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Worcester Real Estate Law Blog

Supreme Court scheduled to hear dispute over second mortgage debt

If a homeowner’s primary mortgage is underwater, does he or she have a chance at refinancing or taking out a second mortgage? 

A real estate attorney’s answer might be qualified, and perhaps dependent on the outcome of two pending appeals before the U.S. Supreme Court. The appeals, brought by Bank of America, originate in the 11thCircuit. However, their ramifications could be far-reaching.

Taking a look at Boston's pricey residential real estate market

Does a first-time homebuyer need a real estate attorney? In Boston’s uncertain residential real estate market, the answer might be yes.

According to data from the National Association of Realtors, the percentage of first-time buyers has dropped to its lowest point since 1987, at around 33 percent. Some commentators point to a tough job market for millennials, many of whom also have high levels of student debt. Boston, in particular, has a tough market for prospective homebuyers, with the median condo price close to $600,000.

Tips for navigating commercial real estate transactions

A real estate attorney knows that there can be complicated legal issues associated with a real estate transaction.

For example, readers may be aware that selling a home may involve paying capital gains tax on its appreciation. With a real estate investment, however, depreciation may work differently. Buildings purchased for the purpose of investment can be depreciated over a period of years, perhaps reaching a value of zero. When it comes time to sell the investment, a commercial seller may be able to declare a tax loss on that investment property.

Massachusetts leader takes on predatory lending and foreclosures

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has become involved in an area of real estate more typically reserved for real estate attorneys: foreclosure sales.

Specifically, Coakley brought lawsuits against two federal mortgage agencies -- Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae -- for their alleged refusal to sell homes in foreclosure to various nonprofit groups committed to helping struggling homeowners buy back their properties. Notably, those two lenders hold or guarantee over 60 percent of Americans' home mortgages.

Eminent domain battle continues over Boston theater property

Although it may not happen that often, the government does have the right to take private property for public use, provided other circumstances are present.

A local story provides context. According to court filings, the former owners of Boston’s historic Modern Theater are seeking almost $1 million dollars from the Boston Redevelopment Authority. The BRA took possession of the building by eminent domain in 2002. 

Can equity influence a real estate transaction?

According to a recent report, home equity lending is up by over twenty percent from a year ago.

Specifically, one real estate data firm examined lines of credit issued to homeowners who wanted to leverage some of their home equity. Across the country, nearly 798,000 home equity lines of credit, or HELOC loans, were issued in 2014. 

Issues affecting affordable housing development projects

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh recently released his first official housing plan. The report calls for more developers of middle-class housing projects and includes several strategies for attracting them, such as property tax incentives and land deals. 

The local administration hopes to spur more construction of middle-class housing based on recent real estate trends. According to the report, developers have focused on downtown luxury developments, squeezing condos and apartments at more moderate price points out of the market. Without affordable housing options, the middle-class may be forced out of downtown living.

More issues impacting commercial real estate transactions

Although it may be easy to understand the desire to preserve historical structures, disagreements can arise in their classification. In the context of land use and zoning, such efforts may impose a height restriction on skyscrapers or other commercial development projects. 

Yet zoning is but one potential issue facing commercial developers. Some commentators question whether the historically low interest rates set by the Federal Reserve may be coming to an end. If that happens, it may be harder for commercial developers to attract investors and make property investment sales. 

Do reverse mortgages ease retirement worries?

Some might imagine the benefits of retirement to include a more relaxed schedule and fewer debts. For example, children might be grown, a house mortgage might be paid off, and retirement accounts may have vested. Why, then, are some retired Americans exploring a reverse mortgage?

For readers unfamiliar with the term, a reverse mortgage is a unique type of lending arrangement. In fact, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has a reverse mortgage program for the stated purpose of providing older Americans with greater security. Homeowners who are age 62 or older can withdraw some of the equity in their home without any obligation to make loan payments until their passing or in the event the home no longer serves as their principal residence. 

Do zoning officials favor foreign property developers?

Although zoning laws may sometimes get in the way of a commercial developer’s brainstorming and design ideas, they are the law. Yet a recent article suggests that not every property developer may be held to the same standard. 

If that sounds unfair to readers, there’s a good reason: A lot of money can be at stake when building projects are restricted or even denied by municipal zoning authorities. The reasons can be various, such as a quota of affordable housing in a neighborhood or a required park or recreational area.

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