Tag Archives: Real Estate Attorney Massachusetts

DOES RADON SCARE YOU

26 Sep

MetroBoston, Publication Date September 25, 2012
By Attorney George Warshaw

If you own a home, or hope to in the future, you need to know about radon. Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that emanates from rock formations below your home. It comes into the house through the foundation. It causes cancer. 21,000 people will die from it this year.

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer.

Radon can be remediated in the house by installing a relatively inexpensive fan and exhaust system, but people tend to take no action if levels meet the federal safety standard.

The federal radon standard considered “safe” is 4.0 picocuries per liter of air, expressed as 4.0 pCi/L. The federal standard, to me, is a disgrace.

According to the EPA, it is anticipated that out of 1,000 people exposed to radon, the following will likely develop lung cancer:

8.0 pCi/L…..15 nonsmokers or 120 smokers

4.0 pCi/L…….7 nonsmokers or 62 smokers

2.0 pCi/L…….4 nonsmokers or 32 smokers

1.3 pCi/L…….2 nonsmokers or 20 smokers

The risk is approximately 9x greater for smokers at the federal “safe level” of 4.0.

Some consider 7 cancer victims out of a thousand an acceptable number, I don’t; declaring 62 out of a thousand an acceptable number of cancer victims because they are smokers is unconscionable.

More on Radon 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.

Advertisements

FSBO – For Sale By Owner

16 Nov

Metro®Boston, Publication Date: November 15, 2011
By AttorneyGeorge Warshaw

It’s tempting, very tempting.

Sell your home yourself and save the broker’s commission. But is it a false savings?

While people often underestimate the value of a good realtor, nonetheless, some homeowners have sold their homes successfully.

There are two parts of the FSBO process: marketing and legal.

Marketing involves finding a buyer and enticing your buyer to make an offer. Legal is about what’s needed to complete the sale.

MARKETING. You have to know how to price your home. Pricing requires research, time, and going to open houses. That can give you a false sense of price if you only look at properties that haven’t sold; i.e. they’re priced too high.

You may list your property on FSBO websites, Craig’s List, etc., but you’ve limited your market.

No broker is going to bring a client to see a FSBO and many potential buyers are leery of FSBO sales.

Try another approach! Don’t try to save all the commission, just try to save half.

Act as your own real estate agent. Hold an open house. Send out announcements to local brokerages that you’ll cooperate with brokers and pay a buyer’s broker fee of xx%. 

It may be a smart “savings” compromise.

Next week read the legal components of a FSBO.

© 2011 George Warshaw. All Right Reserved.

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 george.warshaw@warshawlaw.com.  

Legal Advice: Laws, and court decisionsinterpreting them, change frequently and this article is not updated as laws change. The content and information contained in this article is neitherintended 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 circumstances.

How to Sell Then Buy a New Home

13 Nov

Metro®Boston, Publication Date: November 8, 2011
By AttorneyGeorge Warshaw

Many real estate attorneys have seen a sharp increase in new purchases these last four weeks. While none of us expect a housing miracle, it’s a good idea to review one simple, basic tenet for those selling their homes or condos and then buying a replacement property.

The most important advice I give clients is, “don’t do it all on the same day.” There’s too much that can go wrong. A delay in your sale could seriously jeopardize your purchase.

There are many things that often happen right before the closing that one extra day can fix. What would you do if a last minute repair is needed, the house isn’t broom clean, a lien is discovered, or the movers
don’t show up – and your buyers refuse to close?

Or as I have more recently experienced, the bank is too busy to get the loan documents to the closing attorney on the day of the closing. Believe it not, it has been happening.

Quite simply, you need to build in a margin for error.

So “sell on one day and buy on the next.” Leave the furniture on the truck overnight if you can. You’ll avoid an elevated heart rate!

© 2011 George Warshaw. All Right Reserved.

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 george.warshaw@warshawlaw.com.  

Legal Advice: Laws, and court decisionsinterpreting them, change frequently and this article is not updated as laws change. The content and information contained in this article is neitherintended 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 circumstances.

Rebuilding Your Credit

13 Oct

Metro®Boston, Publication Date: October 12, 2011
By Attorney George Warshaw

 “I couldn’t get a loan because my credit was lousy.”

 What can you do about it? There are a few simple things that can help. The starting place is your credit report. Get a free copy and see what went wrong, then start to rebuild.

 The first thing is dispute any inaccuracies in the report. Is something on the report that belongs to a person with a similar name? Has something already been paid? Don’t hesitate to challenge the credit bureau or call the creditor directly.

 Second, and I consider this the most important, start paying all your bills on time, especially mortgage and credit cards. There’s an easy way to avoid future late payments.

 Nearly every credit card or mortgage lender allows you to set up an automatic payment method in which money is taken directly out of your bank account by the creditor to pay the bill.

 If you put every credit card on an automatic minimum payment plan with the creditor, you won’t miss a payment! You can always write a check and send in more later when you look at your written statement, but at least you won’t miss a payment!

 Go to the creditor’s website, register, and look for the payment screen. It will solve a lot of problems.

© 2011 George Warshaw. All rights reserved.

__________

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.

Getting Older – The New American Dream

30 Jun

Metro®Boston, Publication Date: June 29, 2011

By Attorney George Warshaw

The economy has changed the way older homeowners view their future.

Many are selling their long-time residence and renting rather than buying a
replacement home. No more mowing the lawn, paying a mortgage and maintaining an aging house. Sell the house, bank the money.

