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HOLDING TITLE TO HOME

Q. 
We are in the process of purchasing a home.  The escrow will be closing in two weeks.  Our real estate agent suggests that we hold title as joint tenants.  What is your opinion?

A. 
I don't have sufficient information to advise you on this important matter.  Deciding how to hold title has many legal ramifications.  A real estate lawyer should be consulted who also has experience in estate planning.  Your real estate agent is practicing law without a license. Top


MINIMUM DOWN PAYMENT REQUIREMENT

Q. 
Our association in Studio City has recently adopted an amendment to our CC&Rs that requires purchasers of homes in our community to put at least 50% down. The intention is to discourage buyers who cannot afford to pay our association's assessments. We are tired of dealing with delinquency problems. Is this amendment enforceable?

A. 
Probably not. Courts will not enforce unreasonable restraints on alienation (the sale or leasing of property). A 50% down payment requirement will probably be considered unreasonable because most second trust deed lenders do not require such large down payments or equity positions. Your association is effectively in the same position as a second trust deed lender, in terms of risk. Top


VIOLATION OF ARCHITECTURAL REQUIREMENT BY FORMER OWNER

Q. 
We recently purchased a townhome in Valencia only to find out that the former owners had previously been notified in writing by the board of directors that their patio cover did not meet the architectural requirements of the community.  What can we do?

A. 
Section 1368 (a)(5) was recently added to the California Civil Code to deal with this type of problem.  Under this section, a copy or a summary of any notice previously sent to the owner that sets forth any alleged violation of the governing documents that remains unresolved must be provided to the prospective purchaser as soon as practical before transfer of title.

Any person or entity who willfully violates this section can be held liable to the purchaser for actual damages and, in addition, a fine not to exceed $500.00. Top


REQUIRED DISCLOSURES

Q. 
I am a new real estate agent and would like to specialize in selling condominiums. What types of disclosures are required to be made before a condominium can be sold?

A. 
Before a separate interest (unit in a condominium, lot in a planned development, or right to occupy in a stock cooperative) can be sold, the owner is required to provide the following to the prospective buyer:

(1)     CC&Rs, bylaws and association rules;

(2)     A statement from the association's representative as to the amount of the regular and special assessments, fees and, if applicable, the amount of any unpaid assessments and/or other charges;

(3)     Any change in the association's regular and special assessments and fees which have been approved but have not yet become due and payable;

(4)     If applicable, a list of preliminary construction defects;

(5)     If applicable, any settlement agreement between the association and builder regarding construction defects;

(6)     The association's operating budget which must include a summary of the association's reserve study;

(7)     A review of the association's last financial statement prepared by a licensee of the California State board of Accountancy, if the annual gross income of the association exceeded $75,000;

(8)     A statement describing the association's policies and practices in enforcing lien rights or other legal remedies for default in payment of its assessments; and

(9)     A summary of the association's insurance coverages.

In addition, sellers are required to disclose to any prospective purchaser any fact materially affecting the value and desirability of the property, including but not limited to, the physical conditions of the property and previously received reports of physical inspections.

Lastly, real estate agents are required to conduct a reasonably competent and diligent visual inspection of the property offered for sale and to disclose to the prospective purchaser all facts materially affecting the value or desirability of the property that an investigation would reveal.

As you can see, the duty to disclose is extensive. It is recommended that you utilize the applicable standard California Association of Realtors forms and that you take your duty to disclose seriously. Top


DUE DILIGENCE BEFORE PURCHASE

Q. 
I am purchasing a condominium. What should I review and approve before I make the decision to commit to a purchase?

A. 
All of the items set forth in the answer above, plus the following:

(1)     An inspection report from a licensed and independent home inspector,

(2)     A structural pest control report, and

(3)     Minutes of meetings of the board of directors for the last twelve months. Top







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