Archive for January, 2012

Short Sale Contract Can Be Cancelled by Buyer Before Lender Approval

January 6, 2012

A purchase contract was signed for the short sale of an Arizona home. The closing was scheduled thirty days after approval of the short saleby the lender. The lender approved the short sale the requirement that the closing occur within fourteen days. The buyer was concerned, about qualifying for a new loan within fourteen days and cancelled the purchase contract. Did the buyer have the right to cancel the purchase contract?

A buyer can generally cancel a short sale contract without any reason at any time prior to the receipt of the approval of the short sale contract by the seller’s lender. If there is any condition in the approval received from the seller’s lender, however, such as a shorter closing date or a higher purchase price, the buyer can cancel the short sale contract at that time.

Note: All purchase contracts have contingencies such as home inspection, termite inspection, approval of title report, and the approval of the buyer’s lender for a new loan. A short sale contract simply has one additional contingency, namely, approval of the seller’s lender.

Explaining Adverse Possession Rights In Fence Disagreement

January 6, 2012

A homeowner’s backyard fence is 8 feet over into his neighbor’s property and the neighbor wants him to move the fence.

The homeowner has only owned my home for six years, and the neighbor is claiming that he has no adverse possession rights to the 8 feet, although his home is more than 20 years old. And while the fence looks more than 20 years old, the homeowner is not exactly sure when it was built.

According to Arizona real estate law, does the homeowner have to tear down the fence?

The answer is probably not. By “tacking on” the adverse possession years of the prior owners of the home, the requirement of 10 years for adverse possession can be met.

Therefore, the homeowner should initially try to contact the individual who sold the home, look at any old photographs or aerial maps of the property, and talk to neighbors in the area to determine when the fence was built. Another place to contact is the city for the date of any building permit for the fence.

If the fence was built more than 10 years ago, the homeowner does own the 8 feet by adverse possession and are not required to tear down the fence.

Remember to Update Your Estate Plan After Changes

January 5, 2012

While you cannot know what changes the future will bring in your life, you can be certain that change will come. Some of the most common changes in life include the acquisition of money and property, marriage and divorce, the birth of children, and death. An effective estate plan can provide for most of the important decisions related to each of these changes. Even if you already have an estate plan, these changes often necessitate updating your estate plan. Updating your estate plan may include changing how your property will be allocated among your heirs or beneficiaries, changing your personal representative or power of attorney, and selecting or changing a guardian to care for your children in the event of your death. Updating your estate plan can help you effectively address these changes.

In addition to a will and possibly a revocable living trust, a basic estate plan should include a living will, a health care power of attorney, and a financial power of attorney, all of which help you plan for events in which you may still be alive, but not conscious or capable of making decisions. Consideration should also be given to beneficiary deeds and payable on death (P.O.D.) accounts, both of which allow you to transfer property upon death outside of probate.

The Combs Law Group can help you create an estate plan, and can also help you update your existing estate plan to help you plan for the expected and unexpected changes that the future holds. We look forward to meeting your estate planning needs.

Are Smokers Covered Under Fair-Housing Laws?

January 5, 2012

A couple is moving to England next year so he can teach at the University of Cambridge. Their plan is to return to Arizona after one year so they want to rent their Chandler home while they are gone. They do not want to rent to smokers because they do not want the smell of smoke in their home upon returning home. A potential renter, whose brother is an attorney, says that they must rent to her even though she is a smoker because smokers have equal housing rights. Is this true? What are the Arizona landlord tenant laws regarding smoker’s rights?

The answer is no. When I’m asked about the rights of smokers, I am reminded of Ted Danson’s line in the movie Body Heat when, after everyone else in a conference room lights up a cigarette and he is offered one, he says, “No, thanks. I’ll just breathe the air!” Smokers are not a protected class such as race, sex, or familial status under the Fair Housing laws, and the couple is entitled to refuse to rent to smokers. Likewise, landlords can discriminate against college students, unrelated single adults, and illegal aliens, provided that the real reason for the discrimination is not based on the prospective tenant being a member of a protected class such as race or religion.