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Recent Posts in Real Estate & Property Law Category

  • Was Diogenes Searching for Insurance?

    By now you have noticed a didactic pattern in these articles: I try to leave you with a little something that will add to your day if your day has anything to do with real estate. This article is no different. The way I get property insurance is by calling my insurance agent and saying something like… “this is the property, give me your best price…(after a pause) please.” I might then hint that ...
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  • You Want to do What?

    I once had a woman call me who introduced herself by saying, “I am the smartest person you have spoken to all day!” Fortunately, someone who introduces herself like that isn’t looking for a response. I didn’t know what to say. I thought maybe she had been asked to lead the discussion group at a Mensa meeting. Instead, she had closed the book on another day of buying and then reselling foreclosed ...
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  • Of What Commodity Can It Truly Be Said, "You Will Never Have Enough"?

    This article has been written 3 times. The first draft talks about “Stand Your Ground Law”, and the second about life in a Florida high rise condominium. Both articles are on the cutting room floor, having been squeezed out by the urgency of the message presented here. Before I begin, let me say thanks, again to my friends in the rental business for their kind encouragement of these articles. ...
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  • More On Saying What You Mean

    OK. They have not told me to stop, so I take up my quill, again. Last month we talked about why Realtors and Lawyers should not start with a form, fill in the blanks, and ship it out to do its business. That form will be a child in an adult world. One of last month’s examples of misuse of a legal form was the preprinted provision that the written agreement is complete, when clearly it is not. That ...
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  • Careful What You Say, Someone May Believe You

    These words are about something not likely to do you any good – unless you are among those who write contracts for a living, or read them- and then only if the only thing on TV is the “Kardashians”. But if you have enough wine for something not often contemplated, this is for you. I’ve improved my talent for reading non-verbal clues. I’m now up to about 15% accuracy in deciphering what you really ...
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  • Let No House Be Left Behind

    Until a year or so ago, I never gave much thought to zombies. Because of late night television, I’ll know what it is when I see one. They used to be human. When the human is gone they get deformed and ugly and they are called “zombies”. Houses in foreclosure are zombie real estate. The owner expects to lose title to the house, and there is not one reason, once that is inevitable, to make another ...
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  • When They Tell You It's Urgent

    This article recounts a real estate scam. I describe it here because it is new, at least to me, and because this is one of the ways people will try to steal your money. The story starts a visit I got from someone older than I. Those of you who know me realize that is a rapidly declining sliver of the population. This man owned some property, was reasonably well-informed about what he owned, and ...
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  • What Do Music And Real Estate Have In Common?

    Last week I was asked whether a parcel of land could be legally isolated such that it has no access at all. I got so wrapped up with the exceptions to the rule that I blew it with the answer. This article is to make amends and at the same time make a bigger point about easement rights in property. The rule is that property can’t be isolated from the rest of the world such that its owner can’t get ...
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  • Why Do You Need a Realtor?

    This is a story of a guy, a senior at the University of Florida, who wanted me to help him cheat on a test. Before we get through this article, I’ll tell you what happened and why, and the lesson learned. But in the meantime, I want you to know what should happen if you sell residential real estate in Florida, and how your real estate broker will help you. The law requires the Seller to reveal ...
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  • Confusion is the Enemy

    Because we do both real estate and estate work, we sometimes have clients who are elderly. This is one real estate lawyer who went through a phase as a psychologist. Please don’t be impressed. There were many phases and in none of them was I either well paid or steller. But I do have an interest in psychology. One thing I see very frequently among older owners and clients is indecision. I know, ...
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  • What's Wrong With My Lawyer?

    I have been asked countless times to make a deed to “just give back” someone’s property to the bank. The question implies that if I simply knew a little more about real estate I could, like Elizabeth Montgomery, just wriggle my nose and make it go away. Real Estate professionals know that acceptance is a necessary element of a valid deed. There are others, of course, and acceptance is generally ...
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  • Donating Real Estate to Charity

    The economic downturn hit local charities particularly hard. Many people have also been left holding real estate that no longer has the allure it did at the height of the real estate bubble. Donating real property offers many advantages, but it is important to consider the tax ramifications before you make such a gift. If you give real property to a public charity, like a church or school, you are ...
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  • A Christmas Wish

