New York’s real estate market is notorious for being fast-paced and high-stakes. With thousands – sometimes hundreds of thousands – of dollars on the line, a mistake can have dire consequences. Whether you are buying or selling a house, apartment, brownstone, or condo, it is important to understand the unique aspects of New York real estate law.

When a real estate deal becomes legally enforceable

In many states, when a seller accepts a home buyer’s offer, both sides have obligations to follow through on the deal. However, in New York, the parties are not legally bound to a residential real estate deal until they formally sign a contract. Many in the business refer to this as being “in contract” or “under contract.”

“Down payment” can mean a few different things

Most new homebuyers are aware they need a down payment for their mortgage, but they may not know that most residential real estate contracts in New York require a cash deposit or “earnest money.” Typically, this additional down payment is about 10% of the purchase price. Then, at closing, buyers pay another 10% along with the amount their bank agrees to pay as a mortgage.

Include contingencies to protect the down payment

If possible, it is beneficial to include provisions in the contract for sale that outline situations where the deal could be cancelled. You can negotiate with the other party to determine what will happen to the down payment in the event one side decides to walk away.

Finding your way through the New York residential real estate process is easier with an experienced attorney on your side. They can help with negotiating and drafting contracts, closing, and mortgages. With so much at stake, there’s no reason to go it alone.