At the Law Office of Jeanne Reardon, the health and safety of our staff and clients is our top priority. Since you
rely on us for your legal needs, we remain
ready to help you in this difficult time as we face many health and financial challenges. Accordingly, we are taking a number of steps to minimize health risks during this health crises while serving our current clients as well as new clients coming on board.
law firm will be adhering to the guidelines presented by the Centers
for Disease Control and our local health officials, and we continue to
monitor them for updates as they are released. We have implemented a plan to protect the safety of our work
environment while allowing us to continue to service all of our clients.
We are taking precautions with respect to
non-essential meetings and face-to-face interactions. That includes
telephone consultations and conference calls whenever possible. With respect to our real estate practice,
we will endeavor to utilize Powers of Attorney, pre-signed deeds, and Escrow Closings, where available,
in order to close title when the transaction permits us to do so.
Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or
concerns regarding your current real estate transaction or if you are just getting started and are looking to hire a real estate attorney for an upcoming sale or purchase of a home. As always, we are committed to
handling our clients' matters with the utmost care and respect, and are available to assist both current and new clients.
We hope that you and your family remain safe and healthy!
Jeanne Reardon, Esq.
The standard residential contract of sale used by attorneys
in the New York Metropolitan area will often state that the closing will take
place, for example, “on or about December 1, 2018.” In New York, unlike many other states, the
“Closing Date” contained in the contract, especially if the words “on or about”
precede it, is a fluid date. It is rare
that a closing actually occurs on the date specified in the contract. The
phrase “on or about” has been interpreted by the New York courts to mean that
either side has a reasonable period beyond the “on or about” date in which to
If all progresses on schedule, a closing can usually occur
within 60 days after the contract has been fully executed by the seller
and purchaser. However, not all real estate transactions proceed as planned. While many of the transactions do eventually
close (unless a buyer is unable to obtain financing or an appraisal comes in
too low), there are some that do end up in a dispute or litigation. If a party is unwilling to close within a “reasonable”
time after the closing date, many times, before litigation is commenced,
the attorney for the party wishing to close can send what is referred to as a
Time of the Essence Letter (“TOE Letter”) to the other party. That letter
will set forth a new closing date stating that “time is of the essence.” If the party receiving the
letter does not close by that date they can be declared in default under the
terms of the contract of sale.
It is important to note that the “time of the essence”
standard is not a statutory standard but rather one established by the courts
and case law, and is constantly changing depending on each case that is decided
by the courts. While the courts are
silent as to what constitutes a “reasonable” time, many real estate attorneys
practicing in the New York Metropolitan area have come to a consensus that “reasonable”
is generally about 30 days. However, the
case law has explained that the other
party must be given a reasonable time in which to act and what amounts to a reasonable time to perform
depends on the circumstances of the case.
Whether dealing with a TOE Letter or an “on or about”
closing date, the closing date and closing time frames can quickly change and
extend far beyond the “on or about” closing date depending on the
Most people obtain financing when purchasing a
house, condo, or co-op. In that case, the contract of sale will contain
a mortgage contingency clause making the sale contingent upon the buyer
obtaining a mortgage in a certain amount. If the buyer's loan
application is denied by the lending institution, the buyer can then
cancel the contract and get the down payment back.
order to benefit from the protections allowed by the mortgage
contingency clause the buyer must strictly abide by all its terms, i.e.
the buyer must only apply for a loan in the amount stated in the clause
(or such lesser sum as buyer shall be willing to accept), and obtain
the mortgage within the time frame given in the clause. If the buyer
applies for a loan greater than the amount stated in the
clause and is then denied a loan, the buyer will have forfeited the
protection afforded by the clause and will not be able to cancel the
contract. If the buyer is then unable to obtain other funds to complete
the purchase the buyer will be in default under the terms of the
more than likely lose their down payment. On the other hand, if the
buyer is approved for a loan greater than stated in
the mortgage clause, then no problem. Nonetheless, I would never
client to take such a risk and put their down payment in jeopardy.
There are many reasons why the loan may be denied that have nothing to
do with the financial qualifications of the buyer and are beyond the
buyer's control. An experienced real estate attorney will help you
navigate through this process.
mortgage contingency clause is there to protect your down payment
should your loan be denied. To best protect yourself when purchasing a
home with a mortgage, hire an experienced real estate attorney who fully
understands all aspects of the mortgage contingency clause and will
guide you through the entire closing process.
To speak with
an experienced real estate attorney, call us at (516)
314-8433. To learn more about our services and how we can assist you, visit us
Title insurance is crucial for a home buyer because it protects you and
the lender from the possibility that your seller doesn't -- or previous
sellers didn't -- have free and clear ownership of the house and
property and, therefore, can't rightfully transfer full ownership to
you. Problems with the title can limit your use and enjoyment of the
property, as well as cause you financial loss. This is why you need
Your real estate attorney will arrange the process of getting you
title insurance soon after your Contract of Sale is signed.
What Could Happen If You Don't Get Title Insurance?
