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Should You Waive a Home Inspection in NY?

Buying a home is always challenging. When you’re looking for your forever home, you always need to come up with an appealing offer, otherwise you end up disappointed. One tactic that buyers are increasingly counting on to stand out is to waive the home inspection. Afterall, the pandemic atmosphere and an active real estate market, have made it harder to meet tight deadlines to ensure a timely one. But is this something that you really want to do? Is it worth it to forgo the inspection just to get the house? Read on for what questions to ask to help you decide if you want to waive your home inspection in New York.  

What do I need to know about the home inspection?

After the home seller accepts the buyer’s offer, the home inspection typically follows. It involves an unbiased and certified inspector coming onto the property and investigating and exploring the structural integrity of the home, in addition to other important features.

This includes inspection of the following:

  • The foundation 
  • The roof
  • The insulation
  • HVAC/heating
  • The electrical and plumbing 

What party holds the risk for waiving the home inspection?

The home purchaser carries all the risks when they decide to waive a home inspection. The seller is drawn to offers that don’t include the inspection because it makes it less likely that the buyer will discover problems and issues that will need to be resolved before they proceed. 

What are the risks in waiving the home inspection?

Even though you have a right to an inspection, you may feel tempted to bypass this step. However, the home inspection is a safeguard helpful to your financial stake in what is most likely the most significant purchase that you make. Yes, it costs money to have the home checked out, but this can be money well spent as opposed to paying for later costly repairs. When you don’t inspect the home, you risk jeopardizing the substantial undertaking of a home purchase.

There’s also the health, safety, and well-being of you and your family to consider. When you get a home inspection, you become aware of possible hazardous defects in the home, which may not be obvious upon first appearances. Here, you can discover things like faulty wiring or even structural damage.   

What about waiving inspections for condos or new constructions?

The thinking about condos or new builds is that inspections aren’t as important because they are part of larger buildings or are brand new and haven’t had time for anything to go wrong. However, getting an inspection is generally a good idea because you just don’t know the extent of what you’re dealing with until you have a professional take a deep dive. Typically, it’s best to be informed.

Before You Waive Home Inspections, Contact an Attorney

You’ll be excited to put in your offer and have it accepted. But you should temper your excitement with caution before waiving a home inspection. Get in touch with an attorney who can explore setting up a contract that will present an attractive offer without sacrificing your interests. Our MOWK Law attorneys are highly experienced in this area. Contact us right away for your next steps.

Should You Sell Your Home by Owner in New York?

When you’re selling your house in the current New York market, you want to make sure that it’s a lucrative transaction. However, this goal comes with many challenges and decisions to make. One such choice is whether you want to sell your home without the assistance of a realtor. While some sellers think that it’s less stressful and will save you money, there are things to consider if you decide to go down the “for sale by owner” (FSBO) path. Read on to learn more information to help you decide if this is the way that you want to sell your New York home.  

Like several states, New York requires sellers to hire a real estate attorney. While the lawyer will help you with documentation and the legal requirements of the transactions, their role doesn’t include assisting you with finding a buyer or helping you negotiate a favorable deal. This is why some sellers choose to work with a realtor. However, you may want to explore the option of not using one.

Pricing Strategy 

This is a one critical aspect that you must deal with if contemplating a FSBO sale. It involves a delicate balancing act: If your listing is too low, you end up losing money. But if you price it too high, then the listing gets cold, and then you must drop the price, which can make buyers suspicious and reluctant to purchase. 

What Are the Advantages of a FSBO Sale?

One of the most positive aspects of a FSBO sale is the sense of control that comes with it. You don’t have to pay commission to a realtor when you work by yourself. This, of course may end up saving you lots of money. Additionally, when you have eliminated the middleman, you’re in the driver’s seat when it comes to exploring all of your options and choosing the way that you want to advertise and market your house.  

What Are the Disadvantages of FSBO Sale?

The sales process can be overwhelming because you have to do everything for yourself. That includes conducting research on how much your home is worth. After determining this, you then have to get your home ready for the market. When you’re ready to put it up, you will have to determine how to advertise and market your home. You will also have to conduct open houses. Finally, when you do get a buyer, you will have to negotiate and have to research their finances to ensure that they can actually purchase your home. Not only is this a lot to do, but everything may not go smoothly. For instance, if there are problems such as with the title search, you don’t have the realtor to assist with this, and you must resolve it yourself. 

Connect With a NY Real Estate Lawyer

There are a lot of things to consider when you’re selling your home. Whether you decide to go with the FSBO route or not, you will need a reliable New York real estate lawyer to complete your home sale. You can connect with an experienced MOWK Law attorney to handle the legal aspects of the transaction. Don’t hesitate to contact us right away to get started.   

