Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Right of First Refusal Continues to be an Issue for Condominium Associations, Buyers and Sellers
9:16 pm cdt
I recently had a client who was attempting to short sale his property in order to avoid foreclosure.
He had a ready, willing and able buyer. He had short sale approval from the bank. But, the buyer was attempting to do an FHA
loan, and his Association had the right of first refusal. The buyer and my client spent two months trying to convince the
Association to file the documents to get rid of the right of first refusal. The Buyer's attorney even drafted the Amendment
free of charge. But the Association could not muster up the votes to pass the Amendment, and the deal fell apart. My client
will lose his property in foreclosure as a result.
So what happens if you are one of the
parties involved in a deal like this? It's difficult to justify retaining a right of first refusal in an Association that
they are likely never to exercise.
First of all, to exercise the right of first refusal,
the board of directors must first choose to purchase the available Unit at the price offered by the Seller. Then it must obtain
anywhere from two-thirds to three-fourths of the unit ownership. If the Unit Owners approve, then the Board must either pay
cash for the property, or obtain financing to purchase. Given the process that it takes, Associations very rarely ever exercise
the right of first refusal.
I have not experienced it first hand in my practice, but I
do know of some larger high rises who have exercised it in the past. The instances that I know of were to avoid a Unit to
go into foreclosure, and most often, the Unit purchased was then used for the benefit of the Unit Owners (i.e. a place for
Mom and Dad to stay when they come to town, etc.)
I am hearing rumors that FHA is currently
working on lessening these restrictions to make it easier for FHA buyers, but I have not seen anything come through yet...stay
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
First Time Homebuyer Credit Questions and Scenarios
1:43 pm cdt
I've had a lot of clients ask me details about the first time homebuyer credit and various scenarios.
While I still recommend that you talk with a qualified accountant before making an decisions, I do have some interesting scenarios
taken directly from the IRS website regarding this credit as below:
S1. If a single person
(Taxpayer A) qualifies as a first-time homebuyer at the time he/she purchases a home with someone (Taxpayer B) that is not
a first-time homebuyer and then later that year they marry each other, is the credit still allowed?
for the first-time homebuyer credit is determined on the date of purchase. If Taxpayer A, a first-time homebuyer, buys a house
and then later that year marries Taxpayer B, not a first-time homebuyer, the credit is allowable to Taxpayer A. Taxpayer A
may take the maximum credit.
S2. Taxpayer A is a single first-time home buyer. Taxpayer B (parent) cosigns for
A and does not qualify. Both names are on the mortgage. Can Taxpayer A claim the credit and, if so, how much?
A. Yes. Taxpayer B is not a first-time homebuyer and cannot claim any portion of the credit, but A may claim the entire credit
($7,500 for purchase in 2008; $8,000 for purchase in 2009), if the home was purchased as Taxpayer A's primary residence.
For more scenarios, you can click here.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Do I Need an Attorney for a Refinance?
12:24 pm cdt
I have been getting quite a few calls from clients lately asking if they need representation on refinance.
My answer is "no", it's not really customary for one to have an attorney for a refinance, but at the same time,
I am happy to give counsel to clients who have questions about the refinancing process. I have also been present at the request
of a few clients for a refinance and that is fine, too.
A few tips that I always give
clients are as follows:
1) Make sure you receive and review a good faith estimate from
your lender. Make sure that your mortgage broker clearly explains all fees to you (or call a real estate attorney for help).
2) Make sure that at the refinance closing/signing, you pay careful attention to the Note and the Mortgage.
The Note governs the terms of the loan. Make sure if you're expecting a 30-year fixed loan that there are no Adjustable Rate
Riders. Make sure if you're expecting a 5.5% rate that the front page of the Note clearly states this rate.
3) Make sure that there are no prepayment penalties if you are not expecting them. On your "Truth in
Lending" document the box that indicates that there is no prepayment penalty should be checked.
always happy to review documents or answer questions for clients if they are involved in a refinance.
Friday, June 19, 2009
A Really Interesting Website - Crib Chatter.com
9:01 pm cdt
I had a closing the other day and while we were waiting for funding, we started talking about a building
that another client was purchasing in. The other client had asked me to ask around for feedback on the building, developer,
After the closing, my client I was sitting in the closing with sent me an e-mail with
a link to CribChatter.com, with some very useful information about the building that I was asking about.
has some very interesting pieces on what's on the market, what is going on in the market, etc.
