Poltergeist Gives a New Definition to “Buyer Beware”

by sandy.linczer 31, October 2013 13:34

 

Poltergeist is a classic horror film made in 1982 about a family who moves into a house that is haunted by ghosts.  Ironically, the husband, Steven Freeling (Craig T. Nelson), is a successful real estate developer and only after it is too late, finds out that their house is built over a cemetery.

 

As a result, the  Freelings deal with things no family would expect when moving into a new home.  They see bizarre instances of furniture being rearranged, experience indoor earthquakes, are attacked by reanimated trees and taken over by apparitions appearing inside the TV.  The seller did not disclose any defects with the house that would lead to any these circumstances occurring.

 

This leads to the discussion of what must and must not be disclosed to a buyer before they purchase a home.  Did the owner leave out key information when selling that property to the Freelings?  Or was he not obligated to disclose what seems to be very pertinent information (the fact that the house was built on a cemetery)  

 

In Texas, to quote property law, “A Seller or Seller's agent have no obligation to release information about death that occurred on the property due to natural causes, suicide, or accident unrelated to the property condition or whether previous occupant had, may have or has AIDS, HIV related illnesses or HIV infection.”  

However, “In Texas, a seller of real estate is under a duty to disclose material facts that would not be discoverable by the exercise of ordinary care and diligence on the part of the purchaser, or that a reasonable investigation and inquiry would not uncover.”

So technically, since being built on a cemetery is not a material defect; the seller did not have to disclose such information.  It was a new house and there was no prior knowledge from any previous owner about any deaths related to the property so the seller disclosed all he needed to.

 

However, not disclosing supernatural facts about a house can cause a deal to go sour.  In 1991, there was a famous court case in New York, where a buyer was able to get out of his contract because he had bought the house without knowing that the property was notoriously haunted.  The seller action’s were not called fraudulent.  However, even with a proper seller’s disclosure (legally at least) the buyer was able to back out of the contract due to the fact that the house had a reputation for being haunted and the seller did not disclose this fact to him directly.  

All this legal talk is frightening to say the least.  Happy Halloween!

Sources:

HouseDefects.com

http://www.housedefects.com/31/Sellers_Obligations.htm

LegalZoom.com

http://www.legalzoom.com/everyday-law/home-leisure/ghoul-disclosure-must-home-sellers

Casebriefs.com http://www.casebriefs.com/blog/law/property/property-law-keyed-to-dukeminier/the-land-transaction/stambovsky-v-ackley/

 

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Tips to Avoid Rental Scams

by Mirania 27, November 2012 16:25

Rental Scams have become a common phenomenon these days with several tenants falling victims to apartment rental scams or a fake landlord scams every other day. Recently, I came across a news report at Myfoxphilly.com that speaks of an unscrupulous landlord who has duped several prospective tenants by luring them to sign false rental agreement for the same property. The prospective tenants have claimed paying thousands of dollars to the landlord as security deposits that he did not pay back for a house.

In order to avoid rental scams, tenants should be careful and follow certain measures to avoid such scams.  The number of rental scams is multiplying by leaps and bounds in real estate market. This article would focus on few guidelines that a tenant should follow in order to avoid getting scammed by dishonest landlords.

1) Read your documents: Never pay a security deposit before signing the rental agreement. If you have rented before, you can hopefully recognize some of the features of your standard lease (name of landlord, payment terms, late fee, rules,etc), and you should inspect your documentation to see if it looks legitimate.

2) Check out the Property in person:  Checking out the rental property if you can; because you may never get back your money, if it is a scam.  If you can drive by the property, then you can see if there is a rental sign in front of the property and this number matches the online advertisement contact numbers. Also, make sure that you check with the people in the neighborhood to confirm who owns the property.

3) Check if property ownership information matches online:  Ensure that the property you are renting is a legitimate rental property. The increasing number of foreclosures has encouraged the scammers to rent out properties that do not belong to them. Thus, before renting a house, spare some time to do an online investigation on the landlord and see if the name of the owner matches the party that you are contacting.  Additionally, usually property records will indicate potential mailing addresses , then you can use that to identify irregularities, if any.  The online records may indicate a ownership by the bank, so it may help identify that the landlord no longer owns the home.

4) If it sounds too good to be true,then it probably is:  It is not an easy task to identify a rental scam.  Often times, we as consumers or tenants get attracted to the astounding offers, attractive prices, and great deals that we open ourselves up to being fooled by the scammers.  One way to check is google the address and check the local real estate association sites and see if the property is listed on other sites for different prices, listed as a short sale, pre-foreclosure sale, or other contact information may differ. It maybe that the scammers are find their potential target properties by scanning other real estate listing and co-opting them for their purposes. In the case of this landlord in Philly, you may find out that the bank has listed the property for sale or short sale, and the owner or former owner did not have the right to lease it out again.

These are few important tips for tenants so that they can avoid being scammed by landlords. Therefore, as future tenants you should always be vigilant to avoid scammers and keep these guidelines in mind next time you look out for a rental property. It also helps to work with licensed real estate brokerages and property managers as they are governed and monitored by state regulatory agencies, so it does provide some  level of comfort that you are working with legitimate parties.

 

Philadelphia News, Weather and Sports from WTXF FOX 29

Philly Tenant scammed by landlord

by Mirania 7, November 2012 15:47

Rental Scams have become a common phenomenon these days with several tenants falling victims to apartment rental scams or a fake landlord scams every other day. Recently, I came across a news report at myfoxphilly.com that speaks of an unscrupulous landlord who has duped several prospective tenants by luring them to sign false rental agreement for the same property. The prospective tenants have claimed paying thousands of dollars to the landlord as security deposits that he did not pay back for a house. (Click here for the full story)

In order to avoid rental scams, tenants should be careful and follow certain measures to avoid such scams.  The number of rental scams is multiplying by leaps and bounds in real estate market. This article would focus on few guidelines that a tenant should follow in order to avoid getting scammed by dishonest landlords.

