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We live in Australia and we bought a new apartment in the US(NYC). We already paid 30% of the apartment price and for the closing we need to pay 70%. Our US lawyer told us that we should transfer the funds to his trust account and he will be the one that will distribute the funds to the seller(the sponsor). He will also be the one that will distribute the funds to taxes etc.

Our local lawyer in Australia (that is not highly proficient in US law or US real estate) said that he is a bit scared and that we should transfer the funds to the trust account of the seller and not to our lawyer. We discussed this with our US lawyer and of course he said that we should trust him and that he will not run away with our money and lose his license. He also said that :

  1. If the sellers were paying off a mortgage, for example, he(our us lawyer) would need to provide certified checks for the closing.

  2. If something happens at the closing and we wind up not closing or it gets postponed, then the seller is sitting there with our money and we have no deed to show for it.

What should we do? Should we transfer the funds to our US attorney or insist to transfer it to the Seller account?

  • How did you find your lawyer? Have you looked up your lawyer in the state's directory? I don't frankly remember to whom my check was payable when I bought my apartment, but I think it was the lawyer's escrow account. He gave me a figure and I gave him the check. The figure was not just the remainder due on the apartment, and not all of the money due even went to the seller; some of it went directly to the seller's lender, and there were other fees and taxes to be paid, etc. The lawyer's managing that is part of the service. – phoog Dec 23 '19 at 14:38
  • Worth asking: Is the amount you pay high enough that a lawyer would risk his career and going to jail to get their hands on the money? If it's several millions, quite possibly yes. A few hundred thousand? No, your lawyer wouldn't be so stupid to run away with the money. – gnasher729 Dec 24 '19 at 16:44

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