Split Block Construction Issues Becoming More Prevalent
4:39 pm cdt
Will Decker, a home inspector that I use and recommend, and I were both interviewed for a piece that
Chicago Public Radio did on split block construction and all of the issues that Chicago condominium owners are having with
it in their buildings. Split block is concrete block with a brick face, and if it not installed with flashing and weep wicks/holes
and sealed properly, it can become a moldy, wet mess for homeowners.
I have represented
a couple of condominium associations with these issues, and am seeing many more on the horizon.
more about Will Decker, visit his website at www.deckerhomeservices.com. For more information on this issue and to see the article itself, click here.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Right of First Refusal Still An Issue with Condo Associations, Sellers and Buyers
12:16 pm cdt
I'm still getting a flood of calls and e-mails regarding the right of first refusal in condominium
associations. Even with existing owners who want to refinance into an FHA loan, it is still a problem. If you have an issue
with the right of first refusal within your condominium association, I'm happy to help!
in mind, though, that this process takes time. First, you have to have enough votes to approve the removal of the right of
first refusal. Then, depending on the Declaration, you have to either get all lien holders (mortgage companies) approval,
and then prepare and record the Amendment. This can take a month or more.
For more information,
please contact my office. I am happy to have a free consultation with you about how I can help.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Credit Scores More Important Than Ever
10:15 pm cdt
I've blogged a lot about credit scores and their importance over the last few months. This weekend
I was in Minnesota for my sister Hannah's graduation from Carleton College and while I was there, I picked up a Star-Tribune,
the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro newspaper. The front page story was entitled, "Hard Times Make Credit Score Key".
You can click here for the full story, but basically the gist of it is this: Americans' credit scores are being hard-hit by foreclosures, short
sales, late payments and more. Million of consumers have overwhelming credit card debt, and the average household's credit
card debt is now $8,565, which is up almost 15 percent from 2000.
This trend could become
a vicious circle - lenders don't want to lend to people with bad scores, yet it will become impossible to help build your
credit score if you can't get a loan.
If you don't know your own credit score, find it
out. Look carefully at the report and see if it's accurate. Many credit reports have inaccuracies that can hurt your score.
On an average $20,000, 36-month car loan, a credit score of 720-850 can help save on the payment and interest
rate. The average going rate would be 5.961%, which translates to a monthly payment of about $608.
that credit score to 690-719, and we are talking a rate of 7.397% and a payment of $621.
even further down to 660-689, and the rate goes to 8.824% and a payment of $634.
score of between 659-620 will get you 11.649% and a payment of $661.
A credit score of
590-619 gets 15.512% with a payment of $698 and finally, credit of 500-589 gets an astronomical 16.398% and a payment of over
$100 more than the top credit score, at $707.
Everyone checks credit these days,
from landlords, to utility companies, to even future employers. Don't let your credit score drop, especially in these difficult
You can get your credit score for a small fee at one of these four places:
FICO: www.myfico.com or 866.406.7204 - cost is $15.95
Equifax: www.equifax.com or 800.685.1111 - cost is $15,95
Experian: www.experian.com or 866.200.6020 - cost is $15
TransUnion: www.transunion.com or 800.888.4213 - cost is $18.95
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Mr. Nitz Buys a Car - Good Press for One of My Clients
10:01 am cdt
A client and friend of mine, Daryl Nitz, is a teacher out in Glenview. He was in the market to buy
a new car, so he made it a class project for his fifth grade class. The process that they went through was a great learning
experience for his kids, and the Pioneer Press in the Glenview Announcements section did a great article on the experience,
as copied below:
"When it came to buying a new car, Glen Grove School teacher Daryl
Nitz didn't have to ask himself whether he was smarter than a fifth-grader.
over the decision-making process -- including the sales pitch and financing options -- to his fifth-grade accelerated math
"I'm not going to be disappointed and I'm going to be driving a good car,
because they're informed consumers and they're making that decision just like I could do," Nitz said.
The classes started with Nitz's four parameters: a $20,000 price limit, a decent stereo system, a sun roof
and a cool color.
They whittled down the 30-car field to eight, using research and data
from Consumer Reports magazine.
Nitz test drove the eight cars over a weekend, and chose
the four he liked best.