Should I Discuss Estate Planning During the Holidays?

With the winter holidays fast approaching, the thought of family festivities may be on your mind. In fact, it may be one of the only times that the entire family comes together. Some look at this as the ideal time to use the gatherings to deal with family business, including discussing estate planning. But you may question whether it’s the best or most appropriate time. Should you really discuss estate planning during the holidays?

Well, many legal experts agree that people should take advantage of the convenience of holiday get-togethers and talk about what they need to do about their estate. So, the answer to the question is a resounding “yes.” Read on to learn about how to discuss estate planning during the holidays.   

How to Start a Conversation About Estate Planning

Discussing after-life plans can be difficult at any time but can be especially daunting during the holidays because everyone is in a celebratory mood. However, there are guidelines and tips to follow to help get the ball rolling. Consider the following:

Thoroughly Prepare:

  • Don’t go into this without conducting your research and understanding your needs, wants, and your assets. 
  • Take inventory as to where you are in the estate planning process. Do you need to begin your estate plan? Do you have a plan already in place? Do you need to update your plan? 
  • Take stock of any life changes that could prompt changes in your estate plan. 

Set the Agenda:

  • Let the family know what you have in mind. Be clear, and don’t blindside them or make it a surprise; lay out the subject of the discussion. This way, everyone can prepare as needed. 
  • Arrange for all adults who need to be present to be able to meet. If they can’t be there in person, use means like FaceTime or Zoom. Plan for children to be busy with other activities at this time. 
  • Arrange to do something fun immediately after to lighten the mood.

Engage in the Meeting:

  • Open up the conversation by discussing pop culture events, such as celebrity deaths. “We don’t want to be like the famous athlete/ actor/singer/rapper/influencer who died without a will.”
  • Consider the desires of family members. Are their specific heirlooms that people want? How will this be balanced out? 
  • Communicate effectively and with sympathetically. Try to be sensitive, remain calm and let everyone have a chance to express themselves. Be prepared for emotional responses.  

Relevant Issues

  • Property: Typically, the most significant part of estate plans involves what happens to someone’s property when they pass away. Thus, it’s important to concentrate on this.  
  • Financials: What happens to your financial accounts also needs to be addressed. Individuals can designate accounts/benefits (pensions, IRAs, stocks/bonds) through beneficiary designations.  
  • Power of attorney: The two areas of concern are medical decisions and financial decisions. 
  • Long-term care: What happens if you suffer an illness or injury and need a long-term care facility? You can use estate planning to anticipate this and prepare financially. 

Ask for Help from an Estate Planning Attorney 

Estate planning matters aren’t particularly easy to deal with, but the holiday season provides a welcome time to engage in necessary conversations. You can plan ahead and speak with an experienced New York attorney to express your intentions. MOWK Law attorneys are well-reversed when it comes to estate planning and are available to hear you. Contact us to learn more.

Should I Get a Pour Over Will?

If you don’t have a will, the law determines what happens to your assets. This is referred to as “intestacy.” Here, your assets will pass to your heirs according to New York’s intestacy statutes. Sometimes this will be in sync with what you want, but sometimes it won’t. If your assets are subject to intestacy, the decision is taken out of your hands. To take control, many individuals choose to create a will. If you decide to execute a will, it may be just one part of the estate planning. You may also need a pour over will. 

What is a Pour Over Will?

A pour over will is one that is used in conjunction with a trust document. For instance, this will involve a living trust, which can at some point, develop into the main instrument for picking your fiduciaries and disposing of your assets.  

The Connection Between Living Trusts and Pour Over Wills 

Creating a living trust is a popular option for New Yorker residents to use to help avoid lengthy probate proceedings. The assets that are part of the trust are separate from personal assets and are passed directly to heirs, and therefore are shielded from probate. But any assets that aren’t transferred into the trust’s control may still have to go through court approval before they are disbursed to beneficiaries. Sometimes pour-over wills are used to capture these assets and can protect them if the assets weren’t transferred into the trust before you pass away.

What is the Difference Between a Pour Over Will and a Regular Will?

A regular will can allow the testator to do many things, including designating someone to make medical decisions in case of incapacitation or naming a guardian for children. One of the simplest things is that it states who gets an inheritance. However, pour over wills only involve one intended beneficiary- the living trust. 

There are intricacies that accompany using a living trust that can result in assets not always making it into the trust before the individual dies. When this happens, these assets that aren’t transferred into the trust are considered as personal property and will be subject to estate tax and the probate process.  

