Buying or Selling Homes


Buying or selling homes will probably be the largest and most significant purchase you will make in your life. It also involves the law of real property, which is unique and raises special issues of practice, and problems not present in other transactions. A real estate lawyer is trained and experienced to deal with these problems.

Buying or Selling Home

In the typical home purchase, the seller enters into a brokerage contract with a real estate agent, usually in writing. The process may seem simple on it’s face, but without a lawyer, the consequences may be more disastrous than purchasing a car that turns out to be a lemon, or a stock investment that was unwise.

When Buying or Selling Home Avoid Vague or Unclear Terms

A lawyer can help you avoid some common problems with a home purchase or sale. For example, a seller may sign a brokerage agreement that does not deal with a number of legal problems. This happens quite often; realtors often use standard forms, expecting that they will cover all circumstances or will be easily customizable for unusual circumstances.

When buying or selling homes in the absence of an agreement to the contrary, the seller may become liable to pay a brokerage commission even if a sale does not occur, or to pay more than one brokerage commission.  A lawyer can explain the effect of multiple listings. He or she can negotiate the realtor’s rights if the seller withdraws the property from the market, or can’t deliver good marketable title.

The seller should have the advice and guidance of an attorney with respect to a brokerage agreement. Even if the agreement is a standard form, its terms should be explained to the seller and revised, if necessary. An attorney should also determine if the agreement was properly signed.

Tax Consequences 

Even if a lawyer is not needed during the course of negotiations, when buying and selling homes, the buyer and seller each may have to consult with a lawyer to answer important questions, such as the tax consequences of the transaction. To a seller, the tax consequences may be of critical importance. For example, the income tax consequences of a sale, particularly if the seller makes a large profit, may be considerable. An attorney can advise whether the seller can take advantage of tax provisions allowing for exclusion of capital gains in certain circumstances.

Purchase Agreements

The purchase agreement is the single most important document in the transaction. Although standard printed forms are useful, a lawyer is helpful in explaining the form and making changes and additions to reflect the buyer’s and the seller’s desires.

There are many issues that may need to be addressed in the purchase agreement; below are some common examples:

If the property has been altered or there has been an addition to the property, was it done lawfully?

If the buyer has plans to change the property, may what is planned for the property be done lawfully?

What happens if a buyer has an engineer or architect inspect the property and termites, asbestos, radon, or lead-based paint is found?

What if the property is found to contain hazardous waste?

What are the legal consequences if the closing does not take place, and what happens to the down payment? This question raises related questions: Will the down payment be held in escrow by a lawyer in accordance with appropriately worded escrow instructions? How is payment to be made? Is the closing appropriately conditioned upon the buyer obtaining financing?

Most buyers finance a substantial portion of the purchase price for a home with a mortgage loan from a lending institution. The purchase agreement should contain a carefully worded provision that it is subject to the buyer’s obtaining a commitment for financing.

Title Search

After the purchase agreement is signed, it is necessary to establish the state of the seller’s title to the property to the buyer’s – and the finance institution’s – satisfaction. Generally a title search is ordered from an abstract or title insurance company.  An attorney can help review the title search and explain the title exceptions as to what is not insured, and determine whether the legal description is correct and whether there are problems with adjoining owners or prior owners. He or she can also explain the effect of easements and agreements or restrictions imposed by a prior owner, and whether there are any legal restrictions which will impair your ability to sell the property.

The title search does not tell the buyer or seller anything about existing and prospective zoning. A lawyer can explain whether zoning prohibits a two-family home, or whether planned improvements violate zoning ordinances.

The Closing

The closing is the most important event in the purchase and sale transaction. The deed and other closing papers must be prepared.  A closing statement should be prepared prior to the closing indicating the debits and credits to the buyer and seller. An attorney is helpful in explaining the nature, amount, and fairness of closing costs. The deed and mortgage instruments are signed, and an attorney can be assure that these documents are appropriately executed and explained to the various parties.

The closing process can be confusing and complex to the buyer and seller. Those present at the closing often include the buyer and seller, their respective attorneys, the title closer (representative of the title company), an attorney for any lending institution, and the real estate broker. There may also be last minute disputes about delivering possession and personal property or the adjustment of various costs, such as fuel and taxes. If you are the only person there without a lawyer, your rights may be at risk.

Get a Free Initial Case Assessment

A broker generally serves the seller, and the lender is obtained by the buyer. Both want to see the deal go through, since that is how they will get paid. Neither can provide legal counsel. Contact a local attorney for a free initial case assessment to insure that you have someone in your corner during this important and complex process.

Right to Remain Silent-Use it!

baldufYou might be surprised to learn that students whose mother or father is a police officer or prosecutor when asked:  What would you tell your child about dealing with the police? The response is “Never talk to the police, or agree to let them interview you about anything, or let them search your car or apartment or backpack without a warrant.