    For years I have written this article intending that it be helpful and readable. The few comments I receive convinces me that I often miss on one or both intentions. I hope this article is readable, but because of the subject, I’ve given up on helpful. It recites only my dismay at what we’ve done in business and real estate. The generation that included my parents never forgot the great ...
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  • Why "Collateralized" And "Securitized" Are Not The Same

    Last week I got a call from a real estate advisor who wanted help working out a troubled mortgage. I asked him whether the mortgage was” securitized”? Right away he assumed that I knew nothing about mortgages, because he said, “of course it’s securitized, I’ve already said we need help with a mortgage”. Clearly he thought that since a mortgage is involved, the loan is “securitized”. Because the ...
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  • Surprise is Not for Real Estate Investment

    Here’s the setting: A young couple want to live in a rural setting. They buy 10 acres in the year 2000, build a house on their property, and expect that, with more population and more urban expansion, their investment will one day have been a great, forward-thinking idea that grows in value. I’d love to be able to write a funny article, or sometimes even a fun article, about investments in real ...
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  • One More Way We Depend on Each Other

    This article arises out of a real estate closing package. “A” was buying a piece of property from “B”. A received a title policy that had an express exception for “any encroachment shown on an accurate survey of the property”. No title underwriter wants to be responsible for the owner who decides not to spend the money on a survey. They want the owner to be responsible if he decides to waive the ...
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  • Condominium Boat Docks are a Special Breed of Cat

    Every real estate lawyer knows that because you know real estate, you don’t necessarily know condominiums. For instance, condominiums have a special category of real estate called a “limited common element”. A limited common element is typically a piece of a condominium property which is used solely and only by one condominium unit. It is not “common area”, and it is not part of a “unit”, it is ...
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  • The EMD - Is There "Skin In The Game"?

    Realtors know that the “EMD” is the earnest money deposit required in a contract. It is the amount put down at the time a contract is signed. Contrary to usual dogma, there is no legal requirement for an EMD at all. However, the Florida Association of Realtors (FAR) contract form, the one normally used by brokers in this area, creates three reasons anyone interested in making sure a contract is ...
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  • Only God Can Make a Tree

    We all have something we think of as off-the-scale good. I have several. One of them is trees. I have planted them, moved them, and fretted over them when they died. I have not yet talked to them, but I do listen from time to time. But what happens when trees go bad? Specifically, we are coming into the hurricane season and the trees in your yard may come down. If they come down in your own yard, ...
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  • What Does the American Indian Teach the 21st Century?

    I’ve just finished reading parts of Howard Zinn’s history of the United States. His history is different from any you will ever read. Some of it may be documented well enough to be taken seriously. He tells the story of the American acquisition of Indian lands. Some agents, he says, simply loaned them money, not because they cared whether the Indians needed money, but because they believed the ...
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  • When Should You File a Lawsuit?

    [This month’s article is colored by having just finished two of the best written novels I’ve read in many years. One is The Rent Collector , by Cameron Wright. The other is Mary Coin , by Marisa Silver. Both talk about real estate in a broad sense, but more, by far, about human existence in markets none of us ever want to know. The books are available at a wonderful little book store in Niceville ...
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  • Rental Management Is Good Business, Until It Isn't

    Several years ago I wrote an article called “The Rental Manager Will Be King”. I really meant that, and by and large, it has come true. There are more rental units on the market today than ever before, and the management of those units has become ever more legalistic, complicated, and more lucrative. As a result, there are more professional rental managers. This article addresses some ideas to ...
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  • A Method Made For the Moment

    I’ve paid off a few mortgages in my life. Watching the amortization schedule speed up toward the end is a wonderful thing. I’ve never had enough money in an account to feel like I need do nothing but watch the interest accumulate, but I know it must feel great. Like being way ahead in a basketball game and watching the clock run down, you only have to stay vertical till the clock runs out. Here’s ...
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  • Who Comes To Closing?

    That depends. How much do you really want to create valid conveyances and mortgages? The reason you pick title companies and law offices that know what they are doing and take seriously their duties as the referee on any transaction is that the buck stops right there. Here’s one of the most vexing challenges that most people never give a second thought: Today’s state laws allow all kinds of ...
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  • The Mortgage Modification Myth

    A previous article showed a diagram of the homogenization of a mortgage – a process called “securitization.” From the comments I received I am convinced that the subject makes most eyes glaze over with confusion, unless the look is boredom. In either event I’m convinced that though this subject is not one for the innocent, is too important to ignore. A friend recently called for someone in his ...
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