Tag Archives: Condominiums Massachusetts

Condo Due Diligence

27 Apr

Metro®Boston, Publication Date: April 25, 2012
By Attorney George Warshaw

Expanded Content:

Buying a condo? The condo market has heated up. Do you know what to look for – or look out for? Here are a few of the things that you should consider or ask about:

The Budget.

  • Is the budget adequate to cover the operating costs or running at a deficit?
  • Are any Unit Owners more than 30 or 60 days in arrears in monthly payments?
  • Are there any sharp increases in specific expense items?

Reserves.

  • Do reserves meet the Fannie Mae minimums (10% of budget + separate insurance deductible)?
  • Are reserves for improvements and major repairs sufficient?
  • Have there been major increases or decreases in reserves or expense items over time?

Repairs, Improvements and Assessments

  • What repairs are presently planned?
  • Any special assessments or improvements currently in effect, planned or being discussed?

Litigation

  • Is the association involved in any litigation?

Occupancy

  • How many units are owner-occupied or rented?
  • Have there been any sound and noise complaints?

Condo Docs:

  • Verify parking rights, locations and space numbers.
  • Review recorded condo plans. Do they match the present layout of the unitt?
  • What exclusive use rights are assigned to the unit? Who pays for repairs/maintenance for exclusive use areas?
  • Are there restrictions on pets?
  • Are there limitations rentals?

Board of Directors and Unit Owners Meeting Minutes

  • Do the minutes indicate upcoming major repairs, improvements that could result in a special assessment?
  • Do the minutes indicate upcoming increases in fees or charges?
  • Do the minutes indicate problems that you should know about?

My view: ask for two years worth of minutes.

Call or email me if I can be of help in buying or selling your condo, or if you have questions you need answered. metro@warshawlaw.com, 617-262-7800.

 © 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.

DON’T BANK ON IT!

16 Jan

Metro®Boston, Publication Date: January 11, 2012
By Attorney George Warshaw

Imagine. You just sold your house or got a big payday on your job.

You have a check in hand for “real money.” You deposit it at your bank – but then you find out, days after you made your deposit, that you can’t access your money for at least 10 business days!

OMG!

You go back to the bank and yell and scream. If you had known, you would have asked for a bank check from your sale or big payday and deposited it instead.

“Sorry, it wouldn’t have mattered,” you’re told. “Even bank checks have to clear. They’re not the same as cash or a wire transfer.”

If your funds were hung up in the banking system and you needed them to buy a house the next day, where would you be? In default!!!

That’s where your bank matters.

At least one major bank treats any check over $5,000 as a large deposit and takes up to ten business days to clear it – unless, of course, you’re an important client.

And some investment or mutual fund companies take 4 business days to clear checks.

So ask about clear periods before depositing large checks.

Or better yet, have your funds sent by wire transfer. It’s treated as cash as soon as it arrives at your bank.

Next week: Important changes in probate procedures may affect your will.

(c) 2012 George Warshaw.

Would You Like Your Name in the News?

2 Nov

Metro®Boston, Publication Date: November 2, 2011
Expanded content

Lost in this age of the internet is almost any hope of privacy and confidentiality.

I suppose if I won the lottery I wouldn’t mind my name appearing all over the
Boston Globe or the Herald; but I wouldn’t want my name publicized if it came
from the police blotter – or a new home that I bought.

Buy a home, and your neighbors, relatives and fellow employees can read about it in the newspapers. Want them to know how much you paid and the details of your mortgage, you don’t have to say a word. They’ll know in a New York minute!

Real estate transactions are published in many local town or neighborhood newspapers – and appear all over the web!

People who want to protect their personal information from public disclosure can use a number of techniques. Since newspapers report the names of buyers that appear on deeds, the most common privacy technique is to substitute a “Trustfor the buyer’s name on the deed.

Rather than your name appearing on the deed as the new owner, designate a Trust that you own and control instead. If done right, your privacy is protected.

The typical real estate trust is simply a legal device in which a person who is named as trustee follows the directions of the beneficiaries or real owners; i.e. you.

The first step in creating a trust is to choose a name for the trust. The second step, and this is the key for privacy purposes, is to choose a person other than yourself to serve as trustee. It may be a friend, lawyer, accountant or financial advisor.

When the newspaper reports your purchase, it publishes the names of the trust and the trustee – who is someone other than yourself. Privacy is thus protected.

Using a Trust is not without its pitfalls. It can, for instance, make getting a mortgage more difficult, depending on the type of mortgage and the lender you wish to use.

While many banks have no problem providing a mortgage loan where title to a home is held in a trust, mortgage brokers and lenders who sell all their loans often will have a problem. Thus, sensible planning is essential.

