Category Archives: Condominium

New First-Time Homebuyer Loan Program from Freddie Mac. It requires a down-payment of 3%

First-Time Homebuyers have another arrow in their quiver in their attempt to slay the great monster, purchasing their first home. On April 26, 2018, Freddie Mac announced a new loan program targeted at first-Time homebuyers. It is called HomeOne. The Program requires a down payment of 3% and it is provided to otherwise qualified borrowers who are first-time homebuyers. This is not a FHA insured loan but a conventional loan. According to Freddie Mac, HomeOne will be available to borrowers commencing on July 29, 2018, so it misses this spring’s market but it will be positioned for the late summer and early fall seasons.

Freddie Mac’s release stated that “HomeOne mortgage is part of the company’s ongoing efforts to support responsible lending, provide sustainable homeownership and improve access to credit,…The HomeOne mortgage will provide our customers the flexibility they need to help borrowers anywhere in the country achieve the milestone of homeownership and overcome the common down payment resource hurdle. HomeOne is a great solution for aspiring homebuyers to grab that first rung of the property ladder and enjoy the financial and social benefits of participating in homeownership.”

The underwriting of the loans will attempt to make a complete risk assessment based on several factors. It will review credit as it applies to the capacity to repay and the value of the collateral as well as other factors. It was stated that HomeOne mortgage will be offered only for conforming fixed-rate mortgages. The loan must be secured by a single unit primary residence. Not all of the borrowers have to be a first-time homebuyer, but at least one does have to be a first-time homebuyer. According to Freddie Mac it is also adjusting the area-median-income (AMI) limits in an effort to sharpen its focus on low- and-moderate income homebuyers.

So, if you are a first-time homebuyer looking for a property, you may want to consider this loan program. It is also important to note that this is not the only program available to first-time homebuyers nor is it our firm’s endorsement of the program. You should always seek the advice of a well-informed lending professional when you are purchasing a home. Our Firm is prepared to assist first-time homebuyers in their purchase of their home in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. We want to earn your trust and have you as a client for life.

Fixed Fees for purchase and sale work—an idea whose time has come

When I first started practicing law, it was accepted practice to bill matters by the hour. After all, the only thing I was selling was my time, and if I spent more time on a matter than I expected, why shouldn’t the client compensate me for that effort? While these axioms remain true, the marketplace has changed, and consumers are now aware that “shopping” for an attorney is no different than shopping for any other service or commodity. Because of these trends, and because I want everyone I represent to believe they have been well served and fairly charged for services, my firm now uses a “fixed fee” approach to almost all real estate transactions. My practice is to enter into an initial discussion with the client to determine the level of complexity of the transaction, and then to agree upon a fee, which will not change even if the transaction goes viral, and I spend more time on the matter than anticipated.

Accordingly, if you work with Topkins & Bevans for the purchase or sale of your home, you will know, up front, what the matter will cost you, and you can factor that expense into your budgeting process.

There are several inherent advantages to this approach:

  1. You and our firm establish a relationship of TRUST, our most important product.

If you believe that you are working with honorable professionals, you will feel comfortable telling your friends and family about us, and that helps Topkins & Bevans to expand our client base. You may also feel comfortable using our firm for other legal matters which may arise, including helping you develop an Estate Plan for your family.

  1. You are not hesitant to email or call when you have a question.

Many people worry about calling when the meter is “on”. They have concerns, but they do not want to expand the amount of their legal fee. Fixed fee billing eliminates that factor from the equation. When the pressure is off, people communicate better. On the other hand, the situations are few and far between where a client takes unfair advantage of the fixed fee approach.

  1. We get all the information from you that we need to give you appropriate representation.

Our firm has real estate experience at almost every level. We have completed condominium conversions. We have prepared subdivisions. We are familiar with current lending practices. None of this expertise will help you unless we know all the facts of your situation. When you are not worried about the added cost, you can open up and give us good information. That usually translates to our being able to give you effective representation.

If you are considering buying or selling a home, we would love to hear from you. We will work with you on a fixed fee basis and even defer payment of some, or all, of your fee until the closing. There is nothing better in our line of work than a satisfied client, and that is what we aim for, each and every time.

Assessments Reassessed!!!

Earlier this month, I represented a Seller in a Boston condominium. Every transaction has its issues, and the issue in this matter was the fact that the Condominium, which had more than sixty (60) units, was undergoing renovation, and there were going to be Special Assessments to pay for same. The Seller and Buyer spent a substantial amount of time and effort trying to figure out an equitable way to split the responsibility for same. I normally take the position that if the subject of the Special Assessment is looking backward [repairing a rotted roof, foundation cracks or brick pointing], it is clearly the Seller’s responsibility. If the subject is a new feature for the Condominium [recreation room, pool] the Buyer should pay. There is never a clear path, but, generally, if both the Seller and Buyer are motivated, we can reach agreement.

Once I put this matter to bed, it occurred to me that Assessments, which are often viewed with horror by both Buyers and Sellers, are really a positive sign of good Condominium governance, and not something to avoid. As I started to think about Condominiums which I have owned, or assisted people in buying or selling, I realized that not having Assessments, and addressing either deferred maintenance or improving the Condominium complex, is, in fact, a negative factor, because when problems do arise, they are that much more significant since they have been ignored no long. For example, the Condominium where I live has not changed its monthly fee, or had a Special Assessment, for the more than the twelve (12) years I have lived there. I do not view this as a good thing: I view it as sloth and indolence on the part of the people who run the Condominium.

The bottom line is that there is a lot of deferred maintenance in all homes, but especially in Condominiums. If you live in a Condominium, where management is up-front and pro-active in keeping the systems and components in good shape, chances are that there will never be a major problem, because the smaller problems are being addressed on a continuing basis. I now also believe that “self-management” is really a code word for “cheap”, and that a self-managed condominium is not as valuable as one which has professional management and experienced operatives dealing with normal, and extraordinary, issues which arise. The more I see of self-management, the more I see megalomania. That results because like our political system, competent people are not willing to serve as Trustees and condominium officers, so people without experience or framework assume power, often leading to poor decisions and a Condominium with no prospects of having the value thereof increase. The only thing these individuals possess is plenty of spare time, and the old adage “if you want to get something done, ask a busy person” very often applies.

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