co-op Quickly During a Divorce in Manhattan

Divorce in ManhattanAs you might imagine, divorce can be complicated.  It can be challenging to agree upon a visitation schedule regarding your children and dividing up all of your assets.  Often, one of the most instrumental aspects of getting a divorce in Manhattan is handling the sale of the marital home.  In certain situations, divorcing couples may decide to have one person stay in the condo or co-op apartment instead of selling it.  On the other hand, there are instances where both parties cannot come to an amicable decision regarding who stays or whether one of you can buy out the other’s interest.  When both parties cannot come to an agreement, the only solution may be to sell the condo or co-op.

The first step to selling your property is to sit down and discuss the financial aspects of the divorce including the cost of maintaining the apartment until it is sold.  If there is a mortgage, it may be best to sell your condo or co-op quickly and agree to equally divide the proceeds.

But what if pre-marital funds were used toward the acquisition of the home or one of your parents contributed to the down-payment?  What do you do then?

These are questions that may be challenging for you to determine on your own.

Determine the Value of Your Manhattan Condo or Coop

Another aspect of selling your apartment is determining the value and the dollar amount to list it at.  Never make assumptions about the value of your condo or co-op. We frequently see people making the mistake of relying upon popular real estate websites online as the proof of valuation of their apartment and the information on these sites are often inaccurate.  In addition, people believe that the repairs and improvements they made to the property automatically means that it is worth a lot more than what they purchased it for.  This is another misconception.  You can get a more reliable estimate of the value of your apartment by consulting a local real estate agent or real estate appraiser who can advise you based on real data.  There are many different factors that impact property value: location, square feet, building amenities, reserved parking, and types of upgrades. 

In addition, a local realtor would likely make recommendations as to whether additional small improvements could yield a greater return when listing your co-op or condo for sale.  So be prepared to invest in repainting or staging your apartment before listing it for sale. 

Get the Legal Support You Need During Your Divorce in Manhattan

If you need assistance with divorce or your real estate transaction during your divorce, contact Sabra Law Group today at (646) 472-7971.


How to Handle Finances When You Are Going Through a Divorce

With divorce, comes many responsibilities.  In addition to handling child support and custody matters, you must also be prepared to deal with finances.  Financial responsibilities during divorce include handling property, cars, stock, 401K, and more. Furthermore, you also need to consider any vacation properties or investments purchased together during the marriage.

If you make smart financial decisions during your divorce, you will be setting yourself up for a stable future.

Consider the tips below on finances when you are going through a divorce:

  1. Have a clear understanding of what Is taxable.  For instance, you should be aware that spousal support is taxable (for any divorces that happen prior to December 31, 2018).  For the person that pays the spousal support, they can classify spousal support as a tax deductible. On the other hand, child support is not taxable to the recipient. 
  2. Do not forget about the change in exemptions.  For married couples, the exemption for capital gains is higher than it is for single people.  When it comes to deciding if you will live in the house for many years or not, it is important to consider the implications.  You must realize that capital gain taxes will be much higher if you keep the house short-term.  
  3. Understand the tax implications for retirement accounts.  It is best to consult with your accountant or financial advisor and determine the best course of action.  Your accountant can help you determine if you should keep your retirement accounts or cash them out.  By making more educated decisions regarding your finances, you will have a better financial outcome. 
  4. Realize that there are no guarantees with stocks.  Because there is really no way to determine, with accuracy, how a particular stock will perform, it may be best to split them in half and equally divide the stock with your spouse.  
  5. Factor in any outstanding debts: make a list of outstanding debts and determine who will be responsible for paying what. 

Do You Have Questions About How to Handle Finances During a Divorce?

This article addresses a small portion of the financial decisions that need to be made in divorce.  Schedule a confidential consultation with an attorney today to learn more about your specific situation and receive a comprehensive list of financial items to be discussed and resolved in your divorce. Sabra is an attorney with almost two decades of experience in both real estate law and divorce mediation.  Contact the office today at (646) 472-7971 and schedule your appointment.

