How to Do a Home Sale Between Family Members

The Non-Arm’s Length Transaction

Most home purchases are arm’s-length transactions. That is, they normally happen between people who didn’t know each other before the house sale. When strangers sell and buy, each side is motivated to negotiate in a self-interested way. This tends to result in a price (and mortgage) that reflects the home’s fair market value.  

But sometimes friends, relatives, or business associates sell real estate to each other. A parent might sell to a child, or vice-versa. An owner might sell a rental house to a tenant. A company might sell a house to someone it employs.

The dynamics of these transactions differ from the norm. On one hand, the process can be simpler. On the other hand, it can be hard to diligently inspect and negotiate for property, or sell it for the right price, when personal relationships are implicated.

Here, we walk through a few of the potential benefits and drawbacks in a home sale between people who know each other.

Continue reading “How to Do a Home Sale Between Family Members”

Blockchain Makes Headway in Carbon-Busting

Not Ready for Prime Time in Mortgages, But…

Despite the growing pains and the volatility, crypto assets (the good ones, at least) are finding their use cases. Numerous financial and tech giants are offering customers digital asset options, and investing in the sector in various ways. The federal government recently put all hands on deck to find ways of keeping crypto assets useful, fair, and secure.

The mortgage industry, though, has done no more than dip a toe into distributed ledger a.k.a. blockchain technology. But the industry has to get to grips with the digital age. It has to smooth out the experience for borrowers of mortgages and home equity financing. Today’s mortgage applicant has to submit stacks of paper statements. Underwriters reject copies of webpages because they could be falsified. Title searches involve multiple sources of data when one ought to be enough. And so on. The process is antiquated and stressful, to put it mildly. “We’ve always done it like this” seems to be the only justification for much of the mortgage and title processes. Perhaps distributed ledger technology can help reinvent it. We’re not there yet.

Meanwhile, blockchain and real estate seem to be meshing quite well in the area of greenhouse gas emissions tracking.

Continue reading “Blockchain Makes Headway in Carbon-Busting”

What Is an Implied Easement, and Could Your Property Have One?

An easement gives someone the right to use or control part of somebody else’s land. An easement can be deliberately created through the land owner’s permission. The parties can formalize this by writing up a grant deed, a quitclaim, or an easement deed.

Permanent easements can also be created by a court order, or through deed restrictions.

But sometimes, an easement is just a mutual understanding that the person next door is using part of the owner’s land. An implied easement might exist, then. But only when the land is divided and transferred.

Here, we look at the making of an easement — and the signs that an implied easement has been created.  

Continue reading “What Is an Implied Easement, and Could Your Property Have One?”

Does the Government Seize People’s Homes?

Rising Profile Ahead for Eminent Domain

When you think of eminent domain, what comes to mind? Perhaps you think of land that suffered some kind of toxic dumping or spilling, so that the government has to take it in order to restore it, if possible, to a non-hazardous state. And that does happen.

But sometimes, city governments move to take property under eminent domain for other reasons. Maybe the owner has racked up more back taxes than the home is worth. Or maybe the owner’s mortgage has gone underwater. But can the government legally take such property? When do governments really resort to eminent domain?

As some financial observers are predicting a recession in the midst of a housing shortage, now is a good time to review eminent domain. And in the coming decade we’ll be seeing more of a new eminent domain issue — one driven by climate change.

Read on as we explore these issues.

Continue reading “Does the Government Seize People’s Homes?”

Divorce, Property Division, and the Quitclaim Deed

Legal documents- using a quitclaim deed during a divorce

Parting of the Ways

Co-ownership of a house can unwind in several ways. One way is through divorce proceedings. You might be wondering how this works, and what kind of decisions have to be made.

You might have questions about passing the home to your ex using a quitclaim deed. Here are some of the key issues that arise, and what steps need to be taken in each case.

Continue reading “Divorce, Property Division, and the Quitclaim Deed”

Can I Quitclaim My House Into a Living Trust?

Using the quitclaim deed to keep a house out of probate

Using the Quitclaim to Keep a House Out of Probate

We’re glad you asked. You might have heard that a living trust can…

  • Have your property bypass the costly, time-consuming probate court process when you die.
  • Be modified if you change your mind, and even let you put the property back in your own name while you are alive.
  • Name a successor trustee with the power to pass your property to whomever you designate as the new owner.

All of the above are reasons many people use this method of passing their property along after they die. And a home is a typical piece of property that people put into a living trust.  

Importantly, a living trust is a revocable trust — it’s a trust you control during your life, and can change. Curious as to how it works? Here, we outline the basics of using a living trust to pass a lifetime home along to its future owner(s).

Continue reading “Can I Quitclaim My House Into a Living Trust?”

The Bahamas: Reborn as a Blockchain Real Estate Hub?

The Bahamas and blockchain real estate

Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, and Andrew Yang made appearances at the Crypto Bahamas conference this year. The blockchain company FTX, one of the event’s hosts, boasts Tom Brady in an Ambassador role. Co-hosting the event was SALT, the geopolitical thought leadership forum.

The Bahamian Prime Minister, Philip Davis, opened the event. Clearly, cryptocurrency is welcome in The Bahamas today.

The country regulates digital assets with a set of laws that includes the Digital Assets and Registered Exchanges Act of 2020. Bahamian residents can pay their taxes with digital assets. And the Bahamian digital coin, the Sand Dollar, is a leader among central bank digital currencies.

What are people buying in The Bahamas with their digital assets?

Continue reading “The Bahamas: Reborn as a Blockchain Real Estate Hub?”

What Are Plat Maps?

A Closer Look at Closing Documents

In each county a recorder of deeds keeps documents that show the makeup of the neighborhoods and the individual properties in the county, and the history of the titles. In addition to the real estate deed and creditors’ liens, there are plat maps.

Plat maps are created under the state’s property code. They represent aggregates of plots — the properties, with their individual parcel numbers, that make up a neighborhood and are individually taxed.

All the streets are numbered. Every piece of property has a builder’s lot number, going back to when the subdivision was created.

Continue reading “What Are Plat Maps?”

Check on That Empty House.

Vacant real estate attracting title crooks.

Left Unoccupied?

Clever crooks in Ohio, Maine, and many other regions are swindling people out of their homes by recording fraudulent quitclaim deeds. They’re doing it now, and they’ve been doing it for years. But now, property values have exploded. The stakes in real estate are higher than ever before. That makes the abuse of quitclaim deeds extremely appealing to house thieves.

Quitclaim deeds are documents that don’t require a seller’s warranty of title. Often, quitclaims are used to a house title between co-owners or people who trust each other and know the history of the title.

But there are shady characters out there who seize upon the quitclaim deed to sign vacant property over to themselves. And we all need to be aware of how they work.

Continue reading “Check on That Empty House.”

Property Tax Assessments Rising Again in 2022-2023

Image of hundred dollar bills in US currency arranged on a table made to represent property tax increases.

You Might Be Eligible for Tax Breaks

If you’re a homeowner, or you’re in the market to buy a home, the last thing you want to hear about is rising property taxes. But check those bills.

Even though we expect a slowdown throughout the rest of the year and beyond, the 2022 real estate market is still going strong. And the sky-high real estate values mean taxes are up — again.

Nationwide, many people have recently received their appraisal notices in the mail. What they see will vary by location. Many local tax officials discount their property assessments, so the homeowner may not be taxed on the full market value. Yet tax bills can be in the thousands yearly in some areas.

Continue reading “Property Tax Assessments Rising Again in 2022-2023”