Title insurance protects against the following common hidden risks just to name a few:
or omissions in deeds
in examining records
- Undisclosed or missing heirs
impersonation of the true owner of the property
- Instruments executed under invalid or expired
power of attorney
- Mistakes in recording legal documents
of wills Deeds by persons of unsound mind
by persons supposedly single, but in fact married
for unpaid estate, inheritance, income or gift taxes
Title Insurance: Lender's Policies and Buyer's Policies
Title insurance is typically a combination of two policies: a
lender's policy and a borrower's policy. Your lender -- assuming you're
taking out a mortgage, will require that you buy a lender's policy (also called a
"mortgagee's policy") to pay for its legal defense costs and reimburse
any mortgage payments you can't make because you've lost the house to
someone else's claim on it.
The lender may also require you to buy an "owner's policy," covering
your own legal fees and other losses, as yet another step toward
protecting the lender's collateral. Your title insurance policy
remains in effect as long as you, or your heirs, retain an interest in
property. Title insurance will give you the peace of mind in knowing
that the investment that you have made in your home is a safe one.
The Law Office of Jeanne M. Reardon assists New York property owners with title insurance matters. To speak with
an experienced New Yorkreal estate attorney, call us at (516)
314-8433 or e-mail us.
property ownership can be a great solution for people who want to own a home,
especially for first-time buyers. But joint ownership can limit your rights and
options -- not only while you own the property, but also when you want to
transfer ownership to an heir or another buyer. There are three major forms of
joint property ownership (or "concurrent ownership") -- tenancy in
common, joint tenancy, and tenancy by the entirety.
Tenancy in Common (TIC)
in common (sometimes called a "TIC") is the most popular form of
concurrent property ownership. Tenants in common (or co-tenants) each own an
equal share of a piece of property -- whether it's a house, an apartment
building, or other type of real estate. This generally means that each
co-tenant has an equal right to possess or use the entire property, and that
the rent or maintenance costs of the property are shared among the co-tenants
according to their ownership interest. Each co-tenant also possesses a share in
the value of the property as it appreciates.
Real estate owned by one or more
persons as tenants in common gives a percentage ownership to each person, and
upon that owner’s death, their percentage share goes to their estate. If they
have a will, it goes to the persons named in their will. If they die without a
will, then it goes to their legal heirs-at-law. With this type of ownership,
each owner has the right to transfer their share during their lifetime, without
obtaining the permission of the co-owner. If the deed is silent as to form of
ownership, then there is a presumption in the law that the parties own as
tenants in common. Any co-tenant has
the right to live in the premises without paying rent to the other owners, and
every co-tenant may be entitled to credits for items such as taxes, maintenance
and repairs. If the premises are rented to a non-owner, all co-tenants would be
entitled to share in the rent.
co-tenant can transfer interest in a tenancy in common to another buyer or to
an heir -- via a will, for example. A co-tenant can also mortgage a share in
the property. What a co-tenant cannot do is transfer or sell the other
co-tenants' interests in the property. Once a co-tenant's interest in a tenancy
in common is transferred, the new owner steps into the shoes of the co-tenant
seller and becomes a tenant in common with the other co-tenants.
tenancy is sometimes called "joint tenancy with right of
survivorship." Joint tenancy ownership implied that a joint tenant lost
all interest in their property when they died. The deceased person's interest
was automatically transferred to the other joint tenant. Thus, in a joint tenancy, the last surviving
joint tenant owned all the property outright.
you want to create a joint tenancy or take possession of property as joint
tenants, make sure that your lawyer or real estate agent is very careful about
the phrasing in the deed or will. In general, courts prefer very specific
wording that shows the desire to create a joint tenancy and the right of
survivorship and not a tenancy in common. For example, a deed or will
might include instructions that read "to A and B, as joint tenants with a
right of survivorship, and not as tenants in common."
under state law, a joint tenancy will automatically convert to a tenancy in
common. For example, if joint tenants die simultaneously, their property is
treated as a tenancy in common by the courts, for purposes of inheritance and
estate distribution. And if two or more people inherit property from a last
surviving joint tenant, they do so as tenants in common instead of as joint
by the Entirety
The third form of ownership -- tenancy
by the entirety -- is only available to a married couple who owns a piece of
property together. The couple must be married at the time they
acquire the property and must remain married in order for the tenancy by the
entirety to be valid. If a married
couple divorce after taking title to the property as tenants in entirety, they
then become tenants in common.
The deed should recite the names as
follows: “John Doe and Jane Doe, husband and wife” or John Doe and Jane Doe,
his wife.” If silent, it is presumed that a married couple has taken as tenants
by the entirety. Not
all states recognize tenancies in entirety -- but those that do often presume
that a grant of property to a husband and wife automatically creates a tenancy
by the entirety, unless some other type of ownership is specified. If a
different form of ownership is desired between a husband and wife, then it must
be specified as either tenants in common or joint tenancy with right of
Under a tenancy by the entirety in New York State, upon
the death of one spouse, the other spouse owns the property free and clear of
any encumbrances that may have been caused by the other spouse. Thus, if one
spouse sells or mortgages the survivorship interest to a third party, the third
party will get only a contingent interest.
For example, where the husband conveys or grants a mortgage to a third
party, the third party will get nothing if the husband predeceases the
wife. It the wife dies before the
husband, the third party will own the property outright, or will have an
enforceable mortgage on the husband’s full fee interest. Neither spouse can disinherit the other
spouse by leaving the property to someone else in their will.
The Law Office of Jeanne M. Reardon assists New York property owners with
strategies to protect and pass on their homes and real estate investments. To speak with
an experienced New York deed attorney, call us at (516)
314-8433 or e-mail us. To learn more about our deed transfer services visit us