If you’re interested in using a trust for your home, contact me. I’ll be glad to help with your real estate or estate planning needs.

 ©2011 George Warshaw. All rights reserved.

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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 at george.warshaw@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. Before making any legal decision, consult an attorney to see how the foregoing may apply to your particular circumstances.

Buttoning Up Your House

19 Oct

Metro®Boston, Publication Date: October 19, 2011
Expanded Content

By Attorney George Warshaw

Winter is approaching and the most vulnerable location of energy leakage and wasted dollars are drafty windows. It may be time to replace them.

To learn about replacement windows I spoke with certified master installer Fred LaCorte, of Climate Door & Window, (781-681-7007; climatedoor@verizon.net).

“For most people the first choice is usually whether to get single, double or triple pane windows. Single pane windows offer little or no energy loss protection. Double and triple pane obviously provide more protection, much in the way adding a thin liner into your winter gloves keeps your hands warmer,” Fred told me.

“Homeowners in choosing a window can increase their energy efficiency and save money in two ways. The first by placing a coating on the window; the second, by using a gas to create an insulation barrier.

“lowE is a coating placed on the glass that reflects radiant warming heat back into the atmosphere during summer months, while allowing the sun’s heat to penetrate into the house during the winter months, thus keeping the house warmer when it’s needed most. It also provides UV protection for furniture and carpets.

“Some double and triple pane windows have a layer of argon gas added between the panes,” Fred explained.  “Gas acts like an installation barrier and prevents heat loss in the winter and air conditioning loss in the summer.”

For the consumer, there are a number of measures that rate windows and decipher the mystery. You should find stickers on the windows that provide numerical information rating the energy efficiency of the glass. The lower the number the better.

Glass is rated by “U” value and a solar value called SHGC (solar heat gain co-efficient). For solar SHGC ratings, look for .35 or below. For U value look for .30 or less.

Here’s an example. Double pane without a lowE glass coating have a U value of about .44; with lowE glass coating around .35. Adding an argon gas barrier to a lowE coating drops the U value to around .30.

Triple pane, with double lowE brings have a value of around .20.

Not all windows are built with the same durable construction. A replacement window typically goes into an existing wood frame and is made of vinyl.  More durable windows are made of a composite, have a more rigid frame, and last longer.

Design Pressure measures the ability of a window to withstand flexing and energy loss due to wind velocity. Design Pressure uses numbers such DP 35, DP 50. The higher the number the better it can withstand stronger winds and flexing.

Lastly, don’t forget insulation. If you’re replacing the usual double hung window that used pulleys and ropes to raise and lower the window, make sure that insulation will be stuffed in the pockets where the ropes were used – otherwise the air will just channel around the window.

Home Depot, Lowe’s or the Independent Company

I’ve found the level of expertise more reliable with smaller, local companies than the big chains that merely offer a list of subcontractors. Smaller companies are more accountable and responsive if you’re unsatisfied with the work that was done.

 © 2011 George Warshaw. All rights reserved.

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George Warshaw is a real estate attorney, estate planner and author. He represents buyers and sellers of homes and condos in Massachusetts, and prepares wills, trusts, prenuptial agreements and estate plans. George welcomes new clients and questions at george.warshaw@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. Before making any legal decision, consult an attorney to see how or if the foregoing may apply to your circumstances.

Problems in Margaritaville

30 Apr

Metro® Boston, Publication Date: February 2, 2011

By Attorney George Warshaw 

Recently, the Boston Globe ran a story on nightmares that people can experience in owning a condo in a small building. The gist of the story is that one miserable owner can make everyone’s life a living hell. 

While it doesn’t happen often, it happens often enough to require your attention as a buyer. 

So how can you ferret out a problem situation before you buy? These answers are not perfect; but perhaps this will help. 

Oddly enough, the first thing to do is ask. Ask the seller and especially the property manager (or one of the condo trustees) if everyone gets along, and about conflict and complaints. Inquire whether there has been any past litigation or mediation in the last three years. 

As a buyer, it’s important to review the minutes of meetings of the unit owners and condo trustees. Conflict will often be evident – or gleaned – from the notes of the meetings. View at least 3 years’ worth of meeting minutes.

Look over the budget carefully. Have there been any expenditures for legal fees in the last three years?

If you find yourself as an owner in one of these situations, it may be best to bring matters to mediation or arbitration and get them resolved – sooner rather than later! © 2011 George Warshaw. 

The foregoing is not intended as legal advice. Consult an attorney to see how or if the foregoing applies to you.

Attorney George Warshaw represents buyers and sellers of homes, condos and investment properties and prepares wills and trusts for inheriting real estate. George welcomes new clients and questions at  george.warshaw@warshawlaw.com.