FAQs | Real Estate

What can an experienced Toms River real estate attorney do for me?

  • Our attorneys can help you negotiate the terms of your contract.

New Jersey residential real estate contracts prepared by licensed real estate agents must contain an attorney review clause. The form real estate contracts that your agent may have you sign can be improved upon and altered by an attorney to provide you more protection as you buy and sell real estate. An experienced Toms River attorney can spot and correct potential problems during the attorney review period—long before they become realities—and explain other seemingly confusing terms to make the process easier to understand.

  • Our attorneys can help you negotiate credits or repairs for issues that arise during home inspections.

New Jersey real estate contracts often provide purchasers the opportunity to conduct home, termite, radon, well and/or lead inspections, depending on the factual scenario. If you are purchasing property, Costanzo & Russom Law Group can negotiate with the other party or the other party’s attorney on your behalf to help you obtain repairs or credits for defects uncovered during your inspection. If you are selling property, we can negotiate to help you minimize your losses. Contracts typically contain deadlines for home inspection repair requests and responses, but our promptness and organization ensures that you will never miss a contractual deadline.

  • Our attorneys will ensure that you are conveying or receiving clear and marketable title.

When purchasing or selling property, it is important to ensure that you are receiving or conveying clear title. Clear title, put simply, means ownership in the property free from any encumbrances. Encumbrances could include open mortgages, liens, judgments, child support arrears, tax liens, DMV liens, and many other title issues. For example, if the current or previous owners had judgments against them, they could attach to the property you are about to purchase and harm your ownership interest in the property.  Sellers have an obligation to convey title free from such encumbrances. Further, if you are buying property with another person or entity, you should know whether they have judgments against them which could attach to the property and harm your ownership interest so that they may be taken care of before you close title. Our Toms River real estate lawyers work with local title companies to run searches against the property and the parties to ensure that clear and marketable title title is conveyed and that purchasers obtain title insurance to protect their property interest in the future.

  • Our attorneys will ensure that title is properly conveyed and that all documents and payments required by government agencies, title companies, and mortgage companies are properly made.

When a home is purchased or sold, many documents need to be executed, many others need to be recorded or filed with the government, and there are fees and taxes that may need to be paid.  Our experienced Toms River attorneys know which documents need to be executed, how they should be executed, where and how they need to be filed, and what fees or taxes need to be paid. If you are selling real estate, we will prepare all of the documents you need, explain them to you, and send them to the appropriate entity or government agency. If you are purchasing real estate, we will review the seller’s documents to ensure they are done properly, explain the seller’s and your mortgage company’s documents to you, help you execute the mortgage package, and submit the documents to the appropriate entities.

What is a Contract of Sale?

A Contract is a legally enforceable agreement between two or more people. In the residential real estate context, a Contract of Sale is formed when a buyer makes an offer on a house, and a seller accepts that offer. If, alternatively, a seller makes a counter-offer, there is no Contract until the buyer accepts the counter-offer. If the buyer effectively revokes his offer before the seller accepts, there is no Contract.

A Contract of Sale outlines the terms of the agreement such as the purchase price, when the mortgage commitment is due, when closing is anticipated to occur, when home inspections are due, and what each party’s obligations are.

What is the Attorney Review period?

In New Jersey, residential real estate contracts prepared by licensed real estate agents must contain a clause that creates what is known as the attorney review period. Given the fast-paced nature of real estate contract execution, the parties rarely have time to consult an attorney as to the advisability of certain terms in their contract. The attorney review period gives both parties three business days (weekends and legal holidays do not count) after everyone has received a fully-executed contract to have an attorney review and disapprove of the terms of the contract before it becomes final.

During the attorney review period, either party may terminate the contract for any reason or no reason at all.  This does not mean, however, that the contract is not binding during the three-day period. The contract is, indeed, binding, unless a New Jersey licensed attorney disapproves of the contract within the three day period referenced above.

One of the more important things buyers and sellers should know is that the attorney review period does not have to be three days long. In fact, attorney review can be completed on the same day that the contract is executed and delivered to the parties if the attorneys are able to reach an agreement. If the attorneys reach an agreement, the contract becomes final and the parties may no longer terminate the deal under the attorney review clause even though three days have not yet passed. It is equally important for the parties to realize that once an attorney “disapproves” of the contract, negotiations for the terms of the contract may extend until the attorneys reach a new agreement regarding the terms of the contract—this may take longer than three days.

At Costanzo & Russom Law Group, our experienced residential real estate lawyers take pride in helping our clients navigate the attorney review process as quickly and painlessly as possible. Contact us today to speak with a Toms River lawyer, and let us help you get into that dream home.

What happens during the Home Inspection period?

Under most form New Jersey real estate contracts prepared by licensed real estate agents, Buyers have the right to conduct home inspections, which include termite, radon, septic, oil tank, and general home inspections. Sellers want to sell their house “AS IS”, which means that Buyers only get what the Seller currently has. This is why it is important for all Buyers to conduct home inspections so that they are aware of what the “AS IS” condition of the home might be.

