Whatever you do today, do not panic like Chicken Little. Are you going to spend the day wondering if you should train for the 2018 Boston Marathon?* Good for you! Will you spend today pondering a semi-legitimate excuse why you can’t work tomorrow so that you can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Go for it! Whatever you do today, do not panic about the Federal Reserve’s slight increase in interest rates. The sky is not actually falling, but it is a great time to think about your mortgage.
Mortgage rates are cyclical. Interest rates go down, then they go up, before they go back down again. We have been spoiled for a very long time with historically low rates. For at least the short term, they will be on the rise; however, we have no idea where they will eventually peak or if they will ever return to the crazy low rates of recent years. What does this mean for you?
Now is a great time to refinance your existing mortgage. If you have an adjustable mortgage, now is the ideal time to lock in a stable, fixed interest rate. If you have owned your house for a while and have not recently refinanced, now is a great time to explore a lower, fixed interest rate.
This is an excellent time to sell your current home or buy a new home. The real estate market is currently in a very sweet spot where homes are still competitively priced and mortgage rates are still very low.
Does it matter which lender you work with on a purchase or refinance? Yes, yes, yes (did we say yes?). The reality is that most lenders have access to and can offer you similar mortgage programs; however, not all lenders are not all created equal. Can you keep a secret? At Weiner Jackson & Simmons, we have our favorite lenders (and real estate agents too). We love working with people who are detail oriented, communicate with everyone involved in the transaction, and who do not panic when we hit a detour, as so often happens. If this is something that you want to explore, let us know and we will point you in the right direction.
So, no, the sky is not falling. The sun is shining and spring is only four days away. Get ready!
* If you are thinking of training for the 2017 Boston Marathon and haven’t yet started, it is time to panic, unless you are Batman, in which case, you should be totally fine.
2016 was the year of “celebrity” deaths. One passing that went fairly unnoticed was Richard Trentlage, who wrote the Oscar Meyer Wiener song.
Let’s be totally honest: growing up with a name like “Faye Weiner” can be a challenge. Nobody ever knows how to pronounce or spell it and more than every once in a while, someone will sing that catchy song to you like it’s the first time that anyone has ever thought of doing it.
Having a unique name can be rich with family history and personality; however, if you want to change your name, it is very easy to do through legal proceeding.
The most common type of procedure involves a change of marital status. At the time of marriage or divorce, Massachusetts law allows a person to change surname. You cannot force someone to change their surname; however, there is a growing trend of individuals who strongly want their (soon to be) ex-spouse relinquish their married name at the time of divorce. A while back we posted an article on Facebook and Twitter discussing this topic: https://www.facebook.com/pg/Wjslegal/posts https://twitter.com/WJSlegal
We often see our clients struggle with their post-divorce surname; the biggest reasons that we hear are concerns about having the same last name as the children, avoiding the process of changing all accounts and legal documents, as well as easier recognition within the community. Either using your married or maiden name is acceptable and common.
Absent change of marital status, all you need is an original birth certificate, a completed petition to the probate and family court in your county, and a filing fee. Once the documents and fee are submitted, you need to attend a quick judicial hearing. It’s that easy.
….and for those who actually read to the end of this blog, a quick history lesson: the actual last name “Weiner” is pronounced differently depending from where your ancestors migrated. In this case, the family name is related to wine producers (aka “Wine-er”) in European vineyards.
We are going on a limb with this one: Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen likely have a prenuptial agreement. We haven’t seen it, but hopefully, he made provisions for him to retain all of his Super Bowl rings and his MVP trophies if their marriage ends.
If at the time of the marriage, Brady disclosed that he owns three Super Bowl rings and a couple of trophies, but didn’t make provisions for the future? In that case, his wife may have a claim for rings and trophies for the fourth and fifth as marital assets. OUCH (especially for number five).
We love prenuptials for average couples because they create an opportunity for them to have uncomfortable conversations about their priorities and financial future. Have you been married before? Do you have children? Do you have some savings or a home? If the answer to any of those questions is “yes,” then a prenuptial is an important legal protection for you.
Protections typically include division of property, alimony, debt, life insurance, health insurance, and what financial support children from a prior relationship might get during the marriage or when the parent dies. In order for a prenuptial to be valid, the following conditions must be met:
Both parties must make full disclosure of all assets and liabilities;
The agreement must be fair and reasonable at the time entered into by the parties;
Both parties must be represented by counsel;
Both parties must sign the document prior to the wedding;
Both parties must sign the document of their own free will;
Both parties must have the capacity or ability to sign the document; and
The agreement must also be fair and reasonable at the time of divorce.
Given the second look at the time of divorce, it would be unlikely that our GOAT would lose his fourth and fifth rings if they were not protected in a prenuptial. That would just be unfair and unreasonable, wouldn’t it?
Yea….you found a new home! You have so much to do. You need to pack. You may also be busy shopping for necessities, such as furniture, towels and dishes. You may also need to hurry up and WAIT??
