Real Estate Law

Real Estate Law

Binghamton Area Real Estate Law Attorneys: Discover the Coughlin & Gerhart Difference

In few areas can the counsel of an experienced lawyer provide greater protection and assistance on complex issues than in the high-stakes area of real estate. Whether a family is purchasing its first home, or a commercial developer is seeking approval of a multimillion-dollar project, the attorney you choose can make the difference between a streamlined successful process and disappointment.

Coughlin & Gerhart maintains an active, diverse real estate law practice, dedicated to guiding and protecting residential and commercial clients through real estate transactions with punctuality, access, and efficiency. We also provide litigation services to clients involved in land-related disputes. Our attorneys possess decades of combined transactional and litigation experience, and combine this experience with a client-focused approach that emphasizes frequent interaction.

Dynamic Counsel for Residential and Commercial Clients in New York’s Southern Tier and Northern Pennsylvania

Coughlin & Gerhart offers a wide range of services to residential and commercial real estate clients in New York’s Southern Tier and Pennsylvania’s Northern Tier. We have seven offices and, therefore, can provide our clients with easier and better access to our experienced lawyers. Our services range from very complex real estate transactions to the more basic, including:

  • Abstracts of Title (preparation & examination)
  • Deed Restrictions
  • Land Transfers
  • Negotiation of Contracts
  • Purchases, Sales, & Leases (commercial & residential)
  • Real Estate Closings and post-Closing Protection matters
  • Title Insurance* (for lenders & owners)
  • Bank and other Lender Financing
  • Foreclosures
  • Mortgages
  • Real Estate Tax Assessment Issues
  • Boundary Line Agreements and Partitions
  • Easements, Licenses, and Restrictive Covenants
  • Real Estate Development
  • Zoning & Land Use issues
  • Litigation of Real Estate Disputes, including landlord-tenant, boundary line, sales contract, title, unresolved lien issues, breach of contract, and all kinds of real estate disputes are often handled jointly by our Litigation and Real Estate Practice Groups.

Our firm has been assisting sellers, buyers, developers, investors, lenders, municipalities, and other interests in the full range of real estate transactions that take place throughout the Southern Tier region of New York for over one hundred years.

We regularly counsel clients who desire to form limited liability companies and other entities for real estate ventures and financing, including advice on the business and tax implications of such entities, the mechanics of their formation and operations, and the maintenance of proper records for such entities. Our attorneys also regularly advise lenders and borrowers in finance transactions secured by mortgages on both residential and commercial real estate. We also have experience in all issues relevant to commercial real estate finance. No matter what your real estate needs may be, we look forward to the opportunity to assist you.

Real Estate Law FAQ

Why should I use a real estate lawyer near me?

Using a local real estate lawyer such as Coughlin & Gerhart offers many benefits. Our office possesses specific knowledge of property laws, regulations, and market trends in New York and Pennsylvania. Our office has eight (8) locations across New York’s Southern Tier and Pennsylvania’s Northern Tier to serve our clients. In Upstate New York real estate transactions there are local customs and practices that can vary slightly across county boundaries, having an Attorney who is familiar with these practices can help ensure a smoother transaction. Additionally, using a real estate lawyer who nearby can facilitate easier communication, enabling timely updates and the ability to address any concerns you may have promptly.

What are the legal requirements for transferring property ownership in New York?

There are a number of ways to transfer property in New York State. However, there are a few legal steps that must occur in order to protect the new owner. In order for a transfer to be valid, a written deed must be executed by the current owner (grantor) transferring the ownership to the intended recipient (grantee). The deed should accurately describe the property and outline the terms of transfer. This document must then be acknowledged before a notary public. 

Once the deed is prepared, it will be filed with the County Clerk’s office where the property is located. Recording the deed in the County Clerk’s Office is essential to make the transfer publicly recorded and legally effective.  

To finalize the transfer, the parties will need to file with the deed a transfer tax form and an equalization and assessment form (or RP-5217). If the property being transferred is a unique form of real property, such as a cooperative apartment, additional requirements may apply, such as obtaining consent from the cooperative corporation. 

