What Types of Legal Contracts Are Used When Buying a House in New York?

No matter where you buy a piece of property, one thing is certain - you’ll have to sign a few contracts. In New York, legal contracts are serious business. So serious, it’s common practice to hire a real estate attorney to negotiate and execute the contract for purchase. But that’s just one legal document that’s needed to buy a house in New York. 

Here’s a rundown of all the most common paperwork that has to be signed to complete a New York home sale.

Types of Legal Contracts in Buying a House in New York

Offer Form

This isn’t a legally binding form, but it is used during the home buying process. In fact, sending the seller an offer form (also known as an offer purchase form) is the first step in buying a home. The offer form is a single page supplied by the listing broker. It specifies the price the buyer is willing to pay along with other pertinent details like the property address and names of both parties.

Another important part of the offer form is the conditions. The buyer will note:

  • The mortgage terms

  • Whether a termite inspection will be done

  • Whether an engineer’s inspection will be done

  • Any personal property to be included with the sale

Although this isn’t a legally binding contract it does lay the groundwork for what will be included in the purchase contract.

Real Estate Purchase Contract/Contract of Sale

This is the key contract in a real estate purchase. A real estate attorney (usually for the buyer) draws up the real estate purchase contract, also referred to as a contract of sale, once an offer is accepted. Attorneys for the buyer and seller hash out the specifics before finalizing the purchase contract and getting signatures.

All of the terms of the sale are spelled out in the purchase contract. It notes the:

  • Legal description of the property

  • Agreed upon price

  • Method of payment

  • Date for closing

  • Contingencies

Once the contract of sale is signed by both parties you’re “in contract”. This means the agreement is legally binding and neither party can simply walk away without being in breach of contract.


Sellers have to be forthright with information when they’re selling a home in New York. They provide buyers with information via disclosures. These are legal documents that outline the condition of the home, known defects, etc. Some of the most common disclosures include:

  • Lead Paint Disclosure Form for Housing Sales

  • Property Condition Disclosure Statement

  • New York State Disclosure Form - Buyer and Seller

Disclosures are legally required by the Property Condition Disclosure Act. Sellers of one-to-four family dwellings must deliver disclosures to the buyer before the final purchase contract is signed or they can face a $500 credit to the buyer at closing. However, buyers have to keep in mind that sellers aren’t obligated to hire an inspector to uncover potential problems.

Addendum to the Purchase Contract

If changes need to be made to the purchase contract or a condition needs to be added an Addendum is used. This is usually a one-page form that notes what the change is and must be signed by both parties. 


Affidavits are typically used by the title company to acknowledge property boundaries and the existence or absence of liens against the property that’s for sale. Each title company will create their own affidavits, but the affidavits that are most commonly used include a survey affidavit, judgment affidavit, fence and boundary affidavit and affidavit of title. 

The legal contracts above are typically part of every home purchase in New York, but there will be other documents involved depending on the financing that’s being used, the type of property that’s being purchased and whether or not tenants currently occupy the home. It’s extremely important for New York real estate agents to stay on top of what contracts are legally required and discuss contract requirements with clients before signing anything.

Audrey Ference

Want to know more about being a real estate agent?