Condominium Conversions- Streamlining the Process by Deregistering from Land Court
Monday, September 2, 2019
We recently handled a “condominium conversion,” converting a client’s two-family home in Jamaica Plain into a two-unit condominium.
When the client first contacted us, we checked the Registry website and discovered that the title was in the Land Court. The Land Court has many benefits, but for a condominium conversion, the review and approval process can drag on for months. For a Buyer obtaining financing and/or a Seller who is reliant on the proceeds of the sale to fund another transaction, the unwieldy length of the process can be daunting. Moreover, in an industry that is oriented towards meeting specific dates, the uncertainly regarding final Land Court condominium approval will leave a real estate professional without control of the process and ultimately unable to substantively address a client’s concerns.
As a workaround, my team deregistered the Jamaica Plain home for the Land Court. In order to voluntarily withdraw land from the registration system, we had to obtain lender approval. The Seller had two mortgages with a local lender, so we were able to obtain authorization relatively quickly (if a Seller has a mortgage held by a national lender or service provider that likely won’t provide authorization or even respond to a request, there is a statute that allows for 60 day notice as an alternative).
Once we had lender approval, my office filed a motion to deregister with the Land Court (the filing fee was relatively inexpensive). The Land Court allowed the motion right away. As a result of the voluntary withdrawal of the land, the listing agent was able to list the property on the Seller’s timetable, and the selling process was extremely orderly. Prior to closing, we filed the order allowing the volunatry withdrawal in the Land Court, and then we were able to record the Master Deed, Declaration of Trust and Plans in recorded land.
There was one other bonus for our Seller. The Land Court requires a full survey for a condominium conversion, whereas an architect’s plan is acceptable after deregistering. Thus, the client was able to save approximately $1,500. The closing went off without a hitch, benefitng the Buyer, Seller, and all of the real estate professionals involved in the transaction.
Boston Globe Spring Real Estate Market Edition
Thursday, April 4, 2019
The Boston Sunday Globe's spring real estate edition hits newsstands, err, mobile apps this Sunday. This article discusses actions a Seller should take in a hot real estate market. The Globe ran several of my quotes in the piece. I noted that a skilled realtor is the key to navigating the transaction. Globe Spring Real Estate Article
2019 Real Estate Market Outlook
Friday, January 11, 2019
Considering the financial markets volatility, the 2019 financial year has started off on an improved note led by the decrease in interest rates and the rebounding stock market. This paints an optimistic picture of what could be in store for the real estate market in 2019.
Although pundits are once again talking about a softening of the real estate market, there are noteworthy signs that point to a positive year when it comes to real estate, both with transactions and appreciation. According to Freddie Mac, the average 30-year fixed rate has dipped to 4.51 percent, bringing the rates back to where they were in May, 2018. During this time in 2018, inventory was at it lowest in parts of the country, according to the Massachusetts Association of Realtors. Additionally, in May, the median price of homes in the state rose over the $400,000 mark for the first time in 2018. These improvements, while not a direct correlation to interest rates, do positively influence consumer confidence and stimulate the market with refinances. The stock market has seen an 8% surge since Christmas, which will also contribute to an increased sense of consumer confidence.
While it is expected that inventory is always thin in the winter, the (relatively) mild winter weather in the Northeast (to date) and an active pool of buyers, due to the lower inventory available, makes January a great time to list a home or condominium. Historically, buyers who are out shopping in the winter have a motivation for which cold, sleet and snow will not stop them from pursuing their home search and thus, equates to more serious buyers who are ready to make decisions quickly.
Additionally, for buyers, purchasing earlier than anticipated carries the advantage of eliminating much of the competition that is prevalent in the spring market. Submitting an offer prior to the onslaught of buyer competition that materializes during the spring market carries three distinct advantages; first, it allows the buyer to take advantage of lower interest rates, second, there is a greater likelihood of getting the offer accepted, because the buyers have fewer people to bid against and, last, but not least, it affords a buyer the opportunity to include contingencies (e.g., finance and inspection) that might not be favorable to winning the bid when going up against many other bidders.
So, while the news can be confusing, all key indicators point to a strong year in real estate for 2019, which, as the year unfolds will continue to increase confidence to fuel the market even more.
Closing the Gap In the Real Estate Closing Process.
Tuesday, January 8, 2019
Watch the video to understand the Real Estate closing process and the new technologies implemented to create a simplified and smooth closing process for all parties involved!
Click here to read the full article!
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
When purchasing a house or condominium, it is a good idea to check with the municipality to determine if there are any open permits on the property. Most municipalities have an on-line database, which makes the research easier. If a permit is located, then it is reasonable to request that the Seller remedy the issue. Possible outcomes of a request include: -Seller to make any necessary repairs and the municipality signs off and closes out permits prior to closing; -Seller provides a Buyer credit; -Seller does not agree to remedy some of the prior owner permits. If the open permits issue is not resolved to a Buyer’s satisfaction, then a negotiation can ensue. Factors to consider in the negotiation are whether there are other offers, likelihood of another Buyer raising the same issue, feasibility of the municipality signing off on remaining open permits (in Boston, for example, the city often cannot close out older permits), and the cost of the work (if) needed to close out the permit(s). A skilled real estate attorney can provide additional guidance.
Improve Your Outlook
Wednesday, October 17, 2018
How Boston's Canner Law Gained Their Competitive Advantage in the Real Estate Closing Industry
Thursday, August 30, 2018
We are pleased to work with our many vendors to deliver the most cutting edge services to our clients. Our real estate software allows us to deliver numerous enhanced services.
