Tag Archives: Real Estate Massachusetts

How to Setup a Security Deposit Account

20 Nov

By Attorney George Warshaw
MetroBoston Publication Date: November 20, 2013

 

There’s more to it than you may think.

First, the account has to be set up within 30 days of when the security deposit is paid, and the tenant given notice of the account within that 30 days period.

Second, it must be placed in a bank located in Massachusetts. You can’t use Fidelity to hold the money and you can’t deposit it in another state.

So you can’t set it up at Bank of America in New Hampshire or Citizens in Rhode Island. The account branch has to be located in Massachusetts.

Most banks have what they call security deposit accounts; basically a savings or escrow account that pays interest. Usually the name of the account identifies it by the words “Tenant’s Security Deposit Account” or some variation.

I use TD Bank. TD has a special Security Deposit Account Agreement that complies with the law. Five other banks I surveyed don’t use any special agreement. Therefore, I can’t tell if the account just sounds nice or actually complies with the legal requirements.

Last, landlords have to give tenants notice about the account every year. Make it easy on yourself. Have the printed monthly bank statement sent directly to the tenant. They get the info required and you can always access it online.

 

© 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 Interest Due on Last Month’s Rent?

9 Oct

MetroBoston Publication date October 9, 2013
By Attorney George Warshaw 

Many landlords choose to require a last month’s rent rather than a security deposit under the belief that there is less risk and no liability with a last month’s rent.

That’s very true with one exception: a landlord still has to pay the tenant interest on the amount of the last month’s rent.

Yes, that’s right. It’s a common misconception that interest is only payable on a security deposit and not on the last month’s rent.

The tenancy statute is very clear. A tenant is entitled to interest at the annual rate of 5% on the amount paid as last month’s rent with one exception.

A landlord may avoid paying the 5% rate if the landlord escrows the money in an interest-bearing account bank account. In that case the tenant only receives the interest earned in the account.

In calculating the number of months that interest is due, the landlord doesn’t have to pay interest for the very last month of the tenancy, since that is the month for which the last month’s was taken and presumably used.

If a landlord takes a last month’s rent and a security deposit, the tenant is entitled to interest on both, payable at the end of each year of the tenancy.

© 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.

 

Thoughts on Charitable Giving

20 Mar

MetroBoston Publication Date March 20, 2013
By Attorney George Warshaw

I was speaking with Mark at the U.C. about this column. He asked me to write about how charitable giving may be used with an estate plan.

Interesting question.

Money you leave by will, trust or otherwise to an IRS tax qualified charity is not included in your estate at death. If your estate is worth $1,250,000 and you leave $250,000 to a qualified charity, your estate is then valued at $1,000,000.

More interesting is what you can do with your charitable estate.

If you want to leave all or a chunk to charity, and possibly avoid even the Massachusetts estate tax problem, you could establish a private tax qualified foundation in which your friends and family participate in making donations to causes that are important to you.

Once or twice a year friends and family get together, remember you in their thoughts and hearts, and do something good with your money and memory. They could use it where it’s needed most – and certainly more efficiently than our spendthrift government.

It’s also a good way of keeping your family together and doing something positive “as a family” with a great result.

There are also Charitable Funds, like Fidelity runs, where they decide how your money is used, or you can direct it yourself in your will or trust.

Say you want to help children or pets. I’ll use the MSPCA and Tenacity, my personal favorites, as examples.

MSPCA, www.mspca.org. You can leave a specific amount of money in your will or trust (a “bequest” in legal talk) or you can target a specific program.

For example, “I give and devise to MSPCA $________ [or _____% of my net estate] for its “Pet Care Assistance Program for the medical care of sick or injured animals.”

Tenacity, www.tenacity.org. Tenacity changes the lives of inner Boston city kids. They learn to play tennis but only after the student and family make a multi-year learning commitment. The kids receive structure, discipline and educational assistance from elementary school through high school. Tennis is the motivator to enroll.

Aside from a bequest, you can give all or a portion of the residue of your estate (i.e. after payment of all debts and bequests.)

For example, “I leave the rest and residue of my estate (or a percentage) to Tenacity to sponsor as many children as possible in its “Middle School Academy.”

Plan it in advance with the charity or just surprise them in your will!

And don’t forget Tenacity and the MSPCA in your planning – helping children and pets is a good thing to do. © 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.

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.

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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.

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.

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.