“Enter as Strangers, Leave as Friends.” That’s the sign hanging in Frank Uzzi’s law office. Licensed in both New York and New Jersey, Frank has the experience and ability to guide his clients as they navigate the complex path of any real estate transaction. With the recent ups and downs of the real estate market, anyone buying or selling this spring needs the help of a “friend” to ensure the transaction goes smoothly, and many turn to Frank for help. His loyal "assistant" Dante has a knack for making friends as well!
For March’s “Home” issue of Pascack Valley City Lifestyle, we asked Frank for some inside advice and tips.
When Does One Need a Real Estate Attorney?
The most common event is purchasing or selling a home or property. If a buyer/seller works with a real estate agent in New Jersey for residential property, the agent will draft the contract and then submit it for attorney review. In lower New York State, parties must have the attorney draw up the contract because the real estate agents are not permitted to do so. If no realtor is involved (such as in a private transaction), the parties must go directly to an attorney to create the agreement. At our firm, we take the time to explain each step and answer all of our client’s questions and concerns before they lock into a contractual agreement. Many times there are details clients may not be aware of. For example, online transactions, such as buying a property through a website or auction, are generally not subject to attorney review or inspections. It is essential to complete your due diligence before making a deal online because you may be bound to their terms unless you have an attorney review it before bidding.
Do You Have Advice for First-Time Homebuyers?
People like to get a good deal, and many will look online for the best rate for title services, home inspections, mortgages, etc. Unfortunately, many companies offer artificially low rates that will inflate throughout the process or provide misleading information, which causes issues later on. It’s in your best interest to use your local community of professionals who work with each other regularly. Our network of local professionals will take the time to walk you through the process and make sure everything is done right.
How Do You Help Seniors Who are Selling or Downsizing?
It’s essential to address a client’s emotional attachment to the home and take the time to understand why they are selling. It may be for a financial necessity, medical situation, or they may just want to downsize. Whatever the reason, we script the contract and the negotiations to be sensitive to those situations. It provides a comfort level for our clients that is invaluable.
We can also help our clients hire other professionals to help them sell, donate, and clean out the possessions they’ve accumulated over the years. Our services often go far beyond “just” the typical legal services because we take the time to get to know each client and their preferences.
What About New Home Construction Transactions?
We work with licensed home builders, general contractors, and their buyers to help translate the builder’s specifications to the buyer and develop the custom contractual agreement required.
Most people don’t realize there is a distinct difference between the terms “new construction” and “renovation.” In New Jersey, only a licensed home builder is authorized to build a “new home” from the ground up, including the foundation, which requires the builder to issue a 10-year warranty. A home rebuilt by a contractor on an existing foundation or including some element of a prior structure is legally considered a “renovation” and does not come with a 10-year warranty.
These contracts get very technical because they include specifications on every detail of the new home, including the moldings, tile, cabinets, doors, windows, and appliances, just to start. We must articulate every specific detail of that home and designate the budget for each option. As one can imagine, complications frequently arise—supply chain delays, variations in color and style, unavailability of selected items, and so on. We create an airtight contract that addresses all of these issues, so builders can sell and be profitable and buyers ultimately purchase the home of their dreams.
What Are Your Final Words of Advice for Anyone Buying or Selling This Spring?
Do your due diligence and work with local professionals. Our firm has years of experience navigating the real estate market and will take the time to inform you and walk you through the process so that even if come to us as a stranger, you will leave the closing table as a “friend.”