The purpose of the pour over will is to allow you to let the state know that you want any non-trust assets to be transferred into your living trust after you have passed away; you’re essentially directing your non-trust assets to “pour over” into the trust. 

Do I Need a Pour Over Will?

You might want a pour over will when you have both a living trust and a traditional will. While the will may be used to illuminate which heirs will get specific assets, if it doesn’t target assets to your trust, your heirs must wait for probate and pay fees and taxes before getting personal property.     

Interested in Pour Over Will Guidance? An Attorney can Help

Regardless of how carefully you watch your estate, there may be a risk that some assets won’t make it into your trust. A pour over instrument can remedy this by acting as a safeguard. Get help from one of our skilled estate planning MOWK Law attorneys who can help to ensure that your property is passed along as you have envisioned. Contact us for assistance with committing to your estate plans.

What You Need to Know About Estoppel Certificates in Commercial Leases

Estoppel certificates (also known as estoppel letters) are important documents used for due diligence in many real estate activities. Read on to learn how this impacts your New York commercial lease

What is an Estoppel Certificate?

An estoppel certificate is a statement, which acknowledges that a commercial lease agreement exists. The tenant’s signature on this will confirm the current status of their lease and confirm that certain details of the lease are valid, including the absence of defaults and the agreement to pay rent (on a specific date) to the landlord. 

It basically lays out the make-up of the landlord and tenant relationship and when the landlord needs to negotiate with a third party when selling the property. Because they are evidence of cash flow, the agreements are of a particular importance to lenders or potential buyers. 

Landlords generally require tenants to sign estoppel certificates as part of due diligence items because they show evidence of cash flow. In these cases, the landlord might have to prove to the lender or potential buyer that the tenant is current in the financial obligations. Then the lenders, and would-be investor/buyers rely on this to show what the landlord said about the monthly deposits is valid and that the term of the lease will be in place. When the tenant signs this document, they are verifying the conditions and status of the lease.   

Must Tenants Sign the Estoppel Certificate? 

Generally, the certificates usually don’t pose any risks for tenants. However, the document isn’t intended to be used in place of a lease, and the tenant should read it thoroughly to note differences. 

If the original lease states that a tenant is required to complete an estoppel certificate, then they are legally required to do so. If tenant doesn’t sign, they can be in breach of the lease and face eviction. In the context of commercial real estate, it’s typically a good idea for the tenant to complete the certificate because it may include details not in the original lease.   

What Are the Benefits to Involved Parties?

The estoppel certificate provides assurance to landlords and lenders that the tenant’s promises are kept. When the landlord and the potential buyer are negotiating, this acts as the purchaser’s due diligence for ongoing cash flow and assists with dodging unexpected expenses.   

For tenants, the certificate provides confirmation that the landlord won’t alter the terms of the lease. It also keeps them in compliance with the lease if the lease requires them to sign an estoppel certificate.

Additionally, the contract has information about upcoming lease extensions and renewals. Estoppel certificates also reveal issues that can indicate if either party has breached any duties over the course of the lease. 

Get Your Estoppel Certificate Questions Answered by an Attorney

Typically speaking, estoppel certificates are a straight-forward feature of commercial leases. However, there are times when they can cause certain issues to spring up that you may need an attorney’s help with. If you have problems in this area, don’t hesitate to get a lawyer involved to answer your questions. Contact us here at MOWK Law for assistance with this and all your New York real estate concerns.

5 Tips for NY HOAs Rule Enforcement

Homeowners’ associations (HOAs) in New York and elsewhere exist to maintain home values, make amenities available that enhance the living situation and must establish policies that apply to all of the properties in the association. When a homeowner doesn’t follow this, the Board should act. Read on to learn about helpful tips to enforce HOA rules. 

1. Act Quickly: Once you’re aware of a violation, you should act quickly. For example, instead of waiting for an owner to complete construction on a project that breaks HOA rules, you should nip this in the bud. You would lessen the amount of time that the property is in violation and could also possibly save the homeowner money as well.   

2. Deliver a Written Warning: This is a good beginning course of action. The warning will include the specific details of the incident. In many cases, this is enough to dissuade many homeowners from breaking any further rules. 

3. Levy Monetary Penalties and/or Take Away Privileges: Breaking the rules should bring penalties and hitting a homeowner in the pocketbook with fines is something that can help to discourage rule-breaking. But the HOA must ensure that they don’t impose an unreasonable amount and must strive to strike a balance between the offense and trying to make a major difference in behavior. While a homeowner may resent being hit with a fine, the longer the fines remain unpaid, the more penalties they incur; the HOA may have to take legal action. Because amenities like clubhouses, terraces, and other perks are part of HOA living, another alternative is to suspend the violator’s privileges. 

