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Real Estate Disputes Archives

Homeowners complain about how Philly banks deal with mortgages


Trying to re-negotiate the terms of a mortgage can be a difficult and often financially punitive process. According to a recently released study by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency of the federal government, an unpleasant experience dealing with a bank about the terms of an existing or new mortgage is the number one complaint about Philadelphia banks as judged by their customers.

Resolving disputed ownership claims for real property


As we have noted before in this blog, land is a unique form of property where mere possession does not necessary indicate ownership. In a city as old as Philadelphia, a single parcel of land may have been sold, subdivided or had its boundaries modified on dozens of occasions. Determining ownership in such cases may be necessary to secure a loan, to obtain development approval from the City or resolve the status of property bequeathed in a will.

Sale of Greylock Estate complicated by liens and easements


A large residential property stands vacant, leaving a mortgage in default and unpaid back taxes. The property is worth more than the accumulated mortgage deficiency and unpaid taxes, so the solution seems simple: sell the property and pay the taxes and mortgage arrearage out of the proceeds. The seeming simplicity of this solution can run into trouble when the property is a historic mansion in Chestnut Hill and any sale can entail a number of real estate disputes.

Developer sues township to recover development costs


A developer who was forced to abandon plans for an ambitious project on land owned by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has now sued the township that repeatedly rejected his proposals. Like many real estate disputes, this lawsuit was generated by frustrated expectations.

Court resolves ambiguity in deficiency judgment procedures


Commercial lenders in Philadelphia and elsewhere routinely protect themselves by requiring borrowers to secure repayment of the loan by granting a mortgage that gives the lender the power to sell the land if the borrower defaults on repayment of the loan. In times of inflating real estate values, a mortgage usually provides adequate protection to the lender.

Developer gets zoning approval but may lose property


The developer of a large mixed use project at the intersection of Broad Street and Washington Avenue in South Philadelphia has obtained final zoning approval for the project from the Zoning Board of Adjustment but may be barred from proceeding by a lawsuit commenced by the owner of the land. The chronology of this property dispute reveals some of the many hazards of developing urban land.

Appeal promised in lawsuit over “councilmanic prerogative”

Members of the Philadelphia City Council possess a unique privilege when the city wants to sell land in their districts. The privilege is called “councilmanic prerogative,” and it gives every member of the council the right to veto any sale by the city of land in the council member’s district. The prerogative recently gave rise to a real estate dispute concerning allegations that one of the council members abused the prerogative by refusing to let the city sell certain land to a developer.

Rule of adverse possession used to protect neighborhood garden


Community gardens have become a common sight in Philadelphia and other cities. The existence of one such garden was recently threatened by one obscure legal rule and then saved - at least temporarily - through the application of another. As real estate disputes go, this one is not large, but it provides an interesting lesson in how to solve them.

Settlement of lawsuits allows work on Merriam Estate to begin


This blog has commented on the struggle between real estate developers and preservationists over whether to preserve historic structures or allow their demolition in favor of new commercial and residential developments. One such real estate dispute in Lower Merion Township has finally been resolved after 13 years of delays caused by the clash of competing interests.

Partnership dispute could derail real estate deal


Many complex real estate deals begin with an informal agreement between the parties to pursue a project. Only after much planning and negotiation is the proposed transaction reduced to writing. Sometimes, however, the course of events doesn't quite live up to the expectations of one or both parties. An example of how an apparently mutually beneficial redevelopment proposal can jump the rails is provided by a real estate dispute that has arisen in suburban Philadelphia.

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