When Family Law Issues Involve Real Estate
Summer Vol. V
Selling Vacant and Abandoned Properties
AUG 2017 Note From the Editor Dear Reader,
Our real estate practice specializes in understanding the unique complexities of selling homes tied up in legal processes, whether that’s divorce,
If you are in charge of an abandoned property, it may be in your best interest to find a way to sell it. Selling an abandoned property is often difficult because of the location and/or state of the property. However, local governments put up obstacles beyond those in an attempt to control the neighborhood. They openly created disincentives for leaving the properties vacant and penalize those who let their properties fall into such a state of disrepair that they are considered blights on the neighborhood. Although the reasons are understandable, it works against those who are trying to do the right thing and divest themselves of a property they truly don’t have the resources to care for. Some urban areas have a particularly large number of abandoned properties. Here are some examples of obstacles and incentives used by Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. Washington, D.C. Requiring an extra tax as a kind of punishment is considered experimental, as we don’t yet know the full impact of these measures. D.C.’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) currently taxes vacant properties 5 percent extra, and 10 extra if it is determined that those properties are blighted. The law allows for some exceptions, such as those owned by the federal government or those under construction. There is an exception if the owner can prove that the property is on the market for rent or sale with some qualifications, and there’s a rarely granted exemption for financial hardship. These and other exemptions are subject to time limits and to appeal by the homeowner. There is confusion among homeowners about the qualifications and the new legislation which will put the burden of proof on the homeowner to prove that a property is even occupied. The new rules would also cut down time limits for some exemptions and penalize those who fail to list
their unoccupied properties as being so. As it stands, the law puts an impossible burden on the DCRA for maintaining a list of properties but also adds in a rebate for those who comply with the regulations and then manage to fill their vacant properties within a year. Maryland Property taxes in Maryland are determined locally. Maryland offers a homestead exemption, and local jurisdictions offer some other tax incentives for occupied real property, though an investigation discovered that many vacant properties mistakenly get those credits. Strict rules about tax arrearages owed have contributed to the problem in Maryland, but a tax credit in Baltimore for taking over an abandoned property is a major incentive as it offers up to 100 percent reimbursement under certain conditions. Many local jurisdictions require owners to register vacant property, but the requirements are not as restrictive as those in D.C. For instance, many require a $50 fee with registration occurring within 30 days of a foreclosure sale. Virginia Virginia real estate property tax percentages are surprisingly low, though the amount taxed is still steep because of the high property values. Residents can take advantage of homestead exemptions, both state and federal, for tax and bankruptcy purposes. Some local jurisdictions have enacted laws which penalize vacant property owners, although the effects are nominal compared to D.C’s more strict policy. Charlottesville, for instance, has a requirement to register a vacant property within 365 days, and the fee is $25.
probate, or bankruptcy. The challenges of these types of filings don’t come just from the buyers and sellers; they also come from spouses, heirs, the IRS, local tax authorities, local code enforcement, HOAs, and POA. If you value working with an agent who can avoid these pitfalls, someone you can feel confident will close the file, then give me a call or send an email: (301) 660-6272, ext. 700, or Cormier64@ gmail.com. Yours truly, –Marc Cormier Editor/Realtor
CALL (703) 445-3550 or (301) 660-6272 ext. 700
For more information (301) 660-6272 | Cormier64@gmail.com | Serving MD, DC, & VA Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices | PenFedRealty.com | 1
to Watch Out For Scams
Give your client a free book! Email us at Marc.Cormier@PenFedRealty.com and we’ll take care of the rest!
Going through a divorce is a tough time for both parties. It leaves so many questions about what to do with the house. I wrote this book to help couples in this situation and guide them on the best ways to deal with their house. You hear so many stories about fighting, problems, and unfair distributions. Navigate a Divorced Home Situation
Imagine coming home to find that you are on someone else’s property.
The scammers picked your home to take. They did some basic internet research to find out your personal information and created fake IDs. They obtained the proper forms, forged your signature, and filed the papers with the authorities. They own your home. You have been a victim of deed fraud. Unfortunately, many homeowners do not know how to spot, let alone protect themselves from, real estate fraud. The American Bar Association highlights some of the many ways scammers can get your home out from under you, including the following listed below. ‘Saving’ You From Foreclosure Scammers say that you can transfer the title to them for a small amount of time, paying rent to them instead of to your mortgage so you can catch up. Instead, these people often sell the home once they have the title in their name, and you are still stuck paying the mortgage. The Straw-Man Scheme Essentially, a scammer gets a mortgage on a home by providing the credit history of a straw man, or a less skilled criminal. The scammer then gets the straw man to sign over the deed, which often nets the straw man some money. In the end, the straw man is often the person who gets prosecuted for this crime. Illegal House Flipping The criminals purchase a home and maybe make some minor improvements. Then, they sell the home for much more than it is worth. By the time you realize that your home’s value is way lower than what you paid, it is too late. The possibilities are endless, and scammers often leave long and complicated trails of fake information to sift through. So, how can you protect yourself against these sophisticated criminals? According to the FBI, the best thing to do is stay vigilant by regularly checking in at the county deeds office. All of the records related to homes and businesses are stored in the deeds office and are public information. By checking regularly, you can tip off the proper authorities if and when you find a forged signature or any other suspect information in your home’s file.
This will answer all those questions and more. It covers the implications of going to court over the house, dealing with uncooperative spouses, and everything else to get you through this difficult time. Don’t let a situation in which you want to sell your home quickly or cash out with your spouse as fast as possible cost you thousands of dollars. Get your free copy of the book now!
Sell Your Inherited Home and Navigate the Process
Inheriting a home from a loved one who passed away can be a very difficult situation. Unfortunately, you’ll likely be forced to make a decision about what to do with the estate and maybe make that decision with other family members. That’s why I wrote this book — to guide you through this process that can be tough on entire families. I break down the legal aspects, the best strategies, prepping the home , and even dealing with uncooperative family members.
Get a free copy, and be prepared to make the right choices after the loss of a loved one.
The materials in our newsletter are for informational purposes only and do not convey legal advice.
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