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Philadelphia Real Estate Blog

State Supreme Court says historical association should keep land

The concept of eminent domain may still seem to be difficult to comprehend for many in Philadelphia. While may be understandable why local governments would want to take dilapidated properties and use the land for public works projects, many may still fail to see how people who are living on coveted land (and paying property tax on it) can be forced to sell it and relocate when they do not want to. Ultimately it comes down to a question of land use. 

The laws governing eminent domain (or more specifically, the standards government entities must meet before invoking it) differ from state-to-state. A recent case showed those in New York to be being able to demonstrate a community benefit and, on the flip side, a diminished environmental impact. That was the case village officials tried to make when justifying their attempt to try and bur a parcel of land owned by a local historical association. The state Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of the association, agreeing that the village's represented had not sufficiently support their claims that their proposed parking garage would not impact the environment and would not contribute to traffic problems. The historical association bought the land over 11 years with the intention of building a museum. That plan has yet to materialize. 

Is handing over power of attorney right for me?

Granting another person your power of attorney is a major decision that should not be taken lightly. The benefits of doing so, however, may save you future hardship or help you through a difficult time now.

To give someone your “power of attorney” means to give another individual the right to legally act on their behalf. People often do this when they expect someone else to be able to make more informed decisions for them, or when they are simply unable (due to medical issues or time constraints) to speak on an issue themselves.

Do you need title insurance?

When you are preparing to purchase residential real estate in Pennsylvania, you may be advised to obtain title insurance on your purchase. Yet what is title insurance, and why would you need it when you have a binding purchase contract? What can title insurance protect you against?

Pennsylvania state code defines title insurance as insurance that protects you, as the buyer, against any liens, defects in title marketability, encumbrances, incorrect title information, or other conditions applying to the property. What this essentially means is that if the property owner sells the property to you when it has liens or other provisions that would complicate or otherwise prevent the legal sale of the property, you are not liable for said liens, encumbrances, or other matters.

The murky world of ancient mortgages

The phrase “ancient mortgages” evokes images of old record books with hidden secrets stored in a forgotten sub-basement of a bank or government building. In actuality, ancient mortgages most often lurk in digital databases and only rarely surface, most notably when someone wants to sell their property that was thought of as paid off years ago.

These home loans do not have to be over a hundred years old to qualify as ancient. Here are some questions and answers about what mortgages are ancient and why they can be a problem.

Does unpaid child support interfere with travel?

For non-custodial parents who have fallen behind on child support payments, a number of questions may be on their mind. For example, people going through this may worry about being taken into custody or wonder how their inability to pay child support will affect their lives in other ways. For example, they may be unable to apply for a U.S. passport, which could spell disaster for those who have important travel plans. Pennsylvania parents who are struggling with child support payments should go over their options and do their best to address the situation.

According to the U.S. Department of State, a parent who has $2,500 or more worth of back child support will be unable to receive a U.S. passport. For parents who owe too much unpaid child support to successfully apply for a passport, making arrangements to pay arrears in a timely manner is essential. Moreover, it can take weeks for your passport application to be processed once you have made proper payment arrangements.

Tips for avoiding legal conflicts with contractors

The world of real estate can be lucrative, but is also fraught with legal complications that can drain your wallet. Even a minor dispute can be long, tedious and expensive. Sometimes, these disputes arise from issues with a project’s contractor.

When most people are hiring contractors, they do not focus on the possibility of a lawsuit. But in our litigious world, legal tussles are increasingly common. It is helpful to have a few general tips on hand for how to avoid legal conflicts with a contractor.

What is a latent defect, and how can it hurt home buyers?

You are frequently warned to be wary of deceptive practices and dishonest sellers when buying a home. Yet it seems as though Pennsylvania real estate law regarding disclosure would provide adequate protections from sellers trying to sell you a home riddled with material defects, which can cause significant danger to occupants. But what about disclosure of latent defects? What are latent defects, and how can they hurt you as a buyer?

A latent defect is, per Pennsylvania residential real estate transfer law, hidden defects that cannot be identified during a reasonably thorough home inspection without consulting an expert in particular matters. An example of one such defect might be corrosion inside buried pipes without an apparent leak or seepage to point to the damage, or pooling water hidden underneath floorboards. It is possible for a seller to sell you a property with no knowledge of this latent damage.

Understanding eminent domain

The concept of eminent domain can seem daunting to property owners. In Pennsylvania, eminent domain encompasses the laws and statutes that allow the state government to seize private property for specific purposes, including what conditions make this acceptable and what conditions do not - as well as whether or not the government is required to compensate property owners for the seizure.

Per Pennsylvania state code, the government may condemn and seize property for the sake of public improvement or to eliminate blight. Public improvement can include tearing down unsafe and derelict properties, or it can include implementation of public works such as highways, schools, parks and other civic works activities. While in some cases non-government entities can enact eminent domain, specific prohibitions prevent taking of properties for private business use in most cases.

Investment tips for new real estate entrepreneurs

Many would-be entrepreneurs underestimate just how complex real estate investment can be. They believe that they can simply purchase a low-priced house, gussy it up and sell it at a profit. The process of becoming a successful real estate entrepreneur is actually very complicated—and very risky.

Without the proper knowledge, your investment deal could easily flop. There are a few important things that every novice entrepreneur should know about before investing. Here are a few helpful tips for you as a new real estate investor.

What is a "quiet title" action?

Anyone involved in a real estate title dispute in Pennsylvania may have heard the recommendation that they file a "quiet title" action. A quiet title action is an extremely effective way of resolving all kinds of disputes involving title to real estate. But what is a "quiet title" action and why is it called a "quiet title" action?

As described in Philadelphia court documents, a quiet title action is a legal action designed to settle land title disputes and to "quiet" any challenges to someone's rightful ownership. This action is often taken to resolve disputes involving a fraudulent conveyance of the title to a piece of property and to resolve ambiguities as to who actually owns a contested piece of land. If the person seeking to quiet title can prove that the current title is defective in some way, then he or she may be able to claim ownership of the property from the person or persons who currently hold the title.

This can be especially useful if you lost the title to a property through coercion, or if someone has committed theft of your property by forging the deed. This can also apply to cases in which allocation of property during disposition of a will is challenged due to claims of undue influence over decedents and their decisions regarding their estate. You can also quiet the title to remove certain mortgages and other liens that should have been, but were not, satisfied and you are unable to locate the mortgage or lien holder.

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