Click here to watch our video!
What Real Estate Agents Should Expect From a Real Estate Attorney
Thursday, August 9, 2018
All real estate attorneys possess the legal acumen needed to purchase and sell homes safely and efficiently. However, only the best attorneys make the purchase and sale process seamless not just for the homeowner, but also for the real estate agent, the mortgage firm, and everyone else involved in this complex process. Real estate agents can help ensure that they have the best person for them if they know what to expect from the real estate attorney, and what is needed to facilitate a smooth home buying experience for everyone involved.
Real estate attorneys are not paid through commission; they are paid solely for their expertise. Therefore, it is imperative that they conduct themselves in the utmost professional and ethical manner at all times. Attorneys should always follow the laws and regulations in their field, without bribery or deception. If you think something is suspicious, ask. And if you suspect that an attorney has a hazy ethical code, look up reviews, ask for references, and ask fellow agents – you’ll often be able to use colleagues in the industry to confirm or deny any lingering suspicions.
Buying and selling homes can be chaotic enough without a real estate attorney that does not do their job efficiently. The attorney should be readily available and offer tools that make the process easier, like communication platforms, options for sharing protected documents, and more. One example of a tool that actually consolidates all of those services is Qualia, a technology platform that allows agents, attorneys, and brokers to simplify the home purchasing/ selling process. It not only limits the number of platforms through which the involved parties need to communicate and share documents, but also adds a layer of transparency so that all parties involved can see the process move along in real time. You want your attorney to have something like this, so that your and your client’s process is easier, and more enjoyable.
Real estate agents should demand that their real estate attorneys have a good reputation in the industry. Real estate attorneys are an integral part of the real estate process and need to be able establish client and industry relationships that make all parties involved feel confident and comfortable with each step of the process. You should look for an attorney that has a solid track record of clearing titles, negotiating contracts, and working through challenging situations. Social media, review sites, and personal references all allow agents to explore an attorney’s past, and ensure that they are the right fit for you.
Though an attorney’s reputation is important, it’s almost, if not more important that an attorney has strong relationships with individuals in the local real estate industry. If they are well known among the local realtors and community, that tells you that they have done their job for long enough, and well enough, that they are recognized and remembered throughout the industry. Their connections within the community are also helpful in allowing you to complete the real estate transaction properly and quickly.
Though not comprehensive, these characteristics provide a good roadmap for what to look for when determining the best legal partner for you and, most importantly, for your client.
Check out this great video!
Trying to Buy a Home in Massachusetts? Prepare Yourself
Friday, June 29, 2018
Bidding War Advice from a Real Estate Attorney
Thursday, May 31, 2018
The Greater Boston real estate market is historically competitive right now, and many properties are selling for well above listing prices. In competitive markets, bidding wars are commonplace. How do you win them and, most importantly, how do you win without taking on an undue level of risk? The points below offer different ways to craft your offer, and what to consider before you commit beyond your means.
- Find a real estate agent that is communicative, punctual, and level-headed
- Your real estate agent should continually communicate with the listing agent, provide all documentation in a timely manner, and offer you advice that’s in your best interest, in every way. It’s not just the offer you put in that is important – it’s the agent’s relationships with other professionals in the market, his or her familiarity with the specific region in which you’re buying, and his or her ability to communicate effectively and frequently, which will best position you for success.
- Determine the risks that you’re willing to take
- According to a study quoted in the Wall Street Journal, all-cash offers are most impactful when it comes to winning the bid, boosting the buyer’s odds of winning by nearly double. However, all-cash offers are neither common nor typically feasible, so – what are the next best options?
Well, the second and third most effective ways to win a bid are: “waiving a financing contingency—effectively agreeing to forfeit the deposit if a buyer can’t get a mortgage,” and, interestingly-enough, penning a cover letter. The fascinating piece of this is: waiving a financing contingency increases the buyer’s odds by 57.9%, and, at the same time, puts the buyer at a good deal of risk, while penning a simple, heartfelt letter boosts it by 52.5%, and entails zero risk. Mortgage contingency waivers are now highly common. Before electing this scenario, however, you should be confident in your financial situation. Generally, if you’re planning to finance more than 80% of the purchase price, you should not waive this contingency – it’s simply too risky.
Beyond these three tactics, other methods that have been successful include: escalation clauses (in which the buyer’s bid will automatically increase if another offer comes in higher than their original), waived inspection contingency (buyer can’t cancel or renegotiate based on results of inspection), and pre-inspection (inspection scheduled before offer is made). Each tactic carries risk, and each risk should come with a certain threshold for the buyer. For example, will you be willing to waive an inspection contingency if you notice 200-year-old fireplaces? Is this your first time buying, and are you concerned about the terms of a potential mortgage? If so, waiving a financial contingency may not be in your best interest. The answers to all of these questions simply depend on where you are financially, and how much risk you are willing and able to take on.
- Take a minute to listen to your gut.
- Yes, the hardwood floors are beautiful; yes, it’s a great neighborhood. But what is any given home truly WORTH to you, specifically? Will you be okay if the roof needs repairs? What about if the financing doesn’t quite align with the bid you made? Is this home worth those additional potential costs?
Before taking a risk with the inspection or financing, consider: what is winning this home worth, and at what point does winning just become winning? In other words, are you truly, absolutely sure of the home and what you’re willing to do for it?
Try to give yourself time, and know that you can always consult a real estate attorney with any questions you have about bidding wars and risky offers.