Brooklyn property values are going up. And there are plenty
of opportunists looking to steal deeds. In the Bedford-Stuyvesant district of
Brooklyn in New York City, Dairus Griffiths just triumphed over those
In the past decade, Brooklyn has lost many of its Black and
Hispanic residents, as gentrification reshapes the district. Serial fraudsters
and their limited liability companies aren’t making life any easier for
longtime residents. They scour public records for the most vulnerable and
Deed cheats use the shell company structure to blur the
identities of holders. The manipulators lie to their targets; they forge deeds;
and they move houses from one LLC to the next. Identifying and charging these
manipulators becomes very hard to do.
Continue reading “Amid New York City’s Rampant Deed Theft, One Victim Wins”
Adds Climate Data to Real Estate Listings
A storm that could threaten a million homes would have been
rare a generation ago. Not anymore. Today’s hurricanes gather their power over
warming ocean and gulf waters. A warmer atmosphere holds more moisture,
creating heavier rains. At the same time, dry areas of the country are hotter,
and losing moisture. And that increases the risks for heat waves, droughts or
Continue reading “Adding Climate Data to Real Estate Listings: New Realities for Homeowners?”
Closing Discounts for Vaccinated Borrowers,
and Other Stories
A year and a half has passed since the major 2020 workplace
interruptions. And here we are. Still grappling with the health and economic threats
from Covid — especially its delta variant.
The Biden administration wants fully vaccinated adults to receive a Covid-19 booster shot as soon as scientists give the go-ahead. And, as announced in a presidential address to the nation on September 9, a vaccine mandate now applies to some two-thirds of all U.S. employees — those employed by businesses with a workforce of 100+.
As expected, the directive is drawing scrutiny and controversy. Yet the National Association of Manufacturers calls vaccines an economic imperative. Amazon has voiced support for the mandate. Facebook and Microsoft say they already require the vaccines for their office staff.
Among the growing number of entities requiring staff vaccinations are Saks Fifth Avenue, the New York Stock Exchange as well as several major banks, the City of New Orleans (for all public events), CNN and Fox News, Twitter, Google, Uber and Lyft, Tyson Foods, Walt Disney and United Airlines. Recent polls show 52% percent of U.S. workers support vaccine mandates, with 29% strongly opposed.
Vaccine requirement decisions have also entered the real
estate sphere. Here, we review some notable news from the industry.
Continue reading “The Real Estate Industry Weighs in on Vaccines”
and Public Solutions to the Risks of Market Declines
In general, the
value of a home tends to go up. Yet when home values are already very high,
we remember that housing markets do decline at times and in specific areas. This
is of special concern for the owner who has borrowed heavily on a house — as
many perfectly reasonable buyers do.
Say you buy a house or condo when the market is brisk and competitive.
Then, after you own it a little while, say the prices in your area start to
weaken. In some cases, this could mean your place is barely valued at the
amount you owe on the mortgage. Or it could mean you’ll lose money if you need
While this is not the usual case, some owners might nevertheless
wonder if there are any means of protecting their home equity from an economic
Continue reading “Protecting the Value in Home Equity”
Property taxes are a test of strength for most homeowners.
For people on fixed incomes, rises in property values — and thus taxes — can be
dastardly. Now, imagine people on fixed incomes who just happen to live in
Illinois ranks #2, after New Jersey, for highest property taxes in the nation, according to a recent WalletHub analysis. The Illinois homeowner shells out an average of $5,000 in property taxes on a $217,500 house. That means people in Illinois pay double what the average homeowner pays in property taxes nationwide.
Some seniors can’t pay it, and have no way to earn the extra
income. For them, there is a little extra relief coming this year — perhaps
just enough to keep some of the most cash-strapped homeowners in their homes.
More on this below.
Continue reading “Illinois Property Taxes Are Ridiculous. A 2021 Change Helps Some Seniors, But Cook County Assessment Scandals Add to Challenges”
Racial fairness is undergoing significant progress in real estate law this year — particularly in the area of confronting offensive deed restrictions. In some notable updates for 2021-2022, Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, Illinois and Texas are confronting tackling race-based covenants in deeds. Parallel provisions are already available in a handful of states, including Florida, Maryland, Utah, and Washington.
And, in what might be a nationwide first, the state of
Oregon is prohibiting the practice of writing “love letters” to sellers in
order to win in the home-buying arena.
Continue reading “Transforming Real Estate Law: Nationwide, a Quest for Racial Fairness Gains Ground”
New York City’s Department of Finance is trying out
blockchain. Can the technology make recording and keeping deeds a better
process? The test run, handled by Medici Land Governance (MLG), will find out
whether the method will work in a massive city, the company stated
in August 2021. MLG is owned by Overstock.com — an early adopter of blockchain
in the retail sphere. Its blockchain recording system is proven to be tamper-resistant
and easily searched.
Continue reading “Start Spreading the News: Blockchain Deed Recording Comes to New York City”
Adverse Possession Also Clarified
Congrats to Texas, where the government just gave a boost to
the quitclaim deed! People who receive their homes through recorded quitclaim
deeds will now be on firmer ground in the Lone Star State. Here’s what you need
Strengthening the Chain of Title for Texas Property
In May, a bill was signed into law to amend Chapter 13 of the
Texas Property Code, to take effect on Sep. 1, 2021. From now on, using a
quitclaim deed to transfer title from one owner to the next will be easier. Title
companies will be able to consider buyers who accepted and recorded quitclaims as
bona fide purchasers after four years. Texas formally set a four-year
statute of limitations for competing claims.
Once a quitclaim deed is recorded in the property’s county,
a later purchaser or lender has good-faith protection, as long as the party has
no knowledge of other unrecorded claims on the property. What does this mean
for buyers of real estate with a quitclaim in the chain of title? The buyer can
legally claim good faith purchaser status.
Continue reading “Texans Welcome New Guidance for Quitclaim Deeds”
Maine will cover property taxes for homeowners aged 65+ who
have annual incomes under 40K. Thousands of homeowners — most of Maine’s
residents who receive Social Security benefits — will be eligible for the
benefit. The provision, LD 1638, takes effect on Oct. 18, 2021. There is a
catch for these eligible owners, though.
Here’s the story.
Continue reading “Hold On, Maine Seniors. Property Tax Relief Is Coming”
Buying a home in a competitive market? The best way to get
the one you want is to put a good deal of money down on the house, and make an
all-cash offer. A cash offer can avoid bidding wars and win the day.
Of course, not everyone has the cash on hand to pay for a
house. Some buyers might wait until they have a full loan approval to make
their offers. Others might get a boost from friends or relatives willing to
advance the cash.
Today, there’s an additional option available that doesn’t
require a buyer to fork over the cash. If you qualify for a home loan, chances
are you can also get a loan to let you make your seller a “cash offer” as well.
That is, you can finance your cash offer.
Here, we take a closer look at the various routes. Depending
on the situation, one could lead to a winning deal for you.
Continue reading “Winning Bids: New Ways to Finance Cash Offers”