The Basics of New York Title Reports

Buying property in New York can be both an exciting undertaking and a unique challenge. When it comes to real estate in the Empire State, you have to pay close attention to the details. How do you know you’re making a good deal, free of risks and liabilities? That’s where the title report comes into play.

The Role of the Title Report

When you’re in the market for a new property, you’ll have to comb through a number of records that contain important information about your prospective purchase. The title report is one of these key documents. It outlines ownership, vesting, encumbrances, and other details you should know about the property before you buy.

Basic Elements of a Title Report

You should always scrutinize your title report for possible property defects, liens, restrictions, and other unexpected problems with the help of an experienced real estate attorney. Here’s what you can expect from the contents of your title report.

  1. The legal description of the property

While the property description is intended to catch your eye in an advertising context, the legal description contains everything you really need to know. It includes a detailed description of the property’s location, its boundaries, and its relation to nearby streets and intersections. Legal descriptions for condos or planned unit developments (PUDs) will include their own unique details, like common areas, easements, and parking and storage information.

  1. Tax and lien information

Your title report should not show any outstanding taxes or liens that could cause the cancellation of your transaction. Property taxes will be listed as the first lien on any title report. Check whether the taxes are due or paid in full. Unless they have been paid, any debt holders cannot receive payment, and the property cannot be transferred to a new owner.

  1. Encumbrances and miscellaneous items

You might also see items like:

  • Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) are the set of rules associated with the property. If you’re buying a condo or PUD, you will be subject to these rules once you officially own the property.
  • An easement allows another property owner to access the property. You can remove it from the report as long as both parties agree.
  • Any mortgage liens will be listed in decreasing order from first to third, starting with the largest lien holder. The liens must be paid in that order once the sale closes.
  • If your property is located in a historic district, you may be subject to restrictions against facade renovations or alterations. Make sure you read about any planning requirements.

Seeking Professional Advice

As the buyer, it’s important for you to understand title reports, but you should never enter into a real estate transaction without adequate legal representation. The detail-minded attorneys at Bergstein Flynn will closely inspect your title reports to make sure you’re not signing up for any extra baggage. Contact us to discuss your next New York real estate transaction.

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