Real Estate

Whether you are buying or selling a home, in a real estate law dispute, or contemplating a real estate transaction, it is important to know your rights and have them explained to you by a real estate lawyer. Real estate law encompasses a broad range of issues in relation to property law that you may have never thought about before such as, easement disputes, foreclosures, injuries, property taxes, neighbor relations, property deeds, real estate warranties, different types of mortgages, insurance, and issues related to buying and selling real estate.

I. Offer and Contract Review

If you are working with a licensed realtor, your realtor will likely assist you in making an offer to purchase. Contracts prepared by a realtor provide a three-day attorney review period, during which either party may review the proposed contract with their attorney. During the attorney review period, the contract may be approved, disapproved or approved with changes. It is in your interest to discuss the contract with your attorney during the three-day review period to determine whether any revisions to the realtor's standard form of agreement are in your interest, and to assist you in evaluating and responding to any proposed revisions made by the Seller's attorney.

Question : The realtor is telling us to sign the Contract before it is reviewed by an attorney. Is this proper?

Answer : If this is a deal brought about by a licensed realtor (as opposed to a home which was For Sale By Owner), then it is normal and acceptable for you to sign the Contract first. However, you must make sure that the fully signed Contract is immediately delivered or faxed to your attorney. The three-day attorney review period runs whether or not the Contract has been delivered to your attorney.

II. Mortgage Application

In most residential real estate purchases, the Buyer agrees to immediately, efficiently and aggressively pursue the mortgage financing necessary to complete the purchase. The Buyer's application for mortgage financing must be completed immediately following the conclusion of the attorney review period, if not before. In most cases, the Buyer should have the mortgage lender chosen prior to making the initial offer.

A typical agreement will include a mortgage contingency clause, which will give the Buyer a period of between 30 and 60 days to receive a firm commitment for a mortgage loan to complete the purchase.


The mortgage commitment is an important document. Prior to signing it, you must carefully read and understand what the Lender will require of you in order for the Lender to provide the money needed to close.

III. Home Inspection

Residential real estate contracts permit the Buyer, at his own expense, to conduct an inspection of the premises in order to determine the existence of any structural, mechanical or non-apparent deficiencies. The inspections are for the Buyer's protection. Upon closing of the purchase, the Buyer owns the home, and Seller has no responsibility for the condition of the home.

IT IS THE BUYER'S OBLIGATION TO ARRANGE FOR THESE INSPECTIONS. Often, if you are working with a realtor, the realtor will assist you, if requested, in scheduling inspections. It is important that the Buyer keep our office informed of the status of all inspections.

The contract will establish a time period during which these inspections must be completed, typically 10 to 14 days after completion of the attorney review period. Please arrange to have the inspection company forward copies of its written report to our office within the required time period. Upon your receipt of the results of these inspections, contact our office to discuss any problems revealed by the inspections. We will assist you in negotiating with the Seller to resolve any such deficiencies.

Question : What inspections should be ordered?

Answer : In most cases, the Buyer should order a general structural home inspection, a radon inspection, and a wood boring insect inspection. The Buyer may also consider inspections that pertain to asbestos, mold, stucco, overhead wires, swimming pools, septic tanks. The Buyer may also consider ordering an underground oil tank sweep to determine if there are underground oil tanks on the property.

Question : What if there is a well and/or septic system on the property?

Answer : A septic system should be inspected. There are a few different types of septic inspections available, which should be discussed with a home inspector.
A well must be inspected. In the sale of a property on which there is a well, the parties will have to comply with New Jersey's Private Well Testing Act, N.J.S.A. 58: 12a-26 to 37. This law requires testing, but it does not state who pays for those tests. Often the Seller pays for the cost of the well testing. At closing both parties are required to sign a certificate reflecting that they have both received and reviewed the well test results.

VI. Closing of Title

The date of the closing set forth in the contract is only an estimated closing date. The actual date will be scheduled by our office in consultation with the Buyer and the Seller's attorney.

Typically, on the afternoon immediately prior to the closing, we will prepare the final figures in consultation with the mortgage company and the Seller's attorney. Once this calculation has been completed, our office will contact you with the exact amount of money you should bring to the closing to cover the remaining down payment and any closing costs attendant to the closing.

Question : What must I bring to the closing?

Answer : A certified check, bank check, or cashier's check in the amount provided by our office. Unless instructed otherwise, the check should be payable as follows: "Jared M. Witt Attorney Trust Account". Alternatively, funds may be wired directly to our attorney trust account. Please contact our office and we will provide you with wiring instructions. All wires must be placed at least one day prior to closing to ensure receipt on the day of closing.
In addition, you should bring proof of homeowner's insurance (declaration page and one year paid receipt). It is also a good idea to bring a few personal checks in the unlikely event minor adjustments need to made between the parties at closing.
If you are married, bring your spouse, or if you purchased the home with a partner, you must both be present at the closing.

Make sure you know the answers to potentially damaging information such as:

  • Are there any zoning violation issues with the property?

  • Are there present or past environmental hazards a problem on the property?

  • Are there covenants or restrictions on the property that would limit my use of the property?

  • Will my mortgage change over time? Can I afford to make all the payments over time?

  • Are there potential issues with the chain of title to the house that may interfere with my full ownership of the property?

  • Is the property value estimate accurate?

  • What are / can I afford my real estate taxes?

The Law Office of Andrew Miller. Esq. has been Helping People for Over 30 Years.
Let us help you, Call for your free consultation today.


1550 New Road, Suite A,

Northfield, NJ 08225

Phone. (609) 645-1599

Fax. (609) 645-7554