Archive | Uncategorized RSS feed for this section

The Buffoons in Washington

16 Oct

MetroBoston Publication date October 16, 2013
By Attorney George Warshaw

Sorry, I just couldn’t let the fiasco pass without comment. I will say at the outset I am a neutral; neither a Democrat nor Republican, thus I am free to pillory them all.

The Republicans proclaimed this crusade about Obamacare, moronically trying to eviscerate it through fiscal blackmail, proclaiming the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional and a failure. Though it may need first aid in the end, it was declared constitutional, like it or not.

When this futile Obamacare strategy ultimately failed, the Republicans then declared the shutdown was really about deficit reduction, not Obamacare.

When that fooled no one, the Republicans reportedly caved on all significant issues thereby succeeding in angering opponents and supporters alike.

Now this made the Democrats in Congress beat their chests, kick dirt on the Republican grave and overreach, demanding more in concessions than they initially desired.

Aside from this “Three Stooges Congressional Comedy Show,” the real problem, in my opinion, is that each side is more possessed with embarrassing each other than doing the well-paid job they were hired to do.

Let us not forget that while others are not getting paid, the political faithful in Congress are cashing their checks and eating quite well; and they kept their exceptional health care plan rather than accepting Obamacare for themselves.

© 2013 George Warshaw.  George Warshaw is a well-known attorney and author. He represents buyers and sellers of homes and condos in Massachusetts, litigates real estate matters, and prepares wills, trusts, and estate plans. George welcomes new clients and questions.  Contact him at metro@warshawlaw.com.

Is Boston’s New Rental Law Enforceable?

20 Sep

MetroBoston publication date September 18, 2013
By Attorney George Warshaw

You’ve probably heard about Boston’s new registration and inspection law.

If you own and rent an apartment or condo in Boston or don’t live in it, you have to register your property with the Inspectional Services Department.

Here are some key details.

  • Registration was due by August 31st. If you haven’t registered you will have to pay a penalty.
  • Every year you will have to renew your registration and pay a small fee.
  • If you, the property owner, don’t live in Massachusetts you have to designate a resident agent.
  • If your children occupy the apartment but you don’t, you still have to register your property.

As part of the registration, the property owner is required to certify that he or she is familiar with a plethora of complex laws and regulations including the State Sanitary Code, Building Code, Student Zoning Code, Lead Paint Standards, Fair Housing Regulations, etc. – and the owner has to certify an intention to comply with them.

Is that possibly legal?

I could not honestly certify familiarity with thousands of pages of regulations and I’ve written a textbook on Massachusetts Landlord-Tenant Law used by lawyers and law schools throughout the state and litigated cases in the Housing Court for 20 years.

Can you be forced to certify what isn’t true? © 2013 George Warshaw.

Marriage and Real Estate

5 Feb

MetroBoston Publication Date February 5, 2013
By Attorney George Warshaw

State law provides married couples a special form of home ownership protection. It’s referred to as a “tenancy by the entirety.” It’s like a joint tenancy but for married couples.

It’s created by simply stating in the deed, “I grant to Dick and Jane, husband and wife (or being a married couple), as tenants by the entirety, the following property . . . .”

What’s special about it?

Real estate acquired under the heading “tenants by the entirety” is similar to a joint tenancy in one sense: if one person dies the other inherits it automatically. A probate court is not required to pass title to the survivor.

Marital property held this way has two special features: first, a creditor of only one spouse cannot seize and sell the marital home so long as it is the principal residence of the other spouse; and second, neither spouse can eliminate the right of the other to inherit the property by merely giving a deed to a child or an outsider.  

There are several exceptions that may make a visit to a lawyer worthwhile. If you acquired your martial home before February 11, 1980 or were originally deeded your home as joint tenants or tenants in common, consult a real estate lawyer to upgrade your ownership. © 2013 George Warshaw.

George Warshaw is a well-known attorney and author. He represents buyers and sellers of homes and condos in Massachusetts, and prepares wills, trusts, and estate plans. George welcomes new clients and questions. Contact him at metro@warshawlaw.com.

 

 

Is it Better to Give than Receive?

17 Jan

MetroBoston Publication Date January 17, 2013
By Attorney George Warshaw

When families get together over the holidays talk often turns to inheriting mom or dad’s house or estate.

Is it better to receive a gift of real estate today or inherit it later? Tax wise, a gift isn’t always the best choice.

When a person dies one’s real estate has to be valued. Let’s say the present market value of the house is $500,000, but mom or dad only paid $100,000 for it.

Give it to your children while you are alive and they are considered to have acquired it at the same price you (mom and dad) paid plus any improvements.

