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Welcome to the O'Sullivan & Zacchea Law Blog! Check back regularly for practical legal tips on real estate, trust and estates, elder law and other everyday legal matters. 

  • What You Should Know About The Short Sale Process

    As we have had many inquiries about the issues surrounding the process of completing a short sale we thought this article would be a helpful way to respond to those inquiries and provide some facts about the short sale process. Here you'll find some information on short sales and their challenges and the tools we can provide to help you navigate this process.

    What is a Short Sale?

    A short sale is a transaction in which the bank holding the mortgage agrees to accept less than the mortgage amount owed by the current homeowner. The homeowner must apply to the bank and receive approval in order to complete a short sale. Since a short sale generally costs the bank less than completing a foreclosure on a home, it can be a viable way for a bank to minimize its losses. A short sale may also be the best option for a homeowner who is “upside down” or “underwater” on a mortgage because a short sale may not hurt their credit history as much as a foreclosure. As a result, homeowners may qualify for another mortgage sooner once they get back on their feet financially.

    What should I expect if I decide to do a Short Sale?

    The short sales process itself present a number of challenges for home owners and this is where an experienced attorney can help. Many attorneys are new to the short sales process or have never done one, a difficulty which is compounded by the fact that many banks lack a sufficient and experienced staff to process short sales. Most banks will have their own guidelines on how to handle a short sale request and then complete the sale. This makes it very difficult and time-consuming for home owners who are already in a difficult situation.

    If you are thinking about selling your home through a short sale you should choose a law firm that already has experience dealing with banks and real estate agents in a short sale transaction. At the law firm of O’Sullivan & Zacchea we have represented distressed homeowners who have sold their homes through short sales. We work with our clients at every step to ensure the process is as easy and fast as possible. If you are considering selling your home through a short sale please contact the law firm of O’Sullivan & Zacchea at (718) 713-3499 and ask to speak with Kevin O’Sullivan or Peter Zacchea.

  • Partition: Forcing the Sale of Jointly Owned Property

    REAL ESTATE AND LENDING MAR 12nd 2015

    Partition: Forcing the Sale of Jointly Owned Property

    If you own a piece of property with someone in New York and have come to find this co-ownership situation unbearable or undesirable, you can force the other party to sell the property even if they do not wish to do so. Under the law, this remedy is commonly referred to as a partition action ("partition"). 

    While many individuals are unaware or unfamiliar with this process, it is a viable option for those who can no longer tolerate or afford co-owning property with another person. Typically, the courts will not require you to give a reason as to why the property much be sold. All a party bring a partition action must prove is that they are a legal co-owner of the property at the time the action is started. 

    Usually, you may have come to co-own property as a result of a business venture or if you and a relative took title to a home as a result of inheritance. As such, there are two different types of relief you can seek in a partition action.

    The First-- Partition in Kind

    A partition in kind physically divides the property so that each party has their own parcel of land and an undivided interest in that parcel. A simple example of this distribution would be if 100 acres were owned by two business partners. After a partition action, the land is divided into two and each party owns 50 acres. 

    The Second--Partition by Sale

    Partition in kind is best suited for unimproved land, such as fields or open spaces. However, when land is "improved", where a house or building has been developed, it becomes more difficult to achieve an equal distribution of the property. In these situations, the home or building may have to be sold to complete the partition action. The home or building is sold at auction and the co-owners divide the proceeds between them after the sale is finalized. This is the most common type of partition action in New York City. 

    Should you find yourself in a position where a co-owner does not feel the same way you do about the sale of a home or building, please feel free to call O'Sullivan & Zacchea for a free consultation with Kevin O'Sullivan or Peter Zacchea. You can also contact us by email at kosullivan@ozatlaw.com or pzacchea@ozatlaw.com. 

  • The First Step in Closing Your Co-op Transaction: Scheduling

    REAL ESTATE LAW SEP 9th 2014

    The First Step in Closing Your Co-op Transaction: Scheduling

    In an earlier blog, we mentioned that common refrain: "It's just a simple co-op purchase." Phrased another, perhaps more accurate way, it's "the secured acquisition of the shares of a cooperative corporation and the concurrent assumptions of a proprietary lease". On second thought, that sounds too sophisticated and too expensive. We'd rather go back to living in our parents' place! Relax! An experienced, knowledgeable attorney will be able to translate the second sentence into the first sentence and bring you from contract to closing in an efficient, mostly painless, manner.

