Answers to Our Frequently Asked Questions

The Law Office of Ehsanul Habib Is Here for You

At the Law Office of Ehsanul Habib, our attorney wants his clients to thoroughly understand their legal situation and options as best as possible. When it comes to real estate law or landlord-tenant law, a lot of legal concepts and jargon can muddy clear communication about important matters.

We’ve taken notice of some common questions we get from clients and provide answers that we think can help you have a better understanding of your legal challenges and how an attorney can help you resolve them. Read below to find out what other clients have asked!

  • Q:What are the first few steps while looking for real property to purchase?

    A:You need to have a pre-approval from a lender before stepping into the housing market. Pre-approval from a lender would give you an idea as to how much loan you would qualify for and how much would be needed as down payment. Once you like a particular property then you need to make an offer to purchase. Now, you need to decide what to offer as a purchase price. Each property is unique in terms of location and updates on the property. One has to speak to a realtor or an appraiser to determine what to offer as the best possible price that would be accepted by a seller. 

  • Q:Do I need to get an engineering inspection?

    A:Upon acceptance of your offer to purchase by seller you need to contact a closing lawyer and provide lawyer’s information to seller so that seller could send out a contract to your closing lawyer. During this period you must an get an engineering inspection of the property. This inspection tells you about the basic conditions, such as, condition of roof, types of boiler, heating units, plumbing condition, electricity connections, foundations, structural stability, water leakage in basement or in any other area of the property. In many case seller may not agree to fix many of the above conditions as most of old properties are sold in “AS IS” condition, however, this report would give you an idea as to the condition of the property you are buying or how much your future cost for property updates will be. 

  • Q:Do I need to get a termite inspection?

    A:You should order a termite inspection when you ask the inspector to do an engineering inspection of the property. In the event there is any presence of termites in the property, the seller will be responsible for the necessary treatment to cure the presence of the termites.

  • Q:Do I need to get an inspection for presence of lead or asbestos?

    A:Engineering inspection would indicate presence of lead or asbestos in the property. In the event presence of lead or asbestos are extensive one has to employ professionals to assess extent of presence of lead or asbestos in the property. After the year 1978 lead paints are not produced in the United States, so, many properties built before 1978 may still have lead paint under layers of paint used to repaint property after the year of 1978.

  • Q:How would I find out about condition of plumbing in a property?

    A:The engineering inspection would give you a glimpse of the plumbing condition in the property. Reports might suggest back flow of sewer water or clogging conditions in some areas of the property. In the event that such problems are serious, one has to engage a licensed contractor to find out details about the problem and costs associated to solve this problem.

  • Q:How would I find out about condition of roof in a property?

    A:The engineering inspection will reveal the condition of the roof.

  • Q:What if a GFCI outlets?

    A:GFCI outlets monitor the amount of power going to devices connected to the outlet. In the event that there are any imbalances, it will trip the circuit.

  • Q:What is the difference between ECB violation and HPD violations?

    A:ECB violations are issued by Department of Building for not being in compliance with Construction Code or Building Code in New York City. Let’s say someone made rooms, connected plumbing, gas lien for kitchen in basement without permission of the Department of Building then the owner may receive ECB violations for such work. This violation may carry monetary penalty and you have to restore the property in its condition pursuant to the Code or building plan. In order to remove violations you may need to take out permits as well. No one should purchase a property with ECB violations. These are liens on the property and must be cleared or resolved prior to the closing of title. HPD violations are not that serious in nature. These violations are not considered as lien. However, these must be cleared prior to closing as these violations may carry monetary penalty and need to get work done to resolve such violations.

  • Q:What is a vacate order?

    A:In the event you rent out or let anyone stay in a portion of property that is not meant to be a dwelling per the certificate of occupancy then the Department of Building may issue a vacate order and remove occupants and place them in a safe place. As a home owner you may be responsible for the costs associated with placing the removed tenant/occupant in a safe place until such tenant and/or occupant is placed in another location or moved to an apartment.

  • Q:Can I rent out my basement or celler for occupancy?

    A:Generally you cannot, in the event the certificate of occupancy states that the basement/celler is to be used as storage and not for dwelling.

  • Q:What is an open permit?

    A:Let’s say seller or someone who wanted to do some work obtained a permit from the Department of Building and did the work, however, never closed the permit by filing necessary paperwork. As a result, this permit is going show up as an open permit. Prior to closing, you as a home buyer, must make sure that the seller closes this open permit. No one should purchase a property with an open permit. You will have difficulty in selling this property in future with an open permit.

  • Q:What is final or title water reading?

    A:Whenever you sign a contract you must tell your lawyer that there should be a final water reading at the time of closing. In New York City all waters charges are considered lien on the property. Often, you may see an estimated bill or minimum bill in the title report. You must not close a property without a final water reading. Absence of a final reading may be related to not having a functional meter in the property. This may result in huge expenses.

  • Q:What is a side-walk lien?

    A:Side walk liens are associated with open violations for not fixing properly side walks near the property. One should not close a property with an open side-walk lien or violation. In the event the side walk has any problems, the seller has to obtain a permit and fix the defective side walk. Once the Department of Building does an inspection of the fixed side walk then the violation will be closed.

  • Q:What types of loans are best for me?

    A:There are many types of loans in the market. A good loan officer may get you the best loan product considering your financial condition. Some buyer use traditional banks for loans and some use mortgage brokers for loans. Both are good considering one’s unique financial condition, credit worthiness and type of property to be purchased.

  • Q:How to get government assistance for a grant?

    A:There are some programs in New York City, Nassau and Suffolk where one may be eligible for a one time grant for buying property to be used as residence. Ask your loan officer about these programs or you can visit their websites for more information. Neighborhood Housing Services of New York City: https://nhsnyc.org/

  • Q:What is seller’s concession?

    A:A seller’s concession means you can get a higher loan amount to cover the cost of your closing expenses. Here is an example you are buying a house for $100 and you want $10 seller’s concession, so the contract will be for $110 and the seller will receive $100 and you would retain the remaining $10 to cover your closing cost. The only catch is that the property has to appraise for $110 then you would be able to ask for a seller’s concession. If the seller feels that market value of the property is not more than contract price then the seller may not agree to this. Ask a loan officer whether you would be able to get a seller’s concession when you obtain pre-approval.

  • Q:Can a seller pay my closing costs?

    A:Usually, a seller shall not pay your closing cost, however, through a seller’s concession you may get a higher loan amount to cover your closing cost.

  • Q:What would be my approximate closing cost?

    A:It is usually not more than 5% of the purchase price of the property. Sometimes it is lower if you put more in down payment. This reduces your payment of the mortgage tax which is one of highest expenses of all title costs. If you take a FHA loan you may have to pay a one time premium that may increase your closing cost.

  • Q:What items are usually listed on the closing cost?

    A:The following items are usually listed on the closing cost: cost for buying owners policy, mortgage loan policy, survey, cost for different types of searches and fees for recording mortgage and deed. You will get a breakdown of all costs prior to closing from your lawyer.

  • Q:What is a an owners policy? Why do I need to buy owners policy if I take a lender’s policy?

    A:An owner’s policy protects a buyer from any matters relating to title and the amount paid to purchase the property. Such matters could be related to an error or omission in the deed, forgery of deed documents, fraud and mistakes in public records and claim by any previous owners’ unknown heirs. A title company shall stand by you and defend you in the event that any of the above matters arise from your home ownership. The loan policy covers the lender that finances your loan up to the amount of the loan. The loan policy does not cover you for the above matters. For this, one should always have owner’s policy.

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