Step 18 to Selling Your Home: Attorney Review Period in New Jersey

April 25, 2024

Step 18 to Selling Your Home: Attorney Review Period in New Jersey

In the state of NJ, the attorney review period begins the day after the contract has been signed by all parties and will continue for 3 business days. In the state of PA, there is no attorney review period.

During attorney review, you have a right to have a real estate attorney review the contract and create a list of changes he/she wants made to the contract. Most often, the buyer’s attorney initiates the lists of changes and circulates it to the seller side. Attorneys always ask for changes, whether it’s taking out time is of the essence to adding additional language to protect you. The attorney may also change where the earnest money is being held or where closing will take place. This can be another phase of negotiation, but not on price. Negotiation on the terms of the contract. Buyer and seller side will go back and forth on the contract changes until an agreement can be reached. In rare instances, an agreement cannot be reached and the contract is voided.

If neither side (buyer or seller) has retained an attorney, then the 3 business days move forward with no back and forth. As a heads up, offers can still be presented during this time and showings can continue if you, as the seller, would still like to show the home while ‘active under contract’. Either party may also retain an attorney to void the contract without any reason during attorney review. 

If you live in a condo building the attorney will also request the condo documents from your building’s property manager or HOA president.  Don’t be surprised if you have to pay a fee for these documents. The fees can range from $300 – $600. In addition, the attorney will need to request a Paid Assessment Letter (PAL) from your building showing you are current on all HOA fees/special assessments.  Again, there may be a fee you have to pay before your building will release this letter. If so, you have to pay the fee as we need that letter to be able to close. In the meantime, it is best that you locate and provide a copy of your rules and regulations and any financials you may have received from your HOA.

In addition, before closing the attorney often will:

  • Assist with the negotiation of any inspection issues
  • Help you further understand the contract and makes sure your interests are protected
  • Make sure the title is clear
  • File extension requests (attorney review, etc.) as needed
  • Work with the buyer’s lender to ensure a timely loan commitment
  • Closely review the settlement statement (HUD) including any taxes owed, adjustments, closing cost credits, etc. prior to closing
  • Prepare all legal documents
  • Schedule the closing

The above list is IF everything goes perfectly. If it doesn’t and the contract needs to be canceled, earnest money needs to be refunded, etc. the attorney will handle these items as well.  This is why it’s crucial to have a good Real Estate attorney as part of your team. *Make sure the attorney you choose specializes in real estate law.

If you choose to not have an attorney represent you, as your REALTOR®, we cover handling the above. Of course, we don’t prepare legal documents, but we work with the title company to have your deed package prepared by an attorney. We DO NOT and CANNOT interpret law or act as an attorney. Unfortunately, no one on the current team possesses a degree in law (JD) 🙂

If you would like to have an attorney, we do have a recommended attorney list we can provide to you. You can do your research. We definitely recommend reaching out by phone or email, schedule a short conversation via phone, ask about their fees and what is covered (make sure all of the above is included). You can see who responds the quickest and which one you like the most.  Once you’ve picked an attorney, please let us know.

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