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Recent Posts in Professionalism Category

  • If a Lawyer can't help his friend, who can he help?

    By now you know the setting for this question. Robert owns a parcel which he uses for both residential and commercial purposes. The buildings have serious structural deficiencies that are not obvious to one not familiar with the property, but that Robert and his friends know very well. His circle of friends includes a real estate broker and a lawyer. Robert wants to sell the property to get away ...
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  • What Must A Realtor Disclose, And Why?

    Remember from my last article that the law provides that a seller of Residential Property must disclose unknown defects to a purchaser. The facts were that Robert lives on a parcel that has a small bait and tackle shop and his residence, located on the River. Robert has lived and worked on the property for many years. You are his Realtor, and has been your friend for many years. He has grown tired ...
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  • Your Everyday, Garden Variety, Riddle for Lawyers

    Robert lives on a parcel that has a small bait and tackle shop and his separate residence, located on the Choctawhatchee River. Robert has lived and worked on the property for many years, and has been your friend for many years. He has grown tired of resurrecting the property annually because the river floods, damaging both buildings and the land. He does such a good job repairing the damage that ...
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  • What We Do Is Who We Are

    One day in a certain place a real estate closing happened. This story is about what went wrong in that closing, why it matters who closes your purchase, and about who is at risk when a closing goes wrong. The closing is scheduled for 9:00. At that hour everything is laid out on the table for closing, but a boundary survey has not been received. The property to be conveyed is acreage located at the ...
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  • The Power Of Pattern

    Some years ago, I objected to a person’s discharge in bankruptcy on the ground that he had committed fraud in submitting his credit application. The application was submitted to the creditor on a pre-printed form that had lines for revealing all debts at the time the loan was made. When applying for credit he revealed two or three debts only, but when the note was not paid, he produced a financial ...
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  • A Riddle for the Ages

    I have taught Real Estate to hundreds of real estate brokers and agents in Okaloosa and Walton Counties. Some of my students occupy positions at the top of their profession, and others are nowhere to be found. Some are no longer with us. Others never entered the business, and some did not even finish the class. The question I have asked myself, and now I share with you, is: How can you tell which ...
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  • Hell in a Very Small Space

    Because some zoning ordinances permit a greater number of condominium units per acre than townhouses, even though there is no structural difference, several years ago developers rushed to use small shards of property within city blocks to build tiny condominiums. My plea to planning officials everywhere is that the laws, regulations, and personalities involved in a condominium are so complex that ...
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  • What is a "Professional"?

    In truth, I don’t know. But there are a few things I do know, that I thought I’d share because in this surprising economy I wonder whether there is a place left for someone who conducts his enterprise not just to pay the mortgage, but who seems motivated by something more lasting. Like the Supreme Court that can’t define the word, but they know it when they see it, I can define only by example. I ...
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  • Cut Your Losses - Carefully

    I spent time in a professional office last week, waiting for someone to do embarrassing things. During the exam I was asked, for about the millionth time in the last 18 months, what to do about over-financed real estate. The answer to that question sounds so simple you’ll think I’m making this up. I’m not. See your lawyer, now. Here’s the setting for the question. The person said, just like many, ...
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  • I Sell Title Insurance

    I sell title insurance. Some people don’t like to say they “sell” for a living, much less that their product is title insurance. I sell title insurance. I “sell” it because I believe in it. Selling is explaining. Selling is providing information relative to the good points of the product. Selling is providing peace of mind. I sell title insurance. I do not hang my head and apologize for selling ...
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  • The Dogs Bark, but the Caravan Keeps Rolling

    Last month I took the deposition of an independent mortgage broker who did business in our area until a couple of years ago. This broker is indicative of a breed of participant in our business. All came in for the good times, in title insurance, real estate, and finance, and almost all are gone now. I learned that this particular broker’s office did business in a large room, divided into cubicles ...
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  • Use Your Attorney

    Notice I did not say heed your attorney, or even believe your attorney . and I certainly did not say abuse your attorney. I do want you to use your lawyer, and here’s why… The problem that prompts this advice comes from a young couple (they could be old) who own a home. They are required to relocate. Because of today’s market, they can’t sell the house for an amount that pays off the mortgage, and ...
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  • Beyond The Silly Years