You need to stop for a minute, and let that sink in.

The Right to Remain Silent.  You may know the famous “right to remain silent” protected by the Fifth Amendment however do you really understand that the protections of that right are for the innocent people as much as the guilty.  Too many people mistakenly assume that someone who remains silent must have “something to hide” or be guilty of something.  This is simply not true!

All over this country, prison cells are filled with innocent people falsely convicted for crimes they did not commit

Far too many Americans mistakenly think: “If the police want to ask me a few questions, and I know in my heart I have done nothing wrong, surely it cannot hurt to cooperate with them and do whatever I can to allay their suspicions and clear things up.” That attitude is certainly understandable, but it can be a deadly mistake, and it can land you in prison for a crime you did not commit, perhaps for the rest of your life.


What is inciting a riot in NY?

Ten people face charges in Syracuse, NY for inciting a riot in connection with the Father’s Day shootings in Skiddy Park on balduf-inciting-a-riot-attorneythe West Side. This uncommonly used charge of the Penal Law prompts several questions; What exactly is inciting a riot? Is this charge considered a felony or misdemeanor? What can these defendants expect going forward?

 According to NY Penal Law Article 240.08 Inciting to riot;  A person is guilty of inciting to riot when he urges ten or more persons to engage in tumultuous and violent conduct of a kind likely to create public alarm. Inciting to riot is a class A misdemeanor. Inciting a riot may be punishable by up to one year in jail.  Inciting a riot belongs to a group of charges commonly known as Conduct Against Public Order.

 When dealing with a defendant charged with this particular crime, there are many aspects to consider.  It is imperative that if you are charged with inciting a riot, you seek legal representation that will take the time to listen to your accounting of the events that took place, will examine the case’s merits thoroughly, and  is willing to make any applicable motions in an effort to receive the best possible outcome for your matter.

 If you have been charged with a crime or the police want to interview you in relation to a crime, you need an experienced attorney immediately.  Call me, I offer a free consultation 315-474-5533See related articles:

When should I talk to police?

balduf-lawyer-talk-to-policeMany of our clients do not expect to be arrested or have a run in with the law.  In times like this many people want to tell “their side of the story” in an attempt to get the police to understand and release them.  It’s understandable, however ill advised.  The police are not there to help you and in many instances will coax you into talking so you can set the record straight.  Understand this, the police are not there to help you.  The job of the police is to get a confession during your interview, even if that means they must lie to you.  Additionally, they will often tell you that they cannot help you once you have contacted an attorney. It is not in your best interest to talk to police at any time without legal counsel.

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What is considered a “hate crime”?

balduf-criminal-lawyer-hate-crimeA Hate Crime occurs whenever an individual commits a crime against another individual, property or group as a result of his or her alleged bias or hatred towards the apparent race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability, gender identity or any other characteristic represented by that individual, property or group.

Many charges can be considered a hate crime if the prosecution can also prove that evidence of bias exists.  Physical assault, bullying, rape, harassment, reckless endangerment, criminal trespassing, vandalism, robbery and murder all become more serious charges when a hate crime is charged, and as a result the sentences are more severe upon a conviction.

Having an experienced attorney on your side to help you prove that the crime at issue was not motivated by bias will be crucial to the outcome of your case.  To achieve the best possible result, look for an attorney with extensive trial and evidence experience that is familiar with the jurisdiction you are charged in, and can make proper motions if necessary for you to achieve the best possible result.

Being charged with a hate crime is considered a violent felony offense and carries stiff minimum sentencing guidelines.  If you or someone you know has been charged with a hate crime, do not wait to get competent and experienced legal representation.  I have over 35 years of criminal defense experience and offer a free consultation. Call me. 315-474-55-33

What should I do if I’ve been accused of rape?

balduf-criminal-attorney“I am being accused of rape.”

The mere accusation of rape alone, regardless of its authenticity or a conviction could damage your entire personal and professional life. Rape is a felony, and conviction of rape in the State of New York can lead to 18 months to 25 years in State prison, along with being placed on the sex offenders registry, significant fines, loss of employment, and the ability to obtain certain types of employment or professional licenses.  If you are accused of rape, you are facing serious legal trouble and need an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. It is important that you do not answer any questions or give any information to law enforcement without having your attorney present to protect your rights.  In charges of rape you will need an aggressive attorney on your side to fight for you, even if you are completely innocent.