The four dealers were invited to bring their cars -- a Hyundai
Elantra, a Mazda 3, a Toyota Matrix and a Honda Fit -- to Glen Grove May 27. The Honda salesman was a no-show, but the other
three showed up, and the students drilled them for the pertinent facts, from engine size to dynamic stability control to USB
"I can honestly say it was one of the toughest hard sells I've ever had,"
Patrick Datt from Autobarn of Evanston said. "I've never sold to 50 children before."
students raised their hands and waited to be called on before asking their questions, but that didn't throw Dean Maruyama
from Grossinger Toyota in Lincolnwood off his game.
"I really tried to be as professional
as possible. I think they appreciated it as well to understand what the true facts on the car are," Maruyama said. "Fifth-graders
have a lot of great questions and you've got to treat them as adults when talking to them about something like this."
Rich Margaritondo from Loren Hyundai in Glenview had done his homework. He tailored his
presentation to include a green plastic blow-up gator, aware that it was the school's mascot.
guy was really cool. I liked the sales pitch," an impressed Nathan Meier said, "but I liked the (Mazda) better."
Anna Madsen was on the Elantra research team, and Margaritondo's answers bolstered her
original findings about the model.
"I don't find any fault with it yet," she
said. "I think it has a real good consumer rating and a good mph. It has a 33 highway (rating), so I really like it."
The classes narrowed the choice to two, and the students then compared financing options.
Through the Glenview Credit Union, Nitz was told he could get an interest rate of 5.87
percent for 36 months or just over 6 percent for 72 months.
"I want to show the
kids how when you go up that point on the interest, that you end up paying ... $2,000 more or $3,000 more to carry that for
another year," he explained.
"When I was a kid, nobody sat down and explained
to me (what that meant) in the long run. They're smart enough to get this. They're smart enough to be able to choose a good
Earlier this week, the students delivered their verdict: the Elantra in the
"purple rain" color. Margaritondo delivered the car to the school Tuesday.
though I voted for the Mazda 3, I'm not upset at all. It's an awesome car," Mark Galperin said when the students came
outside to see it.
Along with the sale, Margaritondo thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
"If everybody buys a car, I'll be all set," he joked."
See photos and the actual article by clicking here and see the video by clicking here.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Appraisals Becoming an Issue with Some Real Estate Deals
12:28 pm cdt
There's been a few deals I've been working on where the property has not appraised for the selling
price. One in particular had the sales price significantly lower than the selling price.
is becoming more and more common in the current real estate environment. Some appraisers are now becoming extremely conservative
in their appraisal methods and some are even being accused of trying to get guess how much more the market is going to drop,
not looking at how it may rebound.
Especially hard hit is Nevada, where real estate practicioners
say that the too-conservative appraisals are affecting sales and preventing recovery.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
More on the First Time Homebuyer's Tax Credit
8:44 pm cdt
FHA has announced a deal to 'monetize' the tax credit for first time homebuyers depending on the
mortgage amount, but it's not yet available from FHA lenders in Illinois. The Illinois Association of Realtors (IAR) is currently
working with the Illinois Housing Development Authority to determine the feasibility of developing such a program that can
be used in conjunction with an FHA mortgage loan. The tax credit applies to qualifying home purchases made by first-time
homebuyers on or after Jan. 1, 2009 and before Dec. 1, 2009. Read the Mortgagee Letter 2009-15 regarding the monetization program released by HUD last week.
Home Price Decline Slowing
8:55 am cdt
Signs that the real estate market decline is slowing are here! According the Crain's Chicago Business'
June 1 issue, single family home prices in the Chicago area are forecast to drop 6.1% this year, which would be the third
straight yearly decline, but much less severe than the year before. The market is expected to stabilize next year with a dip
of only about 0.4%, and if prices do drop 6.1% this year, that would bring the median price in Chicago down to $247,000, the
lowest since mid-2004.
The biggest drop happened last year, when prices fell 13%. The
hardest hit neighborhoods were the low-income city neighborhoods and close-in suburbs where there was a lot of subprime lending
The three hardest-hit towns were Oak Lawn (-22.3%), Burbank (-21.5%) and Berwyn
(-19.5%). In the city, the biggest losers were on the South Side. Single family homes in Chatham dropped 39.9%. Auburn-Gresham
dropped 37.8% and South Shore dropped 37.2%. Wealthier areas like Lincoln Park, prices only dropped about 2.7% and seemed
to have stabilized.