This does not mean that the Sellers have to do nothing. Usually, Sellers must have all major appliances in working order. That means if the stove, refrigerator, microwave, washer or dryer is not working, Sellers must have them repaired before closing of title. Also, Sellers usually must ensure that the plumbing, electrical, heating, and air conditioning systems are in working order and that there are no leaks or seepage in the roof, walls, or basement/crawlspace. The “AS IS” condition of the house includes the fact that these systems and appliances are working and that they will work at closing.

When Buyers conduct their home inspections, it is important that they read the inspection report “cover to cover.” Buyers should be comfortable with the house they are purchasing. If there are major problems with the structure, Buyers have the right to request that repairs be made or, in some instances, ask for a repair credit at closing. Buyers should be aware, though, that Sellers are not obligated to make any of the requested repairs or offer or agree to any repair credit. What will ensue is a negotiation process between both parties’ attorneys. Once the parties reach an agreement in resolution of all home inspection issues, the transaction can move forward towards closing.

This process can be daunting and difficult. A Toms River attorney here at Costanzo & Russom Law Groupm can assist you and make this process as painless as possible. With our experience here at Costanzo & Russom Law Group, we can help you bring your real estate transaction to a smooth, and hopefully uneventful closing. Contact us now for a free consultation!

What are the different types of co-ownership in real estate?

In New Jersey, there are three basic types of co-ownership: (1) tenants in common, (2) joint tenants, and (3) tenants by the entirety. The first two types can be utilized in any real estate transaction where there are multiple purchasers. The third type, however, can be utilized only by husband and wife.

A tenancy in common exists where two or more people have an equal right to enjoy and possess a property but each has its own ownership interest. What sets a tenancy in common apart from other types of co-ownership is the fact that there is no right of survivorship. This means that in a tenancy in common, when one co-tenant dies, his property interest passes to his heirs instead of his co-tenant(s). Also, a co-tenant can sell his share of the property to a third party without the consent or notice of the other co-tenant(s). The sale of one co-tenant’s interest to a third party would result in that third party becoming a co-tenant with the remaining co-tenant(s).

A joint tenancy occurs where have an equal right to enjoy and possess a property and each has the same ownership interest. Joint tenants enjoy the rights of survivorship. This means that when one co-owner dies, his property interest passes to the remaining co-owner(s), not his heirs. Also, a co-owner can sell his share of the property to a third party without the consent or notice of the other co-tenant(s). The sale of one joint tenant’s interest to a third party would result in that third party becoming a co-tenant with the remaining co-owner(s).

A tenancy by the entirety exists where husband and wife take title to a property. This type of co-ownership is only available to married persons. If one spouse dies, then the other spouse receives complete ownership of the property. Neither spouse may convey their interest without the consent of the other spouse. If consent is received, the spouse may sell their interest to a third party, and that third party would become a tenant in common with the remaining spouse. The remaining spouse still would hold its right of survivorship.

For example, John and Jane own their house as tenants by the entirety. Jane consents to John selling his interest in the property. John sells to Irene. Irene becomes a tenant in common with Jane. If John dies, Jane receives complete ownership of the property, leaving Irene with no interest in the property. If Irene dies before John or Jane, her interest passes to her heirs.

How long does it take to obtain a mortgage commitment?

Given the current lending climate, it typically takes thirty to forty-five (30-45) days for a buyer to obtain a mortgage commitment. Buyers and sellers alike should understand that this length of time is not necessarily a reflection of the buyers’ ability to purchase real estate. Instead, lenders are under strict guidelines to obtain a lot of information from buyers and submit it through many review processes and personnel before a written commitment can be issued.

It is important that buyers and sellers understand these time constraints and manage their expectations of how quickly the deal will proceed to closing. An experienced Ocean County real estate attorney should advise his or her client of the amount of time it will take to obtain a mortgage commitment.

As a buyer, it is important that the due date for the mortgage commitment is realistic: if it is unrealistic, and a mortgage commitment cannot be issued within the contractual timeframe, the seller may have the right to terminate the contract. Certainly, the seller may be willing to offer an extension, but it is not required.

As a seller, it is important to understand how long your buyer will need to obtain a mortgage commitment. If you choose an offer with a mortgage because it offers a very quick closing, you may be very disappointed to discover that it was unrealistic. Once a mortgage commitment has been issued, it usually takes about two weeks for a lender to clear the file to close. Start to finish, it is most common for a purchase with a mortgage to take roughly sixty (60) days to close. Any expectations short of this time frame are often unrealistic and lead to discontent.

Should I refinance my mortgage?

Under certain circumstances, refinancing your mortgage can be very worthwhile. Refinancing your mortgage is taking out a new mortgage to pay off your existing mortgage. Refinancing also could involve combining both a primary and secondary mortgage into a single mortgage. Refinancing also could involve taking out a new mortgage to pay off an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM). This would be beneficial to those who want certainty as to their monthly payments. As a general rule, it is worthwhile to refinance your mortgage if your new interest rate is around 1 1/2 to 2 percentage points lower than your existing interest rate. Although it generally takes a few years to realize the savings of a lower interest rate, it could be beneficial to those who plan on staying in their home for an extended period of time. Also, there are costs associated with refinancing.

Click on the following link for more information: http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/refinancings/default.htm.