    In this entry, we're going to start where all stories start: at the end. We're going to focus on the closing schedule and explain the basis of the symptomatic frustration commonly associated with the process.

    Regardless of the value of the transaction, cooperative transactions can require more attorney time than other residential transactions simply because of the large number of parties involves. First time purchasers are often surprised to learn that the (1) Board of Directors of the cooperative, (2) the managing agent, (3) cooperative attorney, (4) lender's counsel and (5) seller's bank (commonly calls the "payoff bank") all have significant roles in the acquisition. Keep in mind that these are parties in addition to (6) the seller, (7) the real estate broker, (8) mortgage broker and (9) seller's attorney! When considering the roster of parties involved (and realizing that there are as many as NINE parties essential to the deal), it's understandable that the process can be frustrating. Coordinating nine of anything is challenging- let alone the busy schedules of professionals.

    Before we delve into the specific individual requirements of each party (we'll do that in future blogs), let's start with a general understanding that each of the parties has their own interests to protect. In broad terms, the cooperative's Board of Directors is responsible to its shareholders. A such, they want to make sure that the buyer meets their specifications as a financially and personally upstanding member. The Managing Agent is hired by the Board of Directors. Their job is to insure compliance with the Board's internal processes (and make sure they remain hired by the Board of Directors), for that they coordinate with the Coop attorney (who is also hired by the Board of Directors). The coop attorney actually attends the closing, prepares and oversees execution of the legal instruments relating to your interest in the cooperative corporation.

    For most people, the purchase will be financed by a bank through a mortgage broker. The bank will also retain counsel to prepare and facilitate execution of the security instruments signed at closing in exchange for the loan. Similarly, the seller (who obtained a loan to purchase the unit that the buyer is purchasing) will also have a bank present-the payoff bank, who will be responsible for insuring that the old loan is paid off.

    In just that brief outlines of the various interests and roles played in a "simple" coop purchase, it's easy to see how the scheduling process can become a time-consuming morass. In order to alleviate the frustration cause by the scheduling process, we regularly review the closing requirements with each party in advance and maintain constant communication with each party in order to coordinate clearance in an orderly manner. By facilitating communication and coordinating approval, we reduce the risk of a "surprise" requirement (which will delay closing).

    Please feel free to contact us by phone or email (info@ozatlaw.com) if you would like us to represent you in the sale or purchase of a cooperative unit or any other real estate transaction. We're here to help.

  • First Time Home Buyers- Do I Really Need A Lawyer?

    First Time Home Buyers- Do I Really Need A Lawyer? 

    Congratulations! Your offer was accepted. You're just days (actually, months) away from owning your first home. Your first yard. Your first boiler. Your first real estate taxes. Wait, we're getting ahead of ourselves. Congratulations! Your offer was accepted. What no? Our suggestions: call a lawyer. Better yet, call a lawyer with real estate experience, like us. 

    We often hear a common refrain from first-time home buyer clients: "I have a simple matters; it's just a house purchase." Perhaps that's true, but the question remains- do you have the knowledge to examine a title policy, the experience to negotiate and interpret a contract of sale or the time to represent yourself? Assuming the answer is "no," another questions remains- do I need a lawyer? Well, in our view, if you have any questions, qualms or concerns about the transaction, then the answer is "yes". 

    In our experience, both as professionals and real estate owners, proper attorney representation is essential during the three phases of the transaction (the initial contracting process, the due diligence and the closing) to adequately protect your position, identity problems and present solutions. Each of these phases have unique characteristics and challenges (don't worry, we're going to tackle them in upcoming blogs) which can jeopardize or terminate a deal. An experienced, diligent attorney can quickly identify an issue and efficiently resolve the problem before it de-rails a deal. It's important that you work with someone who will take the time to explain the particulars of each challenge as they arise. 

    Too often, we take on clients who have a commenced a transaction with previous counsel. In all of those cases, the common theme is communication. We find the adage--a stick in time, saves nine--to be true. Many of the problems that we are called upon to resolve, could have been resolved in a more cost-efficient manner had counsel taken the time to identify the problem from the outset of the deal and coordinated communication with the parties to the deal. 

    For most people, a home is their most valuable asset, and represents their greatest debt. When the stakes are that high, it just makes sense to enlist a professional that you can trust to assist you in securing and protecting that asset. Please feel free to call us or email us if you would like us to represent you in any real estate transaction. 

How can we help you today?

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