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Blog Posts in 2013

  • 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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  • Riddle Me This: When Can A House Never Be A Home?

    A townhouse in Florida is a unit in a building with one or more floors located on a parcel of land in which fee simple title to the land is conveyed with each unit. The unit is like a slice of bread in a loaf. It differs from a condominium, although often they look exactly alike. A townhouse is most often documented under Chapter 720 of the Florida Statutes. A condominium normally has no land ...
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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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