Lawsuits regarding nondisclosure of a home’s problems are becoming more prevalent. Historically, the rule of “caveat emptor” or “buyer beware” was the prevailing standard in residential transactions. However, the law has evolved and Florida now requires sellers of residential property to make certain disclosures to buyers about the property’s condition and history. An increasing number
David K. Fowler is Board Certified in Real Estate Law. He concentrates his practice in the areas of transactional real estate representing buyers, sellers and developers; condominium and community association law representing condominium, timeshare and homeowner associations; title insurance claims and underwriting; and construction contracts. David also assists lenders with commercial and residential loan transactions, forbearance, loan restructuring and workouts.
David also writes for and serves as editor of the firm's real estate blog, The Legal Scoop on Southwest Florida Real Estate and newsletter, The Lender's Perspective. He is AV rated by Martindale Hubbell. David has also been recognized by Best Lawyers in America® for his work in real estate law (2013-2016).
In passing the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, Congress created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The purpose of the CFPB was to safeguard consumers against fraud and other predatory practices by financial institutions.
The CFPB recently issued a final rule which will require residential mortgage lenders to begin…
Most real estate savvy folks are familiar with the phrase “caveat emptor” or “buyer beware,” as applied to real estate transactions. Buyers are routinely advised to scrutinize their purchases through property inspections, review of zoning, permitting and code compliance of the property in addition to obtaining title insurance. However, when leasing property, tenants typically focus…
By now most everyone knows that a short sale occurs where the proceeds from the sale of a property are less than the debt owed on the property. Short sales have seen rapid growth recently as both investors and lenders turn to them as a way to maximize returns over foreclosure sales. As short sales have increased, so have short sale scams. Therefore, prudent homeowners, prospective buyers and real estate agents should be vigilant to avoid short sale scams.
Some examples of short sale fraud schemes include:
- Flopping. When a property is flipped illegally, it is sold for an inflated value in order to obtain a mortgage in excess of the property’s real value. When the seller, who is often in on the scheme, is paid at closing, the difference between the actual selling price and the loan amount is split between the fraudsters. When a property is flopped, it is usually owned by an underwater borrower who has asked the lender to approve a short-sale at a price less than what is owed. In this scenario, the fraudster, which may be the owner, real estate agent, or both, supply one or more opinions of valuation that show the property to be worth significantly less than its actual fair market valuation. When the lender agrees to take the lower price, the fraudster purchases the property in his name or that of a straw buyer, thereafter flips the property to an arm-length purchaser at a higher price than the one negotiated with the lender, and pockets the difference. Like flipping, flopping is the intentional misrepresentation of a property’s true market value. However, whereas flipping usually takes place when housing prices are rising, flopping occurs when values are depressed.
Florida’s Construction Lien Law is intended to provide a balance of protections for owners, contractors, subcontractors and material suppliers. Commercial landlords and lenders should be aware of recent changes to the Construction Lien Law which, in certain circumstances, have tipped the scale against their interests.
One of the most common problems faced by a commercial landlord is when a tenant’s contractor (or a subcontractor, supplier or laborer) records a construction lien against the landlord’s interest in the property. Such lien encumbers or “clouds” the landlord’s title to the property and can prevent the sale or refinancing of the property. It can also create a default under the landlord’s mortgage.