Survey as Part of Due Diligence

George Washington was a surveyor.  From our country’s beginning we have the concept to define our exact place on the planet in a way that does not get mixed up with any other place.  Of course those were in the era of chains and rods, and when the days were warm, the chains were a little longer than on cold days.  While technology has improved, land survey is still not an exact science. In Florida, property is described as from a place in Tallahassee—how many townships north or south from Tallahassee, and how many ranges east or west of our state capital.  However, Florida also has Spanish land grants.  In the transfer from Spain, the United States said we will honor those land grants, so they stick around and they are not square; they have really weird shapes. So why get a survey?   A survey is part of your due diligence when you acquire a piece of real estate.  Even if you are paying cash in a platted subdivision, get a survey so the title exception for surveys is removed from your title insurance.  A title insurance company is not going to insure something they do not know about.  If […] Read More

Real Estate Between Friends

Little Bo-Peep and Mistress Mary were best friends.  When Bo-Peep’s sheep ran off, she sold her cottage to Mary for $100,000 in a cash deal, done quickly so Bo-Peep could go find her sheep, and Mary could plant her garden.  Silver bells and cockleshells were just coming up when Mistress Mary was served a Lis Pendens.  She was quite contrary then! What is a little real estate between friends? Since Bo-Peep had owned the place for years and they were such good friends, Mistress Mary had bought it with a Quit Claim Deed, paid cash, and not bothered with title insurance or even a title search. Turns out the lawsuit was from two owners ago; Bo Peep did not even know about the problem.  Mistress Mary had taken on the $100,000 risk at the purchase; furthermore, without title insurance, she did not have a policy to financially protect her investment.  It was such a mess not even Mother Goose could sort it out.  If only Mistress Mary had had a Warranty Deed, at least she could have sued her friend, Bo-Peep!   Do not let friendship pull the wool over your eyes.  There are certain things you can do to […] Read More

DUI Due Diligence

Driving Under the Influence and Due Diligence are not logical companions.  If you did your due diligence, you would have gotten a designated driver or made other transportation arrangements ahead of time.  However, if you are charged with DUI, there is some due diligence you can take to help the penalty fit the crime. A DUI is a serious charge which should be treated seriously.  Besides possible injury or loss of life, fines for DUI convictions start at $500 and run into thousands of dollars, depending on how many times you have been convicted, your blood alcohol level, and if you had a minor in the car with you.  Those are just the penalty expenses, which do not include court costs, legal fees, insurance increases, and possible labor hours lost due to incarceration and/or community service, and/or DUI education. While alcohol can impair your ability to operate a motor vehicle correctly with safety considerations to yourself and others, currently we deal with this problem through penalty, but there are flaws in our system. A DUI defense often deals with proper testing procedure and appropriate punishment.  Was the evidence obtained correctly and is it scientific?  Does the penalty fit the crime?  […] Read More

Survey

Surveying is an inexact science.  We used to use chains and rods to measure land, and on hot days, the chains were longer.  While we have more accurate instruments today, land survey is still not an exact science.  Furthermore, landmarks change; even roads can move, for instance Kings Estate Road is under reconstruction now at the intersection of Dobbs Road and Kings Road.  Old subdivisions with lots and blocks can move with county maps.  People purchase property, build homes, and the land sells again before somebody notices that the houses are 200 feet off.  The new owners own the lot where the physical address is, but their title insurance insures the lot, not the address. A survey is part of your due diligence when you acquire a piece of real estate.  Even if you are paying cash in a platted subdivision, get a survey so the title exception for surveys is removed from your title insurance.  A title insurance company is not going to insure something they do not know about.  If you do not get a survey, they are not going to insure for survey errors.  Also, a survey costs $300 to $500–they are not expensive. You cannot mitigate […] Read More

Do Not Get Punked by a Ponzi Scheme

A Ponzi Scheme is only popular with the person running it…everybody else does not know.  Do not get punked by a Ponzi Scheme—know the signs to be suspicious. A Ponzi Scheme is an investment plan where the money does not get invested, and the returns come from funds collected from new investors.  Works fine until there are not enough new “investors,” then returns start to fail, and victims can lose the principal they put in as well as any expected interest. The US Securities and Exchange Commission offers these Ponzi Scheme warning signs: High returns with little or no risk. Every investment carries some degree of risk, and investments yielding higher returns typically involve more risk. Be highly suspicious of any “guaranteed” investment opportunity. Overly consistent returns. Investments tend to go up and down over time. Be skeptical about an investment that regularly generates positive returns regardless of overall market conditions. Unregistered investments. Ponzi schemes typically involve investments that are not registered with the SEC or with state regulators. Registration is important because it provides investors with access to information about the company’s management, products, services, and finances. Unlicensed sellers. Federal and state securities laws require investment professionals and firms to be licensed or […] Read More

Do Your Due Diligence in Buying Foreclosures & REOs

Just because a deal is risky does not necessarily mean you should not do it.  Sometimes the risk is worth the reward.  But you need to be aware of the risks so you can make an informed decision.  Do your due diligence before you obligate yourself and your resources.  There are a lot of good deals in the foreclosure and real estate owned (REO) market, but you need to know what you are getting into. Do your property inspections, and have an attorney look over your shoulder at the legal paperwork.  Often the better the bargain the more complicated the contract, which is a good time to have a set of expert eyes to help you see the true value from every angle, a third party specialist who is looking out for your interest alone. Attorneys are not just for dire situations.  They can help you reach your goals in more positive circumstances.  Due diligence with competent legal counsel can help prevent a dire situation in a foreclosure or REO purchase, and they can help you know about the possibility of one.     Read More

Legal Counsel for Good Times & Bad

Sometimes the risk is worth the reward.  Just because a deal is risky does not necessarily mean you should not do it.  But you do need to be aware of the risks so you can make an informed decision.  Legal Counsel can often help in that department. Do your due diligence before you pay for it or obligate yourself and your resources.  For example, there are a lot of good deals in the foreclosure market, but you need to know what you are buying.  Have an attorney look over your shoulder before you purchase a second-hand view of a first mortgage. Sometimes the better the bargain the more complicated the contract which is another good time to have a set of expert eyes to help you see the true value from every angle, a third party specialist who is looking out for your interest alone. Attorneys are not just for life’s most imperfect situations.  Sometimes they can prevent financial disaster, and/or help you reach positive goals. Read More

Hansel & Gretel Off the Map

Once upon a time Hansel and Gretel got a great deal on a nice piece of property just at the edge of a dark forest.  The land had been surveyed by the previous owner not three months prior, so Hansel and Gretel decided not to get a new survey.  They were ignorant children after all, and thought they were smart to save that little bit of money, but because the property was not clearly marked, they wandered off into the forest without so much as breadcrumbs to mark their path. Consequently Hansel and Gretel came upon another landowner who lived in a delicious candy house.  She fattened them with promises to help, and then popped them both into her oven so she could claim their property was a part of hers with no dispute.   If I told you NOT to get a survey, my degree would fall off the wall—some risks are not worth taking.  Survey the risks, and if a deal looks too good to be true, hire an attorney to look at it. Read More