Purchase CEMA Guide

Apr 25th 2024
Closing costs in New York City are notoriously high. One way to reduce closing costs is to use a purchase CEMA. Let's explore what types of transactions are eligible as well as outlining the potential savings when using a purchase CEMA.

hash-markTable of Contents

What Is a Purchase CEMA?
Purchase CEMA Eligible Transactions
How Does a Purchase CEMA Save Money?
Purchase CEMA Example
Expect Longer Closing Times When Using a Purchase CEMA
Purchase CEMA Bottom Line

hash-markWhat Is a Purchase CEMA?

A Purchase CEMA, which is also known as a Purchase Consolidation Extension Modification Agreement or a “splitter,” is a type of mortgage where the buyer is essentially taking over the seller’s mortgage and consolidating it with their new mortgage. A purchase CEMA can reduce closing costs when a buyer purchases a condominium, townhouse, or single-family home in New York City. 

Using a Purchase CEMA is a strategy employed to reduce a variety of NYC real estate taxes associated with selling a property. Specifically, the purchase CEMA will reduce closing costs in the following ways: The buyer’s NYC mortgage recording tax will be reduced as well as the seller’s transfer tax bill. In simple terms, when using a Purchase CEMA, the seller assigns the buyer their existing mortgage balance. The buyer then takes on and combines it into a new loan. By doing this many taxes don't apply to the original, outstanding mortgage amount.

hash-markPurchase CEMA Eligible Transactions

Similar to a traditional CEMA loan, there are numerous limitations to when you can use a Purchase CEMA. To start, a purchase CEMA mortgage is only eligible for New Yorkers. The next requirement is that the seller has an outstanding mortgage. Additionally, all CEMA loans are only available to those refinancing condominiums, houses, and townhouses. They are not available for co-ops. That is because coops are not real property and are considered personal property. Finally, all of the parties need to be willing to participate. This includes the buyer and seller, as well as their respective lenders.

hash-markHow Does a Purchase CEMA Save Money?

  1. Buyers Benefit from a Reduction of the Mortgage Recording Tax
  2. Sellers Benefit from a Reduction in Transfer Tax

1. Buyers Benefit from a Reduction of the Mortgage Recording Tax

This Mortgage Recording Tax, which is part of the closing cost for closing on a purchase or a refinance, is significant in New York State and is typically the largest closing cost paid by buyers. 

The benefit of obtaining a purchase CEMA loan is that you only pay taxes on the difference between your seller’s loan (which they assign to the buyer) and the buyer’s new loan amount.

2. Sellers Benefit from a Reduction in Transfer Tax

The seller will get a reduction in New York State transfer taxes thanks to a continuing lien reduction. While this is typically a less significant savings than the buyer's reduction in mortgage recording taxes sellers can still use a purchase CEMA as an incentive to attract potential buyers in a soft market. 

hash-markPurchase CEMA Example

Let's look at the potential savings from a purchase CEMA. We'll use an example of buying a $1,500,000 condo. The seller has a $500,000 mortgage which will be rolled into a new $1,000,000 mortgage for the buyer. Normally, a buyer would pay a 1.925% mortgage tax on all $1,000,000, which totals $19,250. But, with a purchase CEMA, the tax will only be paid on the new money. This will result in a bill of $9,625. Meanwhile, the seller will only pay $2,000 in NY State transfer taxes (0.4% of $500,000) instead of $4,000. 

As you can see it makes the most sense to use a purchase CEMA when the balance of each mortgage is fairly large. As a general rule, to get the most benefit you the outstanding balance should be at least $400,000. 

hash-markExpect Longer Closing Times When Using a Purchase CEMA

There are lots of moving parts when obtaining a Purchase CEMA, and cooperation between the parties is essential. A Purchase CEMA requires cooperation between the buyer and seller as well as each party's bank. Additionally, keep in mind that some banks will not provide CEMA loans when refinancing or purchasing with an outside bank.

Another potential issue can arise if the chain of title is broken. In the event that the chain of title is broken and/or your bank has not retained copies of all the material paperwork, more than likely, you will be unable to obtain a CEMA loan.

Typically, the turnaround time for a Purchase CEMA can range from 30 days up to 90 days or longer, but the average would be around six weeks. Therefore, if time is a priority, you may want to consider just obtaining a traditional loan to purchase the property. 

hash-markPurchase CEMA Bottom Line

Using a Purchase CEMA can be a great way to save money when buying real estate in New York. The main things to keep in mind is that you need to be buying an eligible property that has an outstanding loan on it and that you need to have a little bit of extra time. As long as you meet the requirements and aren't in a time crunch, you can save thousands of dollars by using a purchase CEMA.