4. Place Liens on the Property: If there is a serious rule violation, the HOA can place a lien on the homeowner’s property. However, placing the lien doesn’t necessarily equal compensation. A lawsuit could ensue. Also, if the homeowner chooses to sell their property, the new owner may need to pay the lien settlement as part of the purchase.  

5. Use a Standard Procedure/Don’t Engage in Selective Enforcement: While enforcing rules can sometimes be difficult, you can make it easier to follow through by incorporating a standard procedure. That way when a violation comes up, you know exactly how to handle it and are less likely to deviate from the practice. 

You may feel compelled to deal with an HOA rule violation with leniency if you know the reason why an individual committed the violation. However, this is not a good approach because inconsistent rule enforcement may lead to allegations of discrimination even if this was not the intent.  

Contact an HOA Attorney about Rule Enforcement

It’s critical for HOAs boards to set out rules and to enforce discipline when owners break them. The governing documents should contain specific instructions for dealing with violations. If they don’t, you will want to correct this. This is where an experienced attorney can assist you. Fortunately, the lawyers at MOWK Law are well-versed in this area and will work hard to come up with viable solutions for your rule enforcement issues. Contact us today for further information.

What Are Some Contingencies in New York Real Estate Contracts?

When you purchase or sell a home or other real estate, you will typically make an offer that may have some contingencies. A contingency is a condition that the parties may put into their real estate contract. Their presence is a way to protect the investment and to get out of the situation, depending on whether particular situations arise (as they often do). Read on to learn about some contingences you should be aware of if you’re purchasing a home in New York. 

Some common contingencies are:

  • Home Inspection Contingency: This contingency requires a certified home inspector to inspect the property within a specified time period. It’s up to the buyer to select the inspector and to schedule the inspection. Generally, the contract will contain language that provides for the termination of the contract if the inspection unearths issues that the seller isn’t willing to fix or negotiate. If the inspector does find problems, then you can request repairs or a lower price. This should be contemplated in the contract and should include how long it can take to remedy. If the seller refuses, then you can either allow the contingency to expire or terminate the contract and recover your deposit.
  • Appraisal Contingency: This contingency is based on the property being appraised to confirm its value for your mortgage lender. Before your mortgage is set, the lender wants to make sure that the purchase price syncs up with the fair market value. The lender usually determines appraisal values based on comparable recent home sales, tax records, and an in-person evaluation of the property by a third-party appraiser. If the appraisal is in line with the purchase price, the sale will go on, but if the appraisal comes in lower than the purchase price, you should discuss options with your loan officer. If you can’t work out a loan restructure, the appraisal contingency allows you to rescind your offer without losing money.    
  • Financing Contingency: This contingency (aka mortgage contingency) is a provision that allows you to back out of the purchase if you can’t secure financing within a certain timeframe. You can cancel the transaction and recoup your earnest money. 
  • Sale Contingency: If you’re already a homeowner, and you want to buy a new one, there’s the issue of whether you sell your existing home first. This contingency provides a specific timeframe for you to sell your current home. If you can’t sell it in by the deadline, you can withdraw your offer and recoup your earnest money deposit.  

Get Legal Help with Contingencies

Sometimes you may not want to have a contingency. Perhaps, you’re trying to make an offer more attractive to the seller. But if you need it, it’s something that a skilled attorney can help you with. Get in touch with one of our knowledgeable MOWK Law attorneys who can help tailor your contract to meet your needs and expectations. Contact us right away to get started.

How Long is Probate in New York?

When your loved one dies, the probate process might be a necessary avenue to manage and distribute their estate. Even if you don’t know much about probate, you’ve probably heard that it’s something to avoid if possible and that the time to take to complete it is something people often worry about. Typically, most estates are probated in about a year. However, various factors can prolong the process or can make it go even quicker. Read on to learn about how long the probate process can take in New York.

What is the Probate Process?

Let’s clarify what probate is before beginning a discussion about how long you should expect it to take. Probate refers to the legal process in which a deceased person’s affairs are handled; the resolution of this includes obtaining their assets, paying off debts and expenses, and distributing any of the decedent’s remaining assets to their named beneficiaries and heirs.

Appointment of the Executor

A starting point in the process is the appointing of an executor (or administrator). This is the individual in charge of managing the issues of the estate and probate process. Although the executor/administrator has been chosen by the decedent in their will, the executor must still be appointed by the court. Beneficiaries of the estate can challenge the appointment of an executor, in addition to the validity of the will.