    We’ve come through the real estate storm which I have called in these pages the “silly years”. We haven’t recovered, but clearly the storm is over. I sat in a committee of very smart people during those years, considering requests for development loans, each for millions of dollars. Today, because too many of those loans have gone bad, that committee doesn’t feel so smart. The question we all have ...
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  • Introduction To Short Sales Presentation To The Attorney's Title Insurance Fund

    Three years ago real estate lawyers were in the paper business. We believed that our clients did well in real estate, or business, in part because we documented what they got themselves into. They had smiles when they came in for real estate deals because they were selling, and taking profits that were the result of wise investment decisions, or they were expectantly getting on the real estate ...
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  • For the Good of the Order

    Realtors are called on to list properties daily. That’s what they do. Every newspaper is filled with articles about subprime mortgages, impending foreclosures, and generally, property which is over-mortgaged for one reason or another. A significant percentage of the properties listed can never be sold without additional cash at closing because the total amount owed on those properties exceeds the ...
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  • What a Pot of Stew Has in Common With a Real Estate Short Sale

    My mama was the consummate southern lady, and therefore, without the need to say, also a superbly able cook! Now, I know that the cholesterol content was out of sight, and that a cardiologist would tolerate us eating a good Southern meal only about once a year. Then, we were unconcerned about that, and one of her favorites, and mine, was “beef” stew. I’ve learned that the contents of those stew ...
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  • Specific Performance May Be No Performance at All

    The standard form contract used by Realtors, the FAR-8 as it is known to Realtors, does not even remotely protect the interest of a Seller, in most cases. In the event of breach, the remedies section of the form calls for the non-defaulting party to either recover the earnest money deposit, or require specific performance of the contract. An old and controlling legal maxim is that when any matter ...
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  • To List Or Not To List

    An excellent broker (and irreplaceable friend), asked me to address the alternatives available when a Realtor is asked to market distressed property. This article is the result of my struggle to derive from the circumstances some rules that might be useful. To the extent these comments assist, please receive them with the understanding that my effort is to help, not hinder. If you find the ...
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  • When You Smell Something Odd

    I received a call from a real estate owner whose property is listed for $ 1.1 million. She had just received a verbal offer for $1.5 million, but with the condition that she pay back to the Purchaser $350,000 cash “outside the closing”. If she agrees to pay back $350,000.00 to the Purchaser, the Purchaser’s agent will prepare the offer in writing. Quick math will show that the owner was to make an ...
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  • The Dumbest Thing We Do Every Day

    Every day we look at a contract. We either write it, we read someone else’s contract and try to understand it, or someone reads our contracts for the same reasons. Part of the frustrating reality of a contract is that it is almost impossible to write one of any complexity at all and have any two people agree on what every part of it means. This article is about the dumbest of all contract ...
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  • To Exchange Is Minimum Professional Advice

    This article has two messages. The first is for our mutual benefit; the second is intended for Realtors. First, the matter of real estate closing, and our mutual advantage. I see too many closing documents, including closing statements, that have some aspect of their content that contains a glaring, stupid error. Sometimes the error is mine; sometimes someone else should claim it. But the intent ...
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  • Do You Really Need A Lawyer?

    I wish I could say we are entering a time of financial and real property uncertainty. Unfortunately, that is not true. We know too much to claim uncertainty. Houses and condo units are sitting on the market with high mortgage balances, probably with increasing interest rates, and many of those were purchased at prices which were never sustained by the rental market. Now that the market has ...
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  • When Little Things Grow To Big Things

    One of the pedestrian requirements of life is running a small non-profit association. We have them because they are necessary. Churches, condominiums, and homeowner associations all have non-profit corporate charters. When they are small and have almost no budget, such corporations offer no public recognition, and few will even know they exist. They are not fun. They are dangerous. In the last few ...
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  • The Goose Is Not Dead

    Those who say the real estate market is dead are wrong. The real estate flipping market may be dead, but that market should never be confused with the profession we all share, that of understanding, dealing every day, and in my case closing, real estate. Traditional real estate professionals, both brokers and sales people, realize that the real real estate market involves such concepts as ...
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  • Whom Does The Closing Agent Protect?

    Anyone who has ever gone through a busy intersection when the power was down knows what a traffic cop does. Cars come from every direction, all of them in a hurry, all of them important, all of them scurrying somewhere. An efficient, clear, methodical police officer is like someone placed an angel at that intersection. A closing agent in real estate is that, and more. Every realtor is in a hurry ...
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