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Creative Marketing

While driving through the Baltimore/ Washington D.C. area, there was a billboard that said, “Don’t get a divorce…get a bigger house.” Four days later, the advertisement is stuck in my head.

Although we are all for buying the house of your dreams, it will not save your marriage. What really happens to your house in a divorce?

1. The marital home is the most sought asset during a divorce. At the beginning of the divorce process, everyone wants to keep the marital home; however, it is rare that that both parties can afford to keep the home on their one income, often determining who could actually keep the house;
2. One spouse keeps the house. If one of the parties can afford to keep the home, they should refinance under their own name and based on their individual income. At the time of refinance, the ownership is often transferred by Quitclaim Deed;
3..Get your name off the mortgage if you don’t own the house. If you have signed a Quitclaim Deed to relinquish ownership rights, make sure that you don’t have any financial responsibility for the mortgage or taxes. We recommend this for both security (in case your ex doesn’t pay the mortgage for any reason) and because any financial obligations will limit your ability to secure your own credit for a future rental or purchase;
4. Sell the house. This can be done either before or after the divorce occurs, but it’s easier if the parties agree how the proceeds will be divided before the house is put on the market;
5. It gets more complicated when the mortgage exceeds the value of the home. Couples that cannot afford to pay the overage due usually have to choose a short sale, renting the home or continuing to live together;
5. Buying a house during the divorce process isn’t always a great idea. The home will be considered a marital asset and subject to division. Also, mortgage underwriters may be a bit concerned about your future income and assets, which could cause delays.

As always, please let us know if we can assist you with any concerns or legal matters.

Warm Regards,
John & Faye

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Lending Reform

Changes are coming to Mortgage Land. It’s going to get easier to buy a house. What does Realtor.com say about it? Read their great summary here:

https://www.realtor.com/news/real-estate-news/home-buyers-know-about-new-lending-reform-law/?iid=rdc_news_hp_carousel_theLatest

 

As always, please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.
Warm regards,
John & Faye

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“Can I Ask You A Question?”

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 very wise 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 smartest investments 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:

* forgery;
* 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.

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Holy Smokes: Marijuana in Massachusetts

Congratulations, Massachusetts! We have survived our first full day of legal recreational marijuana.

Realistically, not much has changed. Massachusetts has been pro- marijuana for almost ten years. We first decriminalized (meaning you won’t get arrested for possession) it in 2008 and approved it for medical use in 2012. The first “local” medical dispensary was recently approved in Mansfield, in the town next to our office.

Effective yesterday, anyone age 21 or old can possess up to 10 ounces of marijuana in their primary residence; however, there are still rules that must be followed, some of which are:
·         You can also possess up to 6 plants if you live alone and 12 plants if you live with another adult;
·         If you want to give someone else an ounce of marijuana as a gift, you can do it;
·         If you want to sell it, you still cannot; and
·         Your plants cannot be displayed in plain sight (aka in a window facing the street).

One of the key provisions of the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act is that it is “illegal to prevent a person from prohibiting or otherwise regulating the consumption, display, production, processing, manufacturing, or sale of marijuana and marijuana accessories on or in a property the person owns, occupies, or manages except that a lease agreement shall not prohibit a tenant consuming marijuana by means other than smoking on or in property in which tenant resides unless failing to do so would cause the landlord to violate Federal law.”

This language creates an immediate concern for many landlords. If a landlord already has a “no smoking” regulation on their premises, there should already been an understanding that smoking marijuana in that unit would not be permitted; however, whether or not the tenant would be able to possess or grow marijuana on the premises is probably unclear in the existing lease. For this reason, we recommend that all landlords immediately create an addendum to their existing lease agreement to regulate the growing and smoking of marijuana.

Please see our website www.wjslegal.com for more information. As always, please feel free to contact us about this or any other legal questions that you may have.
rday, anyone age 21 or old can possess up to 10 ounces of marijuana in their primary residence; however, there are still rules that must be followed, some of which are:
·         You can also possess up to 6 plants if you live alone and 12 plants if you live with another adult;
·         If you want to give someone else an ounce of marijuana as a gift, you can do it;
·         If you want to sell it, you still cannot; and
·         Your plants cannot be displayed in plain sight (aka in a window facing the street).

One of the key provisions of the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act is that it is “illegal to prevent a person from prohibiting or otherwise regulating the consumption, display, production, processing, manufacturing, or sale of marijuana and marijuana accessories on or in a property the person owns, occupies, or manages except that a lease agreement shall not prohibit a tenant consuming marijuana by means other than smoking on or in property in which tenant resides unless failing to do so would cause the landlord to violate Federal law.”

This language creates an immediate concern for many landlords. If a landlord already has a “no smoking” regulation on their premises, there should already been an understanding that smoking marijuana in that unit would not be permitted; however, whether or not the tenant would be able to possess or grow marijuana on the premises is probably unclear in the existing lease. For this reason, we recommend that all landlords immediately create an addendum to their existing lease agreement to regulate the growing and smoking of marijuana.

Please see our website www.wjslegal.com for more information. As always, please feel free to contact us about this or any other legal questions that you may have.

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National Holidays

 

 

 

 

There are some days on the calendar that we all recognize as holidays (even if we don’t celebrate them): December 25th,  October 31st and July 4th; however, there many obscure “National Days” of which you are probably not aware. For instance, did you know that May 19th in National Devil’s Food Cake Day or that August 5th is National Underwear day? Chances are good that you have no idea that the first Monday after New Year’s, when everyone returns to work, is considered by many people to be National Divorce Day.

Divorce Day has become a “thing” over the last couple of decades. Nobody is truly sure what it is about that date that makes it such an attractive time to call an attorney to start the divorce process.  It could be seasonal depression, conflict over the holidays, or just wanting to follow a different path in the new year. While nobody gets married hoping that their marriage ends in divorce, it is, unfortunately, a reality for approximately half of the population in any given year.

Divorce is not always terrible ending. We always tell people that divorce is a legal transaction that involves a “math problem, (aka figuring out who gets what)” and making sure that the children are in the best environment possible; when parties can focus on those two things, not the emotion and drama, everyone is happier.

Some of our favorite cases are divorces because it can bring out the best in people. We see people work together, focus on their children, and follow the path towards an alternative happy ending.  One of our favorite moments ever occurred right after one couple had their Separation Agreement approved by the judge as they hugged and walked out arm in arm. We often see parents make plans to take their children out for dinner together the night that they are divorced to remind their children that they are still a family. While this is not necessarily the norm, it is certainly the ideal.

What else is ideal? Celebrating April 14th as National Ex-Spouse Day.

Whatever winter holidays you chose to celebrate, we wish you a very happy holiday season. As always, please visit our website www.wjslegal.com or call us at (508)319-1529 for more information.