1) Read your documents: Never pay a security deposit before signing the rental agreement. If you have rented before, you can hopefully recognize some of the features of your standard lease (name of landlord, payment terms, late fee, rules,etc), and you should inspect your documentation to see if it looks legitimate.

2) Check out the property in person:  Checking out the rental property if you can; because you may never get back your money if you are duped.  If you drive by the property, then you can see if there is a rental sign in front of the property. You can see if number matches the online advertisement contact numbers.  Please note that licensed real estate agents can also cooperatively show the property for other brokerages, so if the numbers do not match; you may need to investigate who the person marketing is and what there relationship is. It is okay to use a agent to help you see homes and it is a common practice, but you just need to make sure that you understand that relationship early in the propcess. Also, another advantage of checking out a rental property in person is you maybe able to check with the people in the neighborhood to confirm who owns the property or situation.

3) Check if property ownership information matches online:  Ensure that the property you are renting is a legitimate rental property. The increasing number of foreclosures has encouraged the scammers to rent out properties that do not belong to them. Thus, before renting a house, spare a moment to do investigate if the landlord who is talking to you is the name of the owner in the county records. 

You can use this kind of research to identify irregularities, if any.  The online records may indicate a ownership by the bank is the owners, and this may mean that the landlord no longer owns the home. 

4) If it sounds too good to be true,then it probably is:  It is not an easy task to identify a rental scam.  Often times, we as consumers or tenants get attracted to the astounding offers, attractive prices, and great deals that we open ourselves up to being fooled by the scammers.  One way to check is google the address to see if the listing comes up under as being listed by any agents or brokerages.  You can check the local real estate agents or real estate brokerage site or real estate association sites to verify information about the agent or listing. 

Things you maybe able to determine by doing some research:

  • Is the property is listed on other sites for different prices?   Scammers love to list property for well below market price to entice people to work with them.
  • Is the property listed as a short sale, pre-foreclosure sale?  Scammer love to look for property where people may have vacated home and use that to help perpetrate their scams.  In the case of this landlord in Philly, you may find out that the bank has listed the property for sale or short sale, and the owner or former owner did not have the right to lease it out again.
  • Does the contact information differ? Sometimes scammers will look up information to make it seem like it maybe the owner directly marketing it. They will create fake email addresses that are similar but not exact.  It maybe that the scammers are find their potential target properties by scanning other real estate listing and co-opting them for their purposes.

These are few important tips for tenants so that they can avoid being scammed. Therefore, as future tenants you should always be vigilant to avoid scammers and keep these guidelines in mind next time you look out for a rental property. It also helps to work with licensed real estate brokerages and property managers as they are governed and monitored by state regulatory agencies, so it does provide some  level of comfort that you are working with legitimate parties.

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Tips to Sell Your Home in the Current Housing Market

by jay.raman@ashokalion.com 29, July 2012 20:57

The current real estate market in Dallas and Houston is no doubt favorable for the buyers but at the same time it has made selling a stressful task for the sellers. There are countless homes that stay in the market for a long period before they get sold. Moreover, due to the increasing number of foreclosures, the home values have also gone down terribly.


If you are a seller who is planning to sell your real estate property, you should be careful to stay away from the common mistakes done by sellers while selling their homes.


1.    Accept Your home may have lost value in this market: The value of your home must have been a lot higher in the past; however home values have gone down significantly in the recent times (though reports indicate that prices are creeping back up). Therefore, you should keep this fact in mind and list your home at the current real estate price. If your home is priced higher than the current market price, it will no doubt sit in the market for a longer period till you reduce its selling price.  In addition to not selling it, you will incur cost for maintenance and mortgages, the longer it sits.

2.    Decide an appropriate price by getting the facts: In order to know about the right selling price, you should do some market research to investigate the sales of comparable homes, the price cuts and how long the homes have been sitting in the market. These factors would help you decide the right price for your home. In order to decide the appropriate selling price, it is also important to evaluate your property and compare it to the homes available in the market for sale. You can also take the help of a real estate agent to know the demand of the potential home buyers who are planning to buy a home. Based on the requirements of the potential buyers, you can assess if your home has all the required features to allure the buyers.

3.    Hire an experienced real-estate agent:  While hiring a real estate agent ensure that you hire an experienced agent who is familiar with the area as well as its housing market and one who possesses exceptional marketing skills to promote your house in the housing market.

4.    Allow buyers space while showing your house: This is a grave mistake often committed by sellers and agents. While a prospective buyer tours your home, you or your hired agent should not follow him/her. This helps them to judge the home better.


5.    Use social media to promote your house:  Finding agents and real estate brokerages who are up to date on technology will help imrove your chances of selling. More people are searching online and using technology to find properties than ever before, and this number is not going to go down in the future. For example, utilizing social media and the Internet from cites like YouTube,  Facebook and twitter can help your chances by increasing the marketing exposure for the  home.

6.    Clean your house before showing it to the prospective buyers: It is highly essential to clean your house and keep it in spick and span before each potential buyer visits your house. A clean and tidy house plays a crucial role in attracting buyer.


These are some of the tips that you should keep in mind while selling your home. You should be extremely careful while selling your home as mistake can delay and reduce the possibility of selling your home in a timely manner.

Categories: Sell Property
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