Closing attorneys, lenders, and real estate agents do their best to make closings happen on the date stated on your Purchase and Sales Agreement (“P&S”). We work as a team, along with many other professionals. During this time, lenders coordinate with appraisers and insurance companies. Agents insure that certificates are obtained and utilities paid. The closing attorney teams with engineers, title researchers, local tax officials, and sellers (or their attorneys). A good team of agents, lenders, and attorneys will be in constant communication with one another and will be focused on the same goal of closing on time.
Once everything is ready, your lender will send a Closing Disclosure for your approval. The Closing Disclosure contains all costs and credits involved in the transaction. Buyers must wait three days after the document is released to “close” or purchase the home.
What happens next? Make sure that you have your photo identification ready, your funds available, and stretch those fingers!
Typical closings involve 150(ish) pages of paper, some from the lender and others from the attorney. Some of the documents will be familiar to you, like your Closing Disclosure, tax forms and loan application; other documents may be less familiar to you, like an Owner’s Title Policy or Declaration of Homestead. The closing attorney will highlight the content, show you where to sign or initial, and (sometimes) date. The entire process usually moves very quickly and is done under one hour.
Once the documents are signed, some need to be recorded at your local Registry of Deeds. As soon as that happens, you are officially a homeowner. Congratulations!!
** In most cases, a Closing Disclosure is used; however, there are exceptions, such as a property being paid for in cash and reverse mortgages.
Have you ever noticed that when a doctor walks into a room, everyone suddenly has medical ailments? The question usually starts with, “I hate to ask you this when you’re not at work, BUT….”
We have a sweet as pie cousin who happens to be a pediatrician. We try not to ask her questions, but, inevitably, small talk among parents often leads into something medical. As we kick ourselves for letting the words escape our lips, she is very always gracious to share her opinion and experience as a parent, family member, and (yes) pediatrician.
The same thing happens regardless of what you do for work. Everyone has a situation that they want to discuss or question that they want to ask. Like our cousin, we are always happy to help and share our knowledge and experience. So, before you ask, we will share the answers to our most often asked real estate questions:
“I heard that mortgage rates have gone up lately. Should I wait to buy or refinance a house until the interest rates drop?”
It is still a great time to buy a new home or refinance your current home. Yes, rates have increased very slightly over the last few months, but they are still really low at this point. We have all been really spoiled with the ridiculously low mortgage rates for the last few years. Have you ever asked your parents or grandparents about when they purchased their home? They probably told you that their house cost $26,000.00, but also that their interest rate was 17-20%. With mortgage rates still so slow and such a variety of lending programs available, it is definitely worth exploring whether it makes financial sense to buy or refinance now, before the rates rise.
“Should I have an attorney review my Purchase and Sales (“P&S”)?
In a profession where our answer is frequently “it depends,” our answer to this question is it is verywise to do so. The most important reason is that, once it is signed, you have committed to the terms and cannot change them.
Most real estate agents use a standard form created by REBA, the Real Estate Bar Association of Massachusetts. Are the forms any good? Yes, but our experience guides anticipation all of the legal problems that might arise during your transaction and which cannot be added to the document by an agent. We attach addendum which offer important, additional protections, related to condition of the premises, delivery of Deed, survey review, potential defects to title, ability to obtain property and Title Insurance, damage to the property, deposits, contingencies for mortgage or sale of other property, and other important aspects of the home.
“Do I need Title Insurance?”
We often get this question at the closing table. Lenders typically require a policy for the loan and which is paid by the buyer. An Owner’s title policy is optional; however, it’s one of the smartestinvestments that you can make in your home and it is reasonably priced, especially when compared to the cost of fixing issues that might arise later.
For purchases, we look at a 50 year history of the premises. Even the most meticulous search may not unveil hidden risks with your “title (aka ownership),” because those risks have not yet become evident by the time of closing. Some specific hidden risks that can be protected by Title Insurance are:
* fraud or mis-representation in connection to the execution of the documents;
* undue pressure on the seller or personal representative of an estate;
* false impersonation by people claiming to own the property;
* incorrect statement about the marital status of a Seller (which is more likely if the premises is being sold during a divorce);
* issues related to a seller who has passed away, including disclosed or missing heirs, birth of additional potential heirs after the creation of the will, misinterpretation of a will or trust, and estates which were not properly probated;
* inadequate survey;
* incorrect legal description;
* non-delivery of deeds;
* claims or liens not yet on record;
* confusion regarding similar or incorrect names;
* delivery of deeds after the death of a grantor;
* incorrect indexing at the Registry of Deeds;
* unrecorded easements; and
* zoning violations.
As always, please call or email us if you have any questions regarding this or anything else.
Disclaimer: The material contained in this website does not constitute legal advice or a legal opinion as to any particular matter. Nor is it intended to create an attorney-client, business or professional relationship. You should not rely on the information contained in this website without first speaking with an attorney. No claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this website are made. This material may be considered advertising under the rules of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.