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Worcester Real Estate Law Blog

An important distinction: initiated versus completed foreclosures

According to data from a local real estate tracking firm, foreclosures against Massachusetts homeowners rose for the eighth consecutive month in October. Since October 2013, initiated foreclosures have nearly doubled, according to data from the Warren Group. 

Of course, a real estate attorney knows that a distinction must be made between initiated and completed foreclosures.  In fact, the data bears this out: Although initiated foreclosures in Massachusetts rose in the first ten months of 2014, the number of completed foreclosures actually fell by 6.7 percent during the same period. 

What are some issues that can arise in a condominium conversion?

As greater Boston communities continue to grow and develop, urban planners may have an eye toward converting older warehouses or buildings. 

In a recent example, a three-level East Boston firehouse constructed in 1860 was converted into two luxury condos. Given the building’s original purpose, the dimensions of the first floor are vast and include industrial touches like metal air vents. Even the third floor ceilings are about 15 feet high. As might be expected, the developer had to take a keen eye toward refurbishing, such as installing adequate heating and floorings.

Tips for responding to a foreclosure notice

Although a lender may have a legal right to collect on its secured interest, many equitable considerations also come into play what the property at issue is a principal residence. For that reason, state lawmakers have codified the procedures for foreclosure and redemption of mortgages in Massachusetts. For both buyers and sellers, it is important to consult with a real estate attorney to plan for this contingency. 

For starters, it is important to note that a foreclosure proceeding does not always involve the court’s involvement. If the mortgage document contains a power-of-sale clause, a lender generally has the right to foreclose on property in the event of the borrower’s default. 

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.

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