Abraham Krieger Authors Real Estate Q&A for Long Island Herald

Krieger_AbeQ: A friend, who lives out-of-state, is buying a residential property in the Hamptons, Long Island and she and the seller want to use a single attorney for the transaction rather than a buyer’s attorney and a seller’s attorney. I understand that this is possible in other states such as D.C., but wanted to know if it can be done in New York?

A: As an experienced real estate attorney here in New York, I would not recommend it. There are some states which are “escrow” states where a single person or entity serves as escrowee administratively. It is by no means the way it is done in New York and downstate.  Especially on the buying side, where it is very important for the prospective buyer to have  ‘independent’ counsel who can in turn engage independent home inspection services, so that the legal and inspection work and advice are done as rigorously and thoroughly as possible.  For the most part, representing ‘opposing’ sides in a transaction is strongly discouraged by the New York Bar and without exhaustive disclosure to both parties, not permitted under the Code of Professional Responsibility.

Presumably, the amount of money involved is considerable, whatever that means under the particular circumstances. The buyer wants to do everything reasonably possible to protect the investment after responsible investigatory efforts.