Four walls. A bath. A kitchen. A yard. A family. Call it home, sweet home, and stake your claim in the American Dream.

Now add a few more walls, two or three floors, two or three more baths, a front yard and a very big backyard with a pool. That's a more accurate picture of the American Dream, circa 2021.

From the moment you move in and are eating take-out food on the floor, surrounded by boxes, to watching your kids grow up to becoming empty-nesters and handing the keys to the new owners, your house, your home, your crib, your dwelling — call it what you want — is truly, above all, your investment.

And what an investment it is.

According to the National Association of Realtors, the average sale price of a home in the U.S. in 2018 was $298,200. For the Northeast, that figure was $322,900, and the numbers have been rising ever since. For 2020, as the pandemic raged, those numbers were, respectively, $331,900 and $359,300.

The COVID-19 pandemic was a game-changer as far as the U.S. real estate market was concerned. According to, "The widespread shift to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic prompted many to reevaluate their housing options and supercharged demand."

The purchase of a house, new or otherwise, is without qualification one of the biggest decisions you will make in your life. It will shape your finances, your family, your outlook on life. By providing the place from which everything you do emanates, your house will inform every decision you make.

So why wouldn't you hire the most seasoned, experienced, enduring and time-tested legal firm to oversee the ins and outs of all the contracts, the banks, the inspection, appraisal, and, finally, the closing? And let's not forget that very big mortgage. Phillips & Millman stands ready to assist you — buyers and sellers alike — in making one of the most important decisions of your life.

"Dealing with lenders during a real estate closing is a daunting task." reads, the firm's website. "Phillips & Millman makes sure its clients are on a level playing field with their mortgage provider and that no surprises arise during the closing process. When necessary, we conduct title reviews to ensure that there are no ownership or boundary disputes associated with the property being purchased. Whether the property is a single-family home, condo, co-op, or a commercial building, Phillips & Millman has the expertise to help you efficiently manage, buy and sell. And if a dispute arises and a transaction results in legal action, our experienced real estate experts and litigators will protect your rights and interests throughout the proceedings."

And make no mistake, disputes, as well as all kinds of twists, turns, and bumps in the road can emerge. Let's first focus on the home buyer, with a list of red flags  from Michael Yardney's Property Update:


  • Failing to conduct proper research and preparation.
  • Choosing the wrong mortgage option.
  • Making decisions based on the property market.
  • Overextending yourself on a budget.
  • Losing your poker face. Don't let the seller's team know how much you love a house. Don't let your emotions dictate how this transaction unfolds.
  • Don't focus solely on the price.
  • Make sure your protection clauses are in place and firm.
  • Don't underestimate all of the costs linked to buying a home, beyond the price of the actual structure.
  • Don't buy a home out of desperation, even if your search is dragging on.


And now for the seller, from


  • Find a solid, dependable and reputable real estate agent.
  • Remember many folks judge a book by its cover, so make those small fixes and spruce the place up.
  • Declutter all corners of the inside, from the attic to the basement and everywhere in between. Also, make sure to mop, dust, wipe — and repeat.
  • Touch up scuff marks. Tighten loose handles. Conduct a smell test.


     According to Zillow, the U.S. Housing Market Gained More Value in 2020 than in any year Since 2005. Zillow also reported that:

  • The full U.S. housing stock gained about $2.5 trillion in value last year, including $2.2 trillion from the appreciation of existing homes, and $274 billion from new construction. 
  • 2021 was a remarkably strong year for housing, and 2021 is likely to be stronger. 
  • The total, combined value of all homes nationwide rose in 2020 to a whopping $36.2 trillion. 

But all of this holds little meaning if you, as buyer or seller, don't have someone in your corner, keeping a watchful eye on the many details that can insure or sink a deal. Phillips & Millman stands ready to help you navigate this overwhelming process that, approached in the correct manner, with diligence and experience, can lay the foundation for a very happy life.

"Phillips & Millman provides a full array of commercial and real estate legal services, ranging from sales contracts, refinancings, leases and closings to planning and zoning consultation," reads the firm's website. "Our attorneys have handled complex transactions and routine closings, always ensuring that our clients’ interests are protected and all legal requirements are met in a timely manner."