The Land Trust Approach to Affordable Housing

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Rises in property values are great news for city homeowners. On the other side of the coin, they make the home buying journey that much steeper for buyers. Gentrification of near-downtown areas can make personal finances harder to handle, as property taxes go up. This is a constant challenge for U.S. cities.

Urban renewal shouldn’t mean pricing people out of the city. With that thought in mind, residents themselves are writing the next chapter in the story of affordable real estate: lasting affordability. In their quest to create permanently affordable housing, community members and leaders are teaming up to form land trust coalitions.

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The Real Estate Easement: A Guide and Glossary

Image of a plat map for real estate showing an easement. Captioned: The Real Estate Easement: A Guide and Glossary

An easement is a right to use another’s land for a specific purpose not inconsistent with the landowner’s simultaneous right to hold the same property. The word is derived from the Old French term aisier: to assist. This legal right to use land that is not one’s own can be acquired in several ways: 

  • By grant (owner permission).
  • By prescription (longtime use).
  • By necessity. The law protects access; a property without street access would be practically useless. Thus, the landowner must allow necessary access.

A state’s Statute of Frauds typically requires that transferring any interest in real estate, even a grant of an easement, is only made binding through a signed, written agreement. Yet in some cases an easement is implied. Because the law protects access, a court may find access granted by implication, depending on the facts of a given situation.

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Is a Hurtful Deed Restriction Lurking in Your Deed?

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Restrictive covenants are binding obligations not to do something with your property. These restrictions on real property are normally contained in a deed.

Restrictive covenants originated to keep industry out of residential areas. To this day, homeowners’ associations use deed restrictions in order to make condo owners adhere to established aesthetics or the property’s historical character.

They have also been used as grotesque tools of discrimination.

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Nevada Clarifies Mortgage Law, But What About Deed of Trust Lender Entry Provisions?

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In May 2019, effective October 1, 2019, Nevada passed Senate Bill 382 amending the law pertaining to deeds of trust, foreclosure sales, and homeowners’ associations.

Among other things, this is a change to Nevada Revised Statute § 40.050, whose language states that a mortgage of real property is not deemed a conveyance. If a mortgage does not constitute a conveyance, the mortgage lender may take possession on the home upon the inhabitant’s default, bypassing a judicial foreclosure sale.

Nevada employs a deed of trust between the home buyer and the lender. A deed of trust places the legal ownership of a home with a designated trustee until the buyer—who holds equitable ownership—pays off the loan.   

Of course, some buyers do experience financial challenges and find themselves unable to pay their mortgages.

Here, we briefly explore the ramifications, as seen through a case that shook mortgage lenders’ expectations in homes they held legally through deeds of trust.

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The Gift of Real Estate: What You Need to Know

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Making a home into a gift involves a gift deed. The gift deed legally transfers the title of the property from you, the grantor or donor, to another person or entity. This type of conveyance may be used to convey property as a gift from one family member to another, or to donate property to a nonprofit.

A mere promise to convey the property at some point in the future does not constitute a legally sound gift. A properly drafted deed makes a gift outright—a conveyance for no consideration. In other words, the giver makes the gift unequivocally, with no compensation expected, and no strings attached.

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Real Estate Title Insurance: A Brief Explanation

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Title insurance emerged more than a century ago. It had a purpose: to stop swindlers from cheating buyers, by ascertaining that land was, in fact, owned by the person selling it.

Since then, it has grown into a multi-billion-dollar business. 

And while today’s title insurance industry ostensibly protects homeowners from defects in their deeds, some believe it has been rendered practically obsolete in the digital age. Today, a record search can be done for less than a tenth of the prevailing rate of title insurance—which can exceed $2000, depending on the home’s price and the state in which the property sale occurs. 

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Why Do Real Estate Deeds Require a Notary?

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A notary’s acknowledgement is vital to the integrity of the residential property deed. Why?

The real estate deed is a formal instrument. It must verify the grantor’s interest in, and right to convey, the property. It must protect the interest transferred to the grantee. Notarization gives the deed a strong presumption of validity relative to other types of property documents. The careful stewardship applied to a home deed helps keep a clear chronicle of ownership and preserve the chain of title. Without such care, a bona fide purchaser might one day be forced to confront claims by others who believe they hold interests in the same real estate.

Here, we outline a notary’s job, and how it becomes an integral element of a real estate transaction.

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Estate Planning for Your Real Estate Holdings

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Real estate can be a fantastic investment. It is often considered one of the most stable money moves that you can make if you are looking for a way to see real return on a business venture, sometimes with little personal involvement.

However, when you hold several properties, you need to take steps to protect that investment. One of the ways that you should do that is by developing an estate plan that works for your unique situation. It is not only a good idea for you personally, but it will also be very helpful for your heirs.

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What Is a Deed of Trust?

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With a deed of trust, a buyer pledges an interest in real estate to secure a loan. In some states this takes the place of a mortgage document. (For a list of states commonly using deeds of trust see the section on Mortgage States and Deed of Trust States in our previous post, “You’ve Paid Off the Mortgage. What Happens Now?”)

Whereas a mortgage agreement is formed between the borrower and the lender, a deed of trust, also known as a trust deed, has one key difference. The trust deed designates a trustee—a third party who retains legal ownership of the home until the buyer completes the payoff.  

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