It seems that almost everyone has a brother-in-law, uncle, cousin, best friend or golf partner who is a lawyer.
How tempting to ask that individual to handle your real estate transaction. The trust and savings that can be your benefit must be hard to match.
But if that attorney lives outside New York City, you may well be making a big mistake.
We conduct transactions here like no place else, unfortunately, and a lawyer unfamiliar with the process is prone to screw things up by causing delays and even precipitating the death of your transaction.
What brings the issue to mind was an experience a broker friend of mine had recently. The buyer of one of her listings had a lawyer who sent to the building’s property manager a questionnaire that went on for an unprecedented (to my knowledge) 24 pages. That’s not a typo: 24. And, oh, he killed the deal.
Especially in New York City and more so in Manhattan, the co-op board approval process is uncommonly involved, and out-of-town lawyers lacking experience with such purchases should not be retained. And I mean that categorically.
They won’t want to travel to the property manager’s office to read minutes, may not have the grounding to analyze the minutes or other building documents correctly, likely won’t be able to evaluate the one- or two-inch stack of paper making up a co-op board application, and probably never heard of an Aztec recognition agreement. (The agreement defines the rights of lender, co-operative and borrower in the event of foreclosure of a co-op.)
If you’re either borrower or seller and also a risk taker, go ahead and be penny wise. But consider yourself warned that there is a strong likelihood you will be pound foolish if you hire an out-of-town attorney.
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022