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.

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.


hung-jury-deliberation-baldufHaving obtained acquittals on behalf of clients as well as hung juries it is helpful to understand some of the basic jury concepts.


Sometimes a jury becomes hopelessly deadlocked in a criminal case, in which neither side is able to prevail.  Usually this means there is no unanimous verdict.  If the jury is “hung” the trial judge will declare a mistrial.  This is done generally when the jury, after extended deliberation, is unable to change its votes to reach the unanimous verdict required.  A new trial from scratch, with a new jury panel, is required.  The prosecutor or DA can decide not to retry the case, particularly if a majority of the jury favored acquittal.  Most often both the Defense Counsel and DA will attempt to speak with the jurors before they leave to get a feel for the case as they saw it.


A hung jury often brings a Defendant one step closer to being able to walk away from the charges that have been hanging over their head or a plea to a lesser charge with less of a penalty.


Once the judge finishes reading the jury instructions, the case is “given” to the jury who then retire to deliberate.

Usually, any alternate jurors will now be released. Some attorneys like to seek out the alternates and ask their opinions of the case. The jurors are not required to speak to anyone, but some will. Without having the benefit of speaking with the other jurors, however, the alternates’ views are not always the same as the views of the actual jury. Nearly every trial lawyer, it seems, has a few stories of alternates predicting one verdict when the actual result was the opposite.

In New York State, jury verdicts must be unanimous. In other words, all twelve people must agree to the same verdict. If they don’t agree, the case is “hung” and must be retried in front of another jury. Different judges will permit a jury to deliberate for different lengths of time.

Jurors in New York are no longer sequestered (held together in a hotel overnight) in all cases if they don’t reach a verdict by the end of the day. Jurors are sequestered in New York only in serious violent felony cases.

In many cases, the jury will send notes to the judge requesting certain portions of the trial be read back by the Court Reporter, or requesting that the judge reread portions of the jury instructions.

Be sure to hire a true trial attorney with real and recent trial experience when you are facing criminal charges that will forever impact your life.  Call me at William Balduf, Esq. at 315 474-5533.

See also:

How Do I Post Bail?

Legal Tactics for Child Abuse Charges

child-abuse-chargesFor all criminal matters and particularly  child abuse charges the best way to handle them is to anticipate the arguments and proof and try to address them in advance, or at least be prepared at trial.  The following are some common tactics and suggestions for ways of handling sex abuse cases:

Before trial the following can possibly be done to help defend child  abuse cases and charges:

  1. The defendant’s statement indicates he was the subject of sex abuse as a  child:  Investigators routinely elicit this information from defendants, perhaps in an effort to seem sympathetic during the interrogation,  but more likely, to attempt to get that information before a jury, which is likely to believe that someone who has been abused in the past will be an abuser.  The U.S. Government Accountability Office surveyed studies and concluded that there was no conclusive evidence that those abused as children would become abusers as adults.  If you have this inflammatory information in the interrogation, a motion can be made in limine to keep it out.  If it’s deemed relevant a Frye Hearing can be requested arguing that if the science does not support this, the evidence should not come in.  An additional agreement here is that even if it does, it’s probative value is outweighed by its prejudicial effect.
  2. The claim that the child’s school performance deteriorated after the alleged abuse:  This is often given antecdotally by relatives.  But again, there is a study that supports a conclusion that there is no correlation between childhood sexual abuse and poor school performance.
  3. A motion could also be made here to preclude the use of any testimony of declining performance by the child, or ask for a Frye Hearing.
  4. CSAAS as witnesses. A motion can be made to preclude them as a witness/expert.
  5. Youthful indiscretions. Particular attention should be made as to whether the prosecution will try to highlight the many children with many mothers. This can possibly be limited by citing People v. Presha  83 AD3d 1406.

Contact William Balduf, Esq. and let his 30 years of experience work for you.  Serving Syracuse and Oswego, New York.

See also:


What will hiring a lawyer cost me?

What do lawyers charge?lawyer-cost


What will hiring a lawyer cost me?  This is often the first question that people ask when the first question that should be addressed is:  Which lawyer  has tried cases to successful jury and non-jury verdicts?  If the District Attorney handling your matter believes that your lawyer doesn’t like to conduct jury trials you may not get the offers that would best resolve your situation.  The District Attorney’s office may not consider your specific circumstances in the same manner as when represented by an attorney who will take your matter to a trial if necessary.  Not having a trial experienced attorney will decrease your chances of a positive result.  I have successfully negotiated and successfully tried/litigated cases and that matters!

Of course the question still remains:  What will a lawyer cost you?  Don’t be fooled into thinking that the amount of the legal fees directly corresponds to the level of service and experience you will be getting.

Do you have to shell out a lot of money for legal services? Does it have to cost a fortune?

NO.  When it comes to the  cost for an attorney pay a fair price.  You choose.  Don’t trust words, trust actions.


Pay a reasonable price.  Do not look for the cheapest fee.  Do not be talked into the most expensive.  Fair and just representation starts with a fair and just legal fee.  We pride ourselves in offering great legal services for people who need them and that means not overcharging them just because we can.  Call us for a free consultation.