Settlement of the Estate

Once the executor is approved, they act on the estate’s behalf and begin the work of settling the estate. This includes:

Finding assets and safeguarding them
Paying debts and expenses
Paying taxes

Closing the Estate

For this, there is a summary of assets and liabilities, or a final accounting of the estate, that must be approved by the court or signed off by the beneficiaries. Any funds that remain are distributed to the named beneficiaries.

Length of Time it Takes for Completing Probate Steps

Appointment of Executor/Administrator: Approximately 4-6 months
Settling the Estate: Approximately 6-9 months
Closing the Estate: Approximately 1-3 months

The Timing of the Probate Process

This sound simple and most cases take an average about 12- 15 months but can range from several months to up to 3 years. Considerations that may impact the length of process include:

Accounting costs
Beneficiaries try to remove the executor/administrator
Creditors’ claims against the estate
Difficulty with locating assets
Substantial assets in the estate
The complexity of the specific estate
Will contests

Is Probate Required in New York?

Probate is generally necessary, regardless of whether or not an individual had a will. However, New York law does not require it for small estates (estates with less than $50,000 in assets). In these instances, the court will either appoint an executor named in the decedent’s will, or an heir of the descendant if they left no will, as a voluntary administrator. Then the court will issue a certificate for each asset that is collected and distributed by the administrator.

Understand Probate in NY with an Attorney’s Help

With proper estate planning, it’s possible to have your loved ones avoid unnecessary problems inheriting your property after probate is complete. An experienced attorney understands the pros and cons of ways to transfer property and can help navigate the system and use several estate planning tools to take away certain assets away from the probate estate. You can contact one of our skilled MOWK New York estate planning lawyer to help you get started.

Should You Sell Your Home to a House Flipper?

When you’re getting ready to sell your house, there are many things to consider. And it takes a lot of work to get it ready for the market. Depending on your situation, you might wonder whether you should sell to a house flipper, and if house flippers are worth it? There’s no quick answer to this; you will have to look at your specific situation to see if this is a good fit for you. Read on to see what questions you should ask before you decide to sell your New York home to a house flipper. 

Are you Facing a Crisis/Emergency and/or Need to Relocate? 

Maybe you are in the middle of a family emergency, such as the kind where you need to relocate in a hurry. Or you’re in a financial crisis, which means that you need money quickly and aren’t as concerned about a typical drawn-out sale. If any of this applies to you, you might be fine selling to a house flipper.

Is Your Home Falling Apart? Severely Damaged?

Has your home fallen apart? Is it in a state of major disrepair? If your home has fallen on hard times and is in a state of major disrepair, you need to contemplate how this figures into selling it. It will take a lot to bring it up to snuff and to make it marketable. If the structure must be taken down to the bare bones, it’s not the best scenario for a traditional sale and a house flipper might be an attractive option. A cash buyer may be in a much better position to purchase it than someone with a conventional or government-sponsored loan. Of course, even flippers might avoid certain things and may be leery of foundation problems or the need for termite treatment.

Are You Intimidated by the Listing Process?

If you sell to a flipper, you don’t have to do the type of work to get the property ready for market that you normally would have to do, such as staging and making videos and photos available. You won’t have to deal with the process of arranging showings and having people walking through your home. If you are intimidated or overwhelmed by these things, selling to a house flipper can ease this load.  

Are You Aware of the Flipper Pricing Model?

Do you know about the flipping industry standard 70 percent rule, which states that an investor will offer no more than 70 percent of a property’s after-repair value, (AVR), for a house they plan to flip? If a property needs repairs, those estimated costs would be subtracted from that 70 percent.

While this doesn’t assure a flipper a profit, it does allow for a prompt calculation with flexibility for expenses such as taxes, utilities, and other costs that can tear away an expected profit while the property is on the market. But if your home is such that the ARV is so low in comparison to the repairs that are need, then it’s not worth the investment.  

Will your Home Appeal to House Flippers in the Area?

Is the location in a place where buyers want to be? Not being a historic property is also important. Is it capable of rehab possibilities fairly quickly?

How Soon Do You Need to Close?

One of the greatest advantages to selling your home to a flipper is the benefit of getting a quicker closing. If you need to go it fast, consider a flipper.

Talk to a New York Real Estate Attorney

If you’re considered selling your home, your next step should be to contact a skilled NY real estate attorney. Regardless of whether you decide to sell to a flipper or not, consulting with an attorney will help to ensure a smooth transition. Contact an experienced MOWK Law attorney for help with this and your real estate law needs.