Hi, my name is Andrew Weltchek. I’m a partner at the law firm of Cohen, Hochman, and Allen. I represent individuals and businesses in New York City who owned property and have problems. They need to buy or sell or lease or resolve a dispute, have a fight with the neighbor, with the city. God forbid they have to go to court. If you own property or manage property or are a commercial tenant in property in New York City, you have problems, you come to me and I help.
One of the questions people ask me is, how can I go to a closing to buy or sell a piece of property in New York with social distancing — for the shutdown during the middle of the pandemic? And the short answer is, you do it like the rest of the country has been doing it forever.
You have what’s called an escrow closing, where all the documents and everything that has to be arranged is taken care of in advance and held by an escrow agent, which is usually a title company and once the terms of the escrow agreement has been agreed to and each party to the transaction has indicated officially that they are satisfied with their requirements have been met, then the title agent releases the deed and the money.
When you buy or sell a property, you’re going to give a deed to the title for the property, and you’re going to receive money. Very often you’re going to borrow that money if you’re the buyer, so there’s gonna be another person in the room or in the transaction, the lender or known also as the mortgagee and both the mortgagee lender and the buyer are going to want yet another, a fourth character, which is the title company, not just as the escrow agent, but to provide insurance that covers the risk that the seller, somehow or another, doesn’t have full clean title to the property to some claim or lien or other problem with the property out there that the buyer doesn’t want any part of.
So he buys insurance and his lender or her lender or its lender also buys that insurance — charges it, of course, to the buyer. All of those interests have to be represented by a whole lot of paper and a whole lot of signing, which bearing… normally has to be subject to notarization and in New York, we were old fashioned for many years and did all of that in a room together with everybody face to face. This very often provided opportunities for people to delay endlessly and fight.
I remember once I went to a closing that started at noon, and we didn’t get finished until 5 a.m. the next morning. When you do it remotely like most people do in the rest of the country, including the Garden State, New Jersey, where I live, you don’t have that. You do all of that clearance, all of that careful due diligence ahead of time and all that happens on the closing date is the title company assures everybody that everything has been taken care of properly.
Everybody signs off on that electronically, so to speak, and then you complete the closing, thank you very much.
My name’s Andrew Weltchek, partner at Cohen, Hochman, and Allen. You could call me on my cell at any time at 973-223-4567, thank you.