A person who receives a gift steps into the shoes of the giver. If your children acquire the property by gift at the same price or tax basis as mom and dad paid ($100,000) and sell it later for $500,000, they’ve made a profit of $400,000.

If your children inherit it later, on the other hand, the tax law treats it as if your children bought it at its fair market value. Inherit it at $500,000, sell it at $500,000 and they technically made no profit.

Always consult your tax advisor or attorney before gifting real estate. It’s a complicated subject. The above information may not apply you. © 2013 George Warshaw.

George Warshaw is a well-known attorney and author. He represents buyers and sellers of homes and condos in Massachusetts, and prepares wills, trusts, and estate plans. George welcomes new clients and questions. Contact him at metro@warshawlaw.com.

 

 

Is Your Pet Getting Older?

6 Dec

MetroBoston Publication Date December 6, 2012
By Attorney George Warshaw

With the holiday season upon us let us not forget our best friends, the furry four-legged creatures that make our lives so much better.

As happens to us all, our pets are aging. Some are getting senior in life but unlike us, they can’t tell us what’s hurting or what’s going on. I want to tell you about something I learned that I think you might like to know.

I attended a discussion recently at the MSPCA/Angell Memorial Hospital on Aging Pets. I didn’t really want to go because I thought it would bring me to tears, which it did, but I have no regrets.

The discussion was led by noted Veterinarians Joseph Kaye, who spoke about Canine Cognitive Dysfunction – senility, Alzheimer’s and loss of awareness and recognition that also occurs in pets, and Lisa Moses who spoke on Pain Management.

Our pets suffer from the same maladies as we do, but at Angell there are people who can help determine if something is wrong and do something about it. Perhaps most critical is pain management. Angell is one of the few institutions in the world that has a clinic and practice devoted to managing your pet’s pain, whether it be from aging or surgery. They use different approaches and often innovative approaches that are not used or known by many veterinarians.

So this holiday season, if your older pet has been acting discernibly differently than when it was younger, consider getting an evaluation – and don’t forget the best gift you can make this season is a donation to the MSPCA, http://www.mspca.org/donate, or a rescue organization. ©George Warshaw 2012

George Warshaw is a real estate attorney and author. He represents buyers and sellers of homes and condos in Massachusetts, and prepares wills, trusts, and estate plans. George welcomes new clients and questions at metro@warshawlaw.com.

Buckle Your Seat Belts – We’re Nearing the Fiscal Cliff

30 Nov

MetroBoston Publication Date November 28, 2012
By Attorney George Warshaw

By now you’ve heard of the Fiscal Cliff, the latest economic doom and gloom anxiety fostered by the ineptitude of government. The words bring to mind visions of taxpayers being herded like cattle, stampeded down a road that suddenly ends high above the Washington Monument. Kaplunk! Down we all go.

Is disaster around the corner or this just more “talk”?

At the beginning of the new year a number of laws will automatically take effect that are intended to reduce the budget deficit by first, increasing taxes for many and second, cutting spending by the federal government.

Taxes. The temporary tax cuts passed by Democrats and Republicans alike during the Bush presidency will expire on 12/31 and the tax code will revert to what it was years ago. That means higher taxes for many if not most Americans.

Federal Spending. Every agency of government is required to cut its budget by 10% thereby jeopardizing benefit programs and delivery of government services, or so many believe.

The Congressional Budget Office, which is a neutral, unbiased government agency, reported that while the effect of this double down would improve long-term economic growth, it is expected to put us back into a recession.

So buckle your seat belts – and let’s see if our politicians show more common sense this time than last. Well, there’s always prayer! ©2012 George Warshaw

George Warshaw is a real estate attorney and author. He represents buyers and sellers of homes and condos in Massachusetts, and prepares wills, trusts, and estate plans. George welcomes new clients and questions at metro@warshawlaw.com.

Thanksgiving Turkeys

20 Nov

MetroBoston Publication Date November 21, 2012
By Attorney George Warshaw

This Thanksgiving I submit for your consideration my 2012 awards for “Turkey of the Year.”

Turkey of the Year. The United States Senate and Congress, with honors, for showing fearless stupidity in the face of common sense and for putting themselves and their party above the best interests of the people who elected them (but don’t they always do that!).

Without question, these Republican and Democrat butterballs (or butterheads) thought it more important to embarrass the other side in the name of self-righteous indignation that fooled no one. For this they all deserve to share collectively the Turkey of the Year award and be voted out. Unfortunately, too many of them returned to Congress where they will likely embarrass themselves and remain eligible for this award next year.