Contact William Balduf, Esq. and let his 30 years of experience work for you.  Serving Syracuse and Oswego, New York.

See related articles:

Do I really need a lawyer for a speeding ticket?

What is Drug Court and Could it Help Me?


drug-courtWhat is Syracuse Drug Court and is it right for me?

I am often asked if I think Syracuse Drug Court is a good idea. My answer is that I think drug court is a great idea for certain clients. Syracuse Community Treatment Court  (SCTC) commonly known as Drug Court oversees delivery of comprehensive addiction treatment services under judicial supervision, thereby reducing drug dependency and recidivism in the nonviolent offender and returning him/her to the community as a productive citizen.

The Syracuse Drug Court is supervised by Chief Judge of the Syracuse City Court Hon. James H. Cecile. The judge takes an active interest in all aspects of participants’ lives and supervises their treatment for substance abuse, as well as their receipt of support services. Services include treatment, assistance with education, vocational training, housing, employment and counseling.

Defendants are required to appear regularly before the court for supervision, and emergency hearings for non compliant participants and those in danger of relapse are handled on a case-by-case basis. Treatment and community resource agencies will report to the judge each time before a defendant appears in court. Sanctions for non-compliant behavior can include an increase in court appearances and drug testing, a change in level or modality of treatment, and incarceration.

Drug Court looks to assist the whole person not just through substance abuse treatment but also education, and job training as well.

Eligible defendants must:

  1. Be charged with a non-violent felony or misdemeanor in the County of Onondaga;
  2. Be determined by the SCTC to be in need of treatment for a substance abuse/ addiction problems;
  3. Have no prior convictions for violent felony offenses.

Typically, if a person is successful, misdemeanor charges are dismissed. Successful participants who are facing felony charges will have their charges reduced to the underlying misdemeanor and receive a 1 year conditional discharge.

See also:

What will hiring a lawyer cost me?

Do I really need a lawyer for a speeding ticket?

This is a question frequently asked.  Isn’t just easier and more cost effectivelawyer-for-speeding-ticket to mail the speeding ticket in, pay the fine and go on with my life?  I was just speeding after all.  I’m not exactly a criminal!  At first glance that may be so, but the reality is that one may find that having a lawyer to handle their traffic tickets may actually save them more money and time than the fees cost them.

Your time has a certain value to it. Often when hiring an attorney, a client may not even have to appear personally in court.  Your lawyer can appear for you, negotiate for reductions or dismissals, and speak with the DA on your behalf.   If you do need to appear in court, those with an attorney have their cases called first, saving you from a long wait in the courtroom.  If you have ever spent several hours in traffic court, you surely will appreciate that!

Often times, with the reduction of the charges comes reduced fines.  In addition in New York State, the number of points against your drivers’ license may cause increased auto insurance premiums.  The money you spend for a lawyer to defend you regarding your traffic matter is well worth the investment when you consider time, fines and cheaper insurance rates.

Call us at 315 474-5533 or contact us online.  Reasonable rates. Serving Onondaga, Oswego and Madison Counties.

See also:

DWI-Traffic Offenses

Should I Take A Breathalyzer Test?

Should I Take A Breathalyzer Test?

should-i-take-a-breathalyzerDo I have to take a breathalyzer test if the police ask me to? Most folks know that they have a right to refuse this test, and that is true. Many people are under the impression that refusing a breathalyzer test if they have been pulled over is a good move. In many cases this is NOT a good move.  This is why you need to get good and experienced advice.

Lets clarify something first.  There are two breath tests you will likely be subjected to if suspected of driving while under the influence of alcohol.  The first test is the roadside test.  The second is the test done at the police station after being arrested.

The first roadside test should only be administered by the police if there are other indicators of DWI – such as a valid traffic stop, followed by possible odor, and standard field sobriety tests.  THIS ROADSIDE TEST IS NOT ADMISSIBLE AT TRIAL.  Should you take it?  Most likely the answer is yes. Regardless of the result, it will most likely not affect your case.

If you are arrested and brought down to the station for booking, you should be asked to blow into a calibrated machine.  This test is admissible and will be used to produce the actual amount of alcohol in your blood.  Should you take this test?  It depends.  How much have you drank (if anything)?  When did you take your last drink?  Have you been convicted or plead to any previous DUI or DWI charges?  These are some of the factors that come into play when making a decision.

You should know that refusing to take a breathalyzer test may result in an administrative suspension of your license by the NYS DMV for one year. This administrative suspension will prevent you from obtaining a hardship license while your case is pending in court and may result in an additional suspension of your license by the DMV beyond any suspension imposed by the court. You must think very carefully before refusing a breathalyzer test.

If you have refused a breathalyzer test, or been charged with DWI, don’t wait to get good advice. Contact William Balduf, Esq. and let his 30 years of experience work for you.  Serving Syracuse and Oswego, New York.

See also:

DWI-Traffic Charges

What will hiring a lawyer cost me?