February 9, 2016

Having represented countless purchasers of residences in Westchester County, New York, we pride ourselves on being detailed-oriented so that our clients can make informed decisions as to how they wish to proceed.  Below are some of the items purchasers often include in their analysis during a residential real estate transaction.  This list is by no means exhaustive and each property is unique.  Therefore, we recommend speaking with an experienced attorney who can help develop a customized scope of due diligence that addresses their concerns so that they enter into the transaction with their eyes wide open, so to speak.

Sewer/Septic.  Is the residence on public sewer or septic?  If septic, the purchaser will typically ask the home inspector or septic expert to insect the system and advise as to any recommended maintenance.

Drinking Water.  Is the residence on public water or well water?  If well water, the seller is required to have the drinking water tested by a qualified laboratory.

Home Inspection/Engineering Report.  Even when a purchaser intends to make substantial improvements, he/she will almost always have a home inspector perform a comprehensive evaluation of the home, including all major systems, roof, and foundation.

Zoning/Wetlands.  The purchaser will want to determine whether all structures have a Certificate of Occupancy or letter from the building inspector stating that the structure pre-dates the issuance of Certificates of Occupancy.  Purchasers who wish to change the use of a structure (e.g. a detached garage into a guest cottage or office) may wish to perform a zoning analysis to determine what permits are required, the approval process and timeline.  Purchasers will often want to look at whether there are wetlands on the property which may impact their ability to construct an addition or new structure such as a detached garage, tennis court or swimming pool.

Taxes.  Some purchasers may wish to determine in advance whether the real estate taxes can be reduce by filing a grievance or tax certiorari petition in New York State Supreme Court.

Condo/Coop/HOA.  If the property is located in a Condominium, Cooperative Corporation or Homeowner Association, the purchaser will want to carefully review the Offering Plan, Declaration of Covenants, By-Laws, financial reports, and other relevant items.

Title and Survey.  Ideally the seller will provide a copy if its title and survey from the time the seller purchased the residence.  This saves time and money.  In certain instances it may be prudent to order a title search before signing a Contract of Sale.  In most instances the contract will allow a buyer to order a title search after signing the contract and notify the seller of any title deficiencies.

Environmental.  Purchasers often have questions about oil tanks, radon, mold, lead-based paint and other environmental issues.  In some cases it may be prudent to have a qualified environmental professional perform an inspection and, where appropriate, develop a remediation plan.

Inclusions/Exclusions.  Purchasers should clarify whether any personal property (furniture) will be included and whether any fixtures (such as chandeliers) will be excluded, and check the contract carefully before signing to ensure that it accurately reflects the intent of the parties.

Having an experienced attorney to help guide a purchaser through the process can help ensure that the transaction goes smoothly and all parties are satisfied with the result.

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The Law Offices of Keith R. Betensky, Esq.
The Empire Building
26 Village Green, Suite 4
P.O. Box 22
Bedford, New York 10506-0022
(914) 338-8050
keith@betenskylaw.com
www.betenskylaw.com