The Law Office of David M. Watkins              285 Closter Dock Road, Closter, N.J. 07624
Phone (201) 768-0301
Fax (201) 768-3125

Real Estate
Every day, we help people buy and sell their property. With thirty years experience in representing clients who are purchasing or selling a piece of property, we can help you.
  • Contract review and preparation
  • Loan Closings
  • Title Searches
  • Refinances
  • Preparation and Review of Deeds
  • Preparation and Review of Mortgages
  • Preparation and Review of Leases

Our attorneys and paralegals understand that for most people, buying or selling a home is the single biggest legal commitment they will ever make. For many, it will be the only time they ever visit a lawyer's office.

We try to make every closing as easy as possible.

We also make sure that when you leave, you fully understand your rights and obligations. Whether you are a first-time homebuyer who is nervous, or a home buying veteran short on time, we can give you a tailor-made real estate closing with a support network that continues after you leave our office.

I. The Closing Process for a Real Estate Transaction

A. The Contract

A typical real estate transaction begins when a buyer and a seller agree on terms in a written contract This contract sets out the rights of both the buyer and the seller. It also sets out which closing costs will be paid by the buyer and which will be paid by the seller.

B. Your Lender

After agreeing to a contract, the next step in the process is for the buyer to find a lender to finance the purchase. Choosing a reputable lender is easily the most important decision after deciding which property to buy. You and your lender will negotiate the terms of your loan. Some terms to consider: (1) the interest rate; (2) the amount of the loan; (3) a fixed vs. adjustable rate mortgage; (4) length of the loan; (5) interest-only loans; (6) federally insured loans; (7) paying "points;" and (8) the fees charged by your lender.

Your lender is required to give you a disclosure called a "Good Faith Estimate." This estimate attempts to disclose all of the fees and costs involved in your closing. Most lenders and mortgage brokers do an excellent job in estimating the closing costs, but you should know that this disclosure is only an educated estimate. The amount you will have to pay at closing may be different.

C. Insurance

After you have made arrangements with a lender, you are responsible for obtaining homeowners' insurance on your new property. You need to find an insurance agent as quickly as possible. Most people choose to pay their homeowners insurance premium at closing.

D. Property Taxes

The amount you will pay in property taxes at closing depends on what time of year your closing is scheduled. The property taxes will be divided between the buyer and the seller according to the length each will own the property in the calendar year. Normally, the seller pays its portion of the year's property taxes on the day of closing. When the property tax bill comes due at the end of the year, the buyer is responsible for paying the entire tax bill.

    Escrow Accounts for Property Taxes and Insurance 
               Lenders usually require an account known as an "escrow account" that will pay your property tax bill every year. Your lender will pay
               your property tax bill at the end of the year following your closing. Lenders also usually pay your homeowner's insurance premium from the
               escrow account.

E. The Attorney/Paralegal Role

The attorney or paralegal has several functions in the closing process. First, a title search is performed to make sure the buyer receives clear title to the property. A title insurance policy is issued confirming this fact. Second, the terms and provisions of the contract are applied. However, if the buyer and the seller disagree about how a contract term should be interpreted, the attorney has no authority to decide the dispute. Third, the loan is closed in compliance with the instructions received from the lender. Finally, all closing funds are disbursed appropriately.

II. The Closing

The closing is where title to property is transferred and money changes hands. It is also where a large stack of documents is signed by the buyer. The vast majority of documents signed are disclosures from the lender that the borrower may have already signed (but still has to sign again). Among these papers will be the Settlement Statement, a Promissory Note, payment information, and a Mortgage. Your lender will also require you to sign a large number of disclosures about your loan.

The Settlement Statement is typically the first document that is signed.  The Settlement Statement (or "HUD") itemizes every closing cost. The Settlement Statement also shows the "bottom lines" for the buyer and the seller.

The Promissory Note contains the terms of the loan. It sets the interest rate, amount borrowed, and amount of the monthly payment. The Mortgage provides security for the Promissory Note and gives the lender the right to foreclose if the borrower defaults. The Deed is the legal document that transfers title to the property from the seller to the buyer.


Aggressive and Effective Representation


The Law Office of David M. Watkins
285 Closter Dock Road
Closter, N.J. 07624
(201) 768-0301
FAX (201) 768-3125

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