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Worcester Real Estate Law Blog

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.

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. 

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