The second home market in a prolonged down economy is usually the first to collapse and the first to present opportunities. Among those who rent their primary residence, many are taking advantage of the depressed market to buy a vacation house.

I spoke about this recently with Jennifer Knight, a REMAX buyer’s broker on Martha’s Vineyard (jennifer@jennifersrealestate.com, (508) 221-2615).

“Tastes and needs have changed. Many who have sold their primary homes still need a place where they can entertain; where friends, children and family can be together, especially in an environment where there is a great deal of life, enjoyment and energy.

“But now they’re buying with cash flow in mind. They’re buying and then renting their Vineyard house for a month or two in the summer. The income from the vacation home rental covers the taxes and possibly operating costs, and they still get to host their family and friends.”

What’s happening on Martha’s Vineyard is not unique as people strive to find a balance between the life style they want or need, and the means to support it.

The prolonged so-called “jobless recovery” has caused many to change their approach to getting older and restructure their personal financial game plan. No one any longer believes that social security will be there for you when you retire.

It’s not simply a matter of the continual rise in the age when you are eligible to receive benefits – obviously they hope you are dead before the government has to pay; rather, the government has “borrowed” most of the money for its day-to-day operating expenses.

The recent debt ceiling crisis revealed that the government raided social security as a loan to be repaid in the future. Now the government needs to raise the debt ceiling to be able to borrow more money to pay its bills and repay social security.

Hmmmm! Perhaps they should consult a financial planner or better yet, I’m sure Bernie Madoff could give them some advice. At least he has experience!

© 2011 George Warshaw. All rights reserved.

__________

George Warshaw is a real estate attorney and legal 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 circumstances.

How Homeowners Make Money Installing Solar Energy

15 Jun

 Metro®Boston, Publication Date: June 15, 2011
Expanded content

By Attorney George Warshaw

In addition to possibly having zero energy costs, there are a number of surprising ways a property owner in Massachusetts makes money by installing solar energy panels – including one way that generates a yearly check!

Tax Credits. Tax credits reduce your income tax. Current IRS rules permit a homeowner to claim a credit of 30% (no max amount) of the cost of purchase and installation of solar energy. Massachusetts provides a similar credit of 15% ($1,000 max) on state income tax.

Cash Rebates. Many towns have a program in which the homeowner receives a cash incentive for installing solar. Concord Municipal Lighting Company, for example, will rebate a buyer at the Riverwalk Condominiums in Concord up to $3,125 depending on the size of the system.

Yearly Income. Massachusetts, like some states, requires the power company generate a minimum percentage of its electrical power to end-users from certain renewable energy sources, such as solar. 

Right now, the power companies can’t generate enough solar power. They make up this deficiency by counting the energy generated by property owners who have installed solar.  The utility companies don’t, however, get to count it for free. They have to buy it each year – from you!

Here’s how. 

A property owner receives one (1) Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (a “SREC”) for each 1,000 kilowatt hours of solar generated power. Generate 10,000 kilowatt hours, get 10 certificates.

According to Steve Weikal (617-596-2777, steve@concordriverwalk.com), solar panels on new condos at Concord Riverwalk  by local solar integrator SunBug Solar (www.sunbugsolar.com) generate between 3 and 6 SRECs, a year, depending on the number of panels installed.

 The power companies compete for these certificates through an auction process. In the most recent auctions, Massachusetts  SRECs have been selling at over $500 each. If you acquired 3-6 certificates through your ordinary use, you would have received between $1,500 to $3,000, less brokerage commissions.

To sell your SRECs, you contact a SREC broker (they’re all over the web). SREC brokers function a lot like Fidelity or Schwab. Instead of selling your stock in Ford or GM, sign up online with a SREC broker and they take it from there.

Buy a solar-powered home, and put money in your pocket! ©2011 George Warshaw. All Rights Reserved.

References

Federal tax credit, http://www.dsireusa.org/incentives/incentive.cfm?Incentive_Code=US37F&re=1&ee=1

Massachusetts tax credit, http://www.dsireusa.org/incentives/incentive.cfm?Incentive_Code=MA06F&re=1&ee=1

Other Massachusetts tax/credit/rebate programs see http://www.dsireusa.org and search for Massachusetts.

See also http://www.srectrade.com/background.php on selling SRECs.

__________

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 george.warshaw@warshawlaw.com.

NetZero Solar Living – Imagine Having No Utility Costs

8 Jun

Metro®Boston, Publication Date: June 8, 2011

By Attorney George Warshaw

Is it possible to live for free, where the cost of heating, air conditioning and the power to run every appliance is generated by the home?

Net Zero” refers to an energy sufficient structure in which the annual energy cost to operate the house or condo is produced by the home’s own mini power plant.

With a solar home, NetZero is reached by “banking” excess electricity generated by the solar panels with the electric company as a credit. The credit pays for electricity drawn from the power company in periods of intensive usage.

To reach NetZero efficiency, the amount of energy you bank annually approximately equals the amount you draw.

I toured a 13 unit NetZero condo project under construction in Concord, Massachusetts – the “Concord Riverwalk.” Each condominium is built as a self-contained cottage style structure with its own solar power plant. Owners share gardens, walkways, garage parking and other common areas.

Each house generates energy through solar panels installed on the south side of the roof, and saves energy through “green” construction techniques that eliminate air infiltration and seepage, i.e. energy loss.

Contact Steve Weikal (617-596-2777, steve@concordriverwalk.com) for more info.

Next week, the economics of solar – get cash back and credits from a number of sources.

© 2011 George Warshaw. All rights reserved.

__________

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 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 circumstances.