How to Prepare for Buying Your First Condo in Manhattan

Buying a condo for the first time, especially in a competitive market like Manhattan, takes an extraordinary amount of planning and dedication. Many people fail to plan, which means that their hunt takes longer and is likely much more expensive than it has to be. When you prepare for buying your first condo in Manhattan, you'll be much closer to making your dream of home ownership a reality.

Start with Neighborhoods

Maybe you already have some ideas about which neighborhood suits you. Whether you're thinking Upper Manhattan or Bed-Stuy, spend some time in all of the communities that are of most interest to you. Get to know the buildings and the layout. Start dipping your toe into the local real estate market by browsing Zillow and similar sites. This gives you an opportunity to narrow your focus to a likely handful of neighborhoods.

Get Pre-Approved for Financing

When you're buying your first condo in Manhattan, mortgage pre-approval makes all the difference. That's especially true because there is a surprising number of cash buyers out there. Also, if you find yourself in a bidding war and the other bidder is pre-approved, then that war might be over before it starts. Things happen fast in the Manhattan real estate market. You have to be ready to strike with pre-approved financing.

Find a Real Estate Broker

In a seller's market, many brokers hardly seem interested in working for buyers. Accordingly, it is vital for you to find a reputable real estate broker who knows the business and is willing to be your tireless advocate. An experienced broker will sniff out promising condos and work fast to ensure that your bids receive the attention they deserve.

Be Prepared for the Long Haul

Ideally, it would be wonderful to find that perfect condo on your first open house expedition. The reality is that that rarely happens. Condo buyers in Manhattan could easily spend months or even a year trying to find the condo that's right for them. Usually, this involves bidding on more than one property. Make peace with the idea that frustration is likely to be your companion many times.

A competent Manhattan real estate lawyer can help you with real estate closings, reviewing contracts and other related matters. Contact Sabra Law Group today at 646-472-7971 to learn more.

For more information, listen to a real estate expert on our podcast, Coffee Break With Sabra: 




3 Tips for Quickly Selling Your Condo in Manhattan

Before you put your condo on the market to sell it, it is essential to know the unique selling points and challenges. The right price, marketing strategy and timing will all play a part in a successful sale. 

The best time of the year to sell your condo is usually the spring. The holiday time can be especially challenging in Manhattan due to the brutal winter weather. The holiday time is also a very stressful and busy time for many people; the last thing on their mind is to move on top of all of the other holiday demands.

Appropriately Price Your Condo

Setting the right price will determine the amount of traffic you will get to the condo.  If you price it too high, you may miss out on the optimal opportunity to get the right buyers in.  If you price it too low, then you could lose a lot of money.   Check other comps for your building as well as comparable condos in the neighborhood.   Also, keep in mind that just because you put $100K of remodeling into the unit; does not mean that you can price your unit at an extra $100K.  Your taste in flooring or expensive countertops may not match that of your “potential buyer” who may prefer a more traditional look.  

How to Stage Your Condo

It is important to make your condo stand apart as there may be multiple listings in your building at the same time for the same floor plan.  The first step is to thoroughly clean your condo or hire a cleaning company to do so.  The next step is to declutter and get rid of excess things and any items that may make the condo look cluttered.  Finally, you may want to hire a handyman or contractor to make any repairs that are necessary.  

If you don’t have the time to stage your condo, you can also hire a professional staging company who can handle the entire process for you (some real estate brokerage firms offer this service as well). 

Marketing Your Condo

Marketing is a critical part of getting your condo to sell.  Evaluate what sets your building apart from other buildings in the area and showcase that.  What amenities does your condo have that others would find desirable?  What is unique about your neighborhood? Make a list and gather professional photos of the building, amenities area, and inside of the unit.  It is best to hire a professional photographer; remember the images or video footage is what is going to captivate a potential buyer to come in and view the unit.  

Selling Your Condo in Manhattan? 

For more information, listen to our interview with a real estate expert on our podcast Coffeebreak With Sabra: 


If you need assistance with real estate closings or handling real estate legal matters, contact Sabra Law Group today at (646) 472-7971.