Call me immediately.  I will review and analyze the case against you,  listen to your side of the story and plan a legal strategy that is in your best interests.  Remember the police and law enforcement are not on your side and they do not want to help you.  Their job is to charge you and convict you.  You need someone to be on your side.  If you are in Onondaga, Madison, Cayuga, or Oswego County have been accused of rape or any sex related crime, call me immediately.  I offer a free consultation. 315-474-5533

Social Media Evidence

Social Media Evidencebalduf_experienced_criminal_attorney

What you say can and will be used against you.  We’ve all heard that phrase, and yet when it comes to social media, most forget that and, shall we say- overshare at times. Now-a-days everyone wants to share with their family and friends every aspect of their lives, Facebook, Instagram, Pintrest and Twitter dominate people’s smart phone and attention while they post sayings, pictures and memes of where they are going what they are doing, and even what they are eating.  What most don’t realize is that its not only their friends and family that can see these posts, it’s the police, and the District Attorney’s Office as well, even if you think your posts are “private”.  These posts risk becoming social media evidence.

Now even if you don’t go posting pictures of crimes you committed (sounds crazy but its happened), your social media posts can be used to establish motive, or corroborate a theory of propensity.  Posting a picture of yourself flashing “gang signs” could be used to demonstrate a connection to a particular gang, a posting about a night out partying with your friends immediately before a DWI charge, or negative post about what a horrible person your ex is right before their tires are slashed, all can be brought into light to help strengthen the State’s case or as evidence against you in criminal charges.

Judges are supposed to consider whether evidence is authentic, reliable and relevant, but social media posts by the defendant themselves are often viewed as almost a confession of sorts and judges tend to admit all posts if they admit one.

If your own words are being used against you, you absolutely need an attorney on your side that is familiar with suppression and evidence rules and is a seasoned trial attorney.  If you have been charged with a crime in the County of Onondaga, and are unsure of what will come next or have questions about evidence, call me. I  offer a free initial consultation 315-474-5533, or make an appointment online HERE.

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My child was charged with a crime, what can I do?

What is Drug Court and Could it Help Me?

My child was charged with a crime, what can I do? difficult point in any parent’s experience is to learn that their child was charged with a crime. Many parents are shocked to find themselves in this position and are unsure what to do or even how they can help. There are a few things to do when a crime is first charged.

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Should I take a plea?

My lawyer wants me to take a plea, should I?balduf-syracuse-criminal-lawyer

I sometimes get calls from a defendant that is being advised by their current attorney to “take a plea”.  A plea is when a defendant agrees to enter a guilty plea without a trial in exchange for a lesser charge. They want to know if I think its a good idea. The answer is always- it depends. There are many different elements to consider when advising a defendant to take a plea. An experienced attorney will review all elements of your case from the initial police encounter, through the arrest, as well as examine evidence and make appropriate motions before negotiating with the District Attorney’s office with regard to a plea bargain. It is always a defendants right to a fair trial.

Only after meeting with a defendant and reviewing all the facts of the case can an attorney get a good sense if they feel that a plea is in the best interest of their client. Only after a thorough review of a case can an attorney make such determinations and be able to explain the options and risks of going to trial. Only an experienced criminal trial attorney can give you a realistic idea of what a trial entails and what the risks are to going to trial. If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime in Onondaga County and are unsure if a plea option is the best decision, call me. I will review your case for free, advise you of your rights to your own attorney. I have years of successful criminal trial experience in which to help you determine if a trial or a plea is the best possible route for your particular case.

If you have been charged with a crime, and are considering a plea in Onondaga County, call me immediately at (315) 474-5533.  I offer a free consultation to review all the facts and circumstances of your matter so that I can best advise you proceeding forward.

Family Offense Crimes

Family offense crimes


Family offense crimes are very serious charges. Family crimes may include things like charges of domestic violence, abuse, child abuse, sex abuse, endangering the welfare of a child, along with Child Protective Services allegations. The outcome of these matters not only affect your freedom and criminal record but they may also affect your ability to see and spend time with your children, return to your home if there is an order of protection in place, and have extensive consequences to your job and home.

Family offenses should only be handled by attorneys experienced in both family and criminal court. Only attorneys with this type of interwoven legal experience can best advise you of how your matter should be handled for the best possible outcome in your case. Often times, these cases are transferred to “IDV Court” Integrated Domestic Violence Court. In this court, criminal and family matters are heard in the same Court, often by the same judge. It is imperative that you hire a lawyer to represent you that is familiar and comfortable in the IDV Court system.

When charged with a family offense, experienced legal help should be sought immediately, before you are interviewed by a State agency or law enforcement, or as soon into the matter as practicable. The earlier that you involve an experienced attorney in your matter, the better the chance for the best possible outcome in your case.

If you have been charged with a family offense or child protective matter, or have been interviewed regarding a pending family offense matter in Onondaga County, call me immediately at (315) 474-5533. I offer a free consultation to review all the facts and circumstances of your matter so that I can best advise you proceeding forward.