Part 3*: How is the property being sold described in a Residential Contract of Sale in New York?

The first paragraph of the standard form of Residential Contract of Sale in New York defines the real property being transferred. There are several methods for describing real property in a contract of sale. While the street address is typically included, the street address is not considered a legal description. Common practice is to attach as Schedule A, a copy of the legal description from the Seller’s vesting deed and add the local tax map designation. If that is not feasible then the property can be surveyed, and the surveyor can provide a “metes and bounds” description as an addendum to the contract. If the lot is being created pursuant to a subdivision, the legal description may refer to the lot number on a subdivision plat duly filed in the office of the County Clerk.

The legal description of the subject property is important so that the purchaser understands exactly what they bargained for. In some cases, such as a single-family home in an old subdivision, the property description is fairly obvious. However, there may be other instances where the description is important. For example, if the Seller owns multiple contiguous lots or of the seller owns one large lot and is subdividing the lot being sold.

The standard form of Residential Contract of Sale also includes the following language in the description of the property being sold: “Together with Seller’s ownership and rights, if any, to land lying in the bed of any street or highway, opened or proposed, adjoining the Premises to the center line thereof…”

*Thank you for taking the time to read this article. This article is part of our “From Contract to Closing; Demystifying NY Residential Real Estate” Series. Other aspects of residential real estate transactions in New York are discussed in other Parts of this series.

For questions about residential real estate law, or general information about our firm, please contact us at (914) 338-8050 or send an e-mail to We look forward to hearing from you.

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