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Worcester Real Estate Law Blog

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.

Forecast may be changing for Boston residential real estate

According to a recent article, trends in the Boston residential real estate market are shifting. An attorney that focuses on real estate law can help individuals and entities adapt to those changes.

Specifically, one source characterizes the current residential real estate market in Boston and outlying neighborhoods like Allston and Worcester as bullish, with demand high and supply low. Particularly in the categories of condos and single-family homes, there seems to be not enough real estate to cover the interest. An attorney who is familiar with Boston’s municipal planning decisions may have advice to offer individuals on how a bull market may adversely impact them. 

Taking another look at commercial real estate trends

In a recent post, we examined some of the ways that the commercial real estate market has responded to foreclosures. In some cases, the events have provided an investment opportunity.

A real estate investment trust, or REIT, is another example of how investors might obtain foreclosed properties. A REIT is a type of real estate entity that allows investors to invest in income-producing real estate. Some commentators have compared REITs to the mutual fund model. Instead of securities, however, a REIT involves real estate, such as a collection of foreclosed homes renovated for resale or rental. 

Court issued zoning dispute ruling after construction had begun

In several recent posts, we’ve explored the importance of obtaining permits and investigating applicable zoning laws. Without that work, zoning disputes might arise and cause significant delay and/or expense.

Unfortunately, zoning disputes do not always arise in a timely manner. For example, a developer may have obtained all of the necessary building permits, only to be sidelined by community or neighborhood association complaints brought after construction has begun. 

New ways to think about real estate purchases

Have the guidelines for buying residential or commercial real property changed in the wake of the housing and foreclosure crisis? A recent article calls for greater caution.

For example, conventional wisdom held that a home is a safe investment option. At a minimum, real estate ownership was considered more financially beneficial in the long term than renting.  However, when the housing market crashed, many homeowners found their mortgage balance below the property’s fair market value. Although property values have been climbing upward in many neighborhoods in Massachusetts and across the country, equity in real estate is no longer regarded by some as a sure-fire investment. 

Does cloud-based technology help or hinder real estate deals?

In an age of convenience and technology, it’s perhaps no surprise that real estate professionals are trying a new paperless approach to real estate transactions. 

The process utilizes new cloud-based storage technology. Around 3,000 real estate offices now use a platform called Dotloop. Agents with accounts can access mortgage documents, deeds, titles, or other transactional paperwork from multiple devices: desktop computers, tablets or phones. When a signature from a client is required, an agent simply needs to invite that individual to the platform site. The platform also provides a notification to all parties after a document has been reviewed or signed.

Ways to approach lease disputes

Housing co-ops and condominiums are attractive to many Massachusetts tenants for their convenience, shared approach to common maintenance and repair issues, and affordability compared to more traditional housing alternatives. 

However, that shared ownership can also give way to disputes, as a recent pet ownership dispute illustrates. According to the story, the co-op board at issue had maintained a no-pets policy for 84 years, but several of the residents had applied for exceptions on the ground of medical necessity. 

Strategies for approaching lease disputes, negotiations

In Massachusetts, state law governs certain aspects of the landlord-tenant relationship. In fact, the website of the Attorney General of Massachusetts contains helpful information about tenancies established by written lease and those at-will. The information is helpful for prospective tenants, especially those who might not know that they have certain protected rights. 

For example, some terms in a rental agreement may be open to negotiation between the parties. When it comes to issues of payment arrangements, housing discrimination, eviction or habitable living conditions, however, there are legal parameters that must be observed.

Ways to approach a zoning or building permit denial

There's no denying that Boston and many of its surrounding suburbs have a great deal of history. According to the city of Boston's website, there are nine local Historic District Commissions that review property owners' requests to make exterior design changes to real estate located within designated districts. 

Yet even if an individual doesn't live in a historic district, there may be other municipal regulations that impact an individual's plans to buy or sell a house. One prospective homeowner's nightmare experience with a building permit revocation illustrates that a conversation with a real estate attorney might be a wise safeguard in many instances.

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