Runner-up Turkey of the Year. Mitt Romney, for hearing the Democratic Battle Cry of “Millionaires and Billionaires” and trying to prove it correct. One would think a person running for President for more than 8 years would have enough common sense to get rid of his foreign bank accounts a decade ago, delay building a new home with an elevator just for his car, and used his considerable wealth to set up a Bill Gates type of charitable foundation that tried to help people in need. © 2012 George Warshaw.

George Warshaw is a real estate attorney and author. He represents buyers and sellers of homes and condos in Massachusetts, and prepares wills, trusts, and estate plans. George welcomes new clients and questions at metro@warshawlaw.com.

Quitclaim Deeds of property

8 Nov

MetroBoston Publication Date October 07, 2012
By Attorney George Warshaw

When you buy a home in most of Massachusetts you receive at the closing table what is often called a “Quitclaim Deed.” That’s because the deed comes imprinted with the words “Quitclaim Covenants” in it.

But what does it mean?

Quitclaim Covenants are analogous to a limited warranty made by the seller to the buyer about the quality of title or ownership to the property being transferred.

By using the common phrase “I convey to you [my condo or home] located at . . . with Quitclaim Covenants” – or words to that effect, the seller guarantees that at the time the deed is passed across the table the property is free from liens and encumbrances placed on it by the seller.

Mortgages, property taxes, water and sewer charges, and condo fees are liens on a property until they are paid.

So if a mortgage was granted by the seller and a release of that lien was not recorded on or before the time of sale, the seller remains responsible to obtain it even after the property is sold.

That’s important because in Massachusetts the age old rule of “Buyer Beware” is still alive. Once the deed is accepted by a buyer, the buyer’s ability to sue the seller later becomes more limited and difficult. © 2012 George Warshaw.

George Warshaw is a real estate attorney and author. He represents buyers and sellers of homes and condos in Massachusetts, and prepares wills, trusts, and estate plans. George welcomes new clients and questions at metro@warshawlaw.com.

 

Moving On

5 Sep

MetroBoston, Publication Date September 05, 2012
By Attorney George Warshaw

It’s that time of year again. Moving trucks clog the streets as new tenants move into apartments and condos and old tenants move out.

Moving also triggers a rash of questions. Here are the short answers to the most common questions.

New Tenants. A landlord cannot charge more than a first month’s rent, last month’s rent, a month security deposit, and a reasonable key and lock deposit at the inception of your rental. A pet deposit is nothing more than a security deposit. It cannot be charged in addition to a full month’s security deposit. A move-in or move-out fee is also not permitted.

A landlord has 30 days to put a security deposit in a proper escrow account and give you proper notice of the details of the deposit. A landlord who fails to comply with key parts of the security deposit law forfeits the right to hold your deposit.

Vacating Tenants. A landlord has 30 days to return your security deposit. If the landlord deducts for damage to the apartment, the landlord must provide you with a letter, signed under the penalties of perjury, itemizing the damages and the costs of repair. The landlord must also provide you with receipts for any money paid for repairs.

Good luck on the move!  © 2012 George Warshaw.

George Warshaw is a real estate attorney and author. He represents buyers and sellers of homes and condos in Massachusetts, and prepares wills, trusts, and estate plans. George welcomes new clients and questions at metro@warshawlaw.com.

 

Beware Co-Signing A Loan

22 Aug

MetroBoston, Publication Date August 22, 2012
By Attorney George Warshaw

It’s a common occurrence. Your son, daughter, relative or friend is buying a house or condo and can’t qualify for the loan without help.

He or she asks, or you volunteer, to co-sign the loan. After all, you’ve got good credit and good income and you’re happy to help out.  Problem solved.

But is it a good idea?

Not usually.

When you co-sign a loan you sign on not merely to help; you place your income and more importantly your credit on the line. If the borrower fails to make a payment, it shows up on your credit report – and you become responsible for payments.

If you want to refinance your house or get a car loan, it’s a debt that shows up on your credit report. If you have too much credit outstanding, you may get declined for a loan or may have to pay a higher interest rate – just because you helped someone out.

Google the story of Sibylla Nash (“The Mistake that Plunged My Credit Score 200 Points”) who helped a friend. When the friend missed three payments, Ms. Nash’s credit was ruined – and she had to pay her friend’s mortgage!

So think twice (or three times) before you co-sign a loan – and speak with a lawyer before you do. 

More next week © 2012 George Warshaw

George Warshaw is a real estate attorney and author. He represents buyers and sellers of homes and condos in Massachusetts, and prepares wills, trusts, and estate plans. George welcomes new clients and questions at metro@warshawlaw.com.