In New York, it’s also common to conduct a title search and obtain title insurance to ensure there are no liens or encumbrances against the property the buyer may need to be aware of and identify any potential issues. 


It’s highly recommended to engage a qualified real estate attorney to navigate these requirements. Hiring a qualified attorney who practices real estate law can help ensure a smooth and legally compliant property transfer process in New York. Coughlin & Gerhart can assist clients with buying or selling property in both New York and Pennsylvania. 

What is the role of a title search in a real estate transaction in New York?

In a New York real estate transaction, a title search is a crucial step to determine the property’s ownership history and legal status. Abstracts of title are commonly required in real estate contracts. These abstracts of title show a comprehensive review of public records impacting the subject property and will uncover any existing liens, encumbrances, or claims that could affect the property’s title. A real estate attorney reviews this abstract of title with the primary goal of ensuring that the seller has clear and marketable ownership rights, enabling a smooth transfer to the buyer. 


A title search helps identify potential issues like outstanding mortgages, unpaid taxes, judgments, or other legal disputes that might cloud the property’s title. By revealing these issues early on, both parties can address them before the transaction is finalized, either by resolving the problems or negotiating appropriate adjustments to the purchase agreement. Ultimately, a thorough title search helps protect the buyer’s investment and provides confidence that the property’s ownership is free from undisclosed encumbrances, promoting a transparent and secure real estate transaction in New York. 

Should I get title insurance when buying real estate in New York?

Yes, obtaining title insurance when purchasing real estate in New York is highly recommended. Title insurance provides crucial protection against potential legal claims or issues that may arise after the property purchase. Despite a thorough title search, there can be hidden defects or undiscovered liens that could threaten your ownership rights. 

Title insurance offers financial coverage for legal expenses and potential losses related to any undiscovered title defects. It safeguards your investment and ensures that you have a clear and marketable title. While optional for the buyer, most lenders typically require a lender’s title insurance policy to secure their interests, and it’s prudent for buyers to consider an owner’s title insurance policy as well. The relatively small one-time premium can save you from substantial financial and legal troubles in the future, providing peace of mind and a secure foundation for your real estate investment in New York. 

What are some common issues that arise during a real estate closing in Upstate New York?

During a real estate closing in Upstate New York, several common issues can arise that may need to be addressed before the transaction is finalized. These include: 

Title Issues: Unresolved liens, judgments, or disputes over property ownership can emerge during the final title search, potentially delaying the closing. 

Property Condition: If the property inspection reveals significant defects or needed repairs, negotiations may be necessary to determine who will address these issues before closing. 

Financing Delays: If the buyer’s mortgage financing encounters unexpected challenges or delays, it can postpone the closing date. 

Contractual Disputes: Disagreements over contract terms, such as repairs or personal property inclusions, could lead to closing delays. 

Permit or Zoning Issues: Problems with permits, zoning compliance, or property use can require resolution before closing. 

Survey or Boundary Discrepancies: If the property boundaries or survey are not accurate, it may necessitate resolving these discrepancies before closing. 

Unforeseen Title Claims: New title claims or issues discovered after the initial title search might arise, requiring further investigation and resolution. 

Outstanding Taxes: Unpaid property taxes or assessments may need to be settled before the transaction can proceed. 

Seller’s Financial Obligations: Outstanding debts, mortgages, or judgments against the seller may need to be addressed before the property can be transferred. 

We recommend working with an attorney who has experience in handling real estate transactions in order to help ensure a smooth closing process. At Coughlin & Gerhart, we have a number of attorneys who have experience assisting clients in identifying and resolving these issues promptly, ensuring a successful and smooth real estate closing. 

*Coughlin & Gerhart, LLP currently utilizes Chicago Title Insurance Company as its title insurance underwriter.  To view current title insurance rates, please visit

Contact Coughlin & Gerhart

We can determine how to best help you with your legal matter during a confidential consultation. To arrange to speak with one of our experienced real estate attorneys, call our Binghamton headquarters at (607) 821-2202, toll free 800-646-3420, or send us an email.