 

Mom Strikes Back!

7 Mar

Metro®Boston, Publication Date: March 7, 2012
By: George Warshaw

Last week I wrote about the loving son who filed to evict his 98 year old mother from the home she previously deeded to him. The son gave up!

How can a parent protect one’s home while deeding it, with good intentions, to a child to manage or oversee?

The first caution I must mention is that planning to accomplish one thing for older parents often makes a mess of something else.

For example, you may wish to transfer the deed of a property into a trust for ease of inheritance; the transfer, however, may create an unintended Medicaid planning problem.

To safeguard a parent’s home, one should think twice (or three or four times) before deeding it to one’s children. The loss of control for the elderly Mrs. K almost cost her dearly.

There are several safeguarding techniques I like to use.

A parent can grant the home to a child or relative and reserve a “life estate”; i.e. a right to live in and use the house for one’s life; or place the property into a trust.

If using a trust, it is often valuable to require the consent of a trusted advisor (lawyer, financial planner, etc.) before a trustee can sell or mortgage the house.

More on this Next Week. © 2012 George Warshaw.

George Warshaw is a real estate attorney and author. He represents buyers and sellers of homes and condos in Massachusetts, and prepares wills, trusts, and estate plans. George welcomes new clients and questions at metro@warshawlaw.com.

_________________________________________________________________

Legal Advice: Laws, and court decisions interpreting them, change frequently and this article is not updated as laws change. The content and information contained in this article is neither intended as legal advice nor shall establish an attorney-client relationship.

What’s Most Overlooked in an Offer to Purchase?

27 Feb

Metro®Boston, Publication Date: February 22, 2012
By: George Warshaw

You’re out shopping for a new home. You’re not too worried about getting or needing a loan to finance your purchase.

You submit an offer, it’s accepted, but the appraisal comes in lower than your offer. Can you cancel your purchase or renegotiate the price?

Quite often, no!

Buyers who finance 80% or more of their purchase price have a built-in protection.  The bank will turn you down if the appraisal comes in less than the purchase price.

Borrow more than 80% of the value of the home and the bank has too much risk.  80% LTV (Loan-to-Value) is considered the maximum safe-lending benchmark.

But, if you finance less than 80% of your purchase price, you may have no safety net. Let me explain by example.

Buy a home for $500,000, but request a loan for only $250,000 (i.e. 50% LTV). You may care if the appraisal comes in at $400,000, but the bank won’t. That’s because the appraised LTV is still well below the 80% safe-loan benchmark.

The time to protect yourself is in your offer. Ask your broker or attorney whether your offer should be subject to an appraisal of no less than the purchase price of the house.

It may protect you in the end.

© 2012 George Warshaw.

George Warshaw is a real estate and estate planning attorney in Massachusetts.  He represents buyers and sellers of homes and condos in Massachusetts, and prepares wills, trusts for individuals and families. George welcomes new clients and questions at metro@warshawlaw.com.

_________________________________________________________________

Legal Advice: Laws, and court decisions interpreting them, change frequently and this article is not updated as laws change. The content and information contained in this article is neither intended as legal advice nor shall establish an attorney-client relationship.

New Hub of Young Professionals

22 Jun

Metro®Boston, Publication Date: June 22, 2011

By Attorney George Warshaw

Mention “young professionals” to a real estate agent and it brings images of areas in or near a city, revitalized or re-energized by a surge of younger, city dwellers buying condos, brownstones and single-family homes.

I asked Rodrigo Serrano ((781) 929-7379, rodrigo@rigorealty.com) a realtor and buyer’s broker with REMAX Leading Edge, where many young professionals are buying in today’s market?

“East Arlington and Melrose were discovered a few years ago. It’s the first place where my clients want to look. It’s a combination of price, lifestyle and proximity to Cambridge and Boston.

“East Arlington has a city feel. Buy a condo, walk to stores and restaurants. Melrose is more the affordable, single-family suburban hotspot. While condo and home prices were declining elsewhere, Melrose and East Arlington resisted. They held their value.

“Condos, for example, in East Arlington, sold at an average of $332,532 in 2009. They held their value last year, and increased slightly to $336,916.

“Single-family homes in Melrose increased at a greater rate. In 2009, homes sold on average for $376,459. Last year it increased 4.4% to $392,731.”

If you’re looking for a new home, it sounds like the place to be! © 2011 George Warshaw. All rights reserved.

__________

Buying or selling your home? We represent buyers and sellers of homes and condos throughout Massachusetts. Call or email me at (617) 262-7800, george.warshaw@warshawlaw.com.

George Warshaw
Boston   Hingham   MV/Nantucket