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John Muscarella's Blog

By John F. Muscarella | Broker in Plymouth, MA
  • the "Real Realtor" Plymouth MA, Cape Cod Real Estate - Tis The Spirit

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Plymouth County, Home Selling in Plymouth County, Foreclosure in Plymouth County  |  December 22, 2011 7:54 AM  |  430 views  |  2 comments

    At this point in the year I tend to subjectively reflect back over the year and measure myself against the plan and objectives I had set for myself in my real estate practice in Plymouth MA and Cape Cod.  I say subjectively as I cut myself a bit of slack allowing for the spirit of the Holiday Season and just being human.  We all earn this at least once per year.  There will be plenty of time for more stringent review and a healthy objective look at performance in the 2012 plan.

    In a world seemingly moving from one debacle to another, economic uncertainty, widespread unemployment and a struggling housing market, I consider myself to be incredibly fortunate on several fronts.  I live and work in an area that, for the most part, has run contrary to all but four other markets across the country in terms of real estate. So while the South Shore and Cape Cod has had some issues, I had plenty of business.

    Secondly, I launched a new company that has had a very successful first year, in fact it has been the most successful year I have had in the real estate business!  I hired three agents and will likely add two more in 2012.  I wish to manage growth and I’m not looking to build a huge franchise here.  Rather, it’s working with great people and having the personal freedom of your own business.

    Lastly, it’s all about the clients…  While I have always enjoyed working directly with clients and people in general, this year brought a rich diversity of clients and each in their own way challenged me and taught me lessons that I thought I had known.

     It 
    was not a usual year in real estate. 

    The year began with a short sale that tore at my heart as I watched an entire family come apart.  Thankfully the children were older and could be of some help to the parents.  But watching them move out of the family home they had built on the shore and seeing them struggle with being totally unsettled was painful.  The only saving grace was the buyer was all cash and we were successful in getting the transaction closed within two weeks.  A record for a short sale to be sure. 

    I helped two recently retired couples find their last home, knowing how important this was and what they had left behind and what the future looked like for them.  Both had taken over a year to find just the right location and I’m pleased to say they are happy and looking forward to their new lives.  One client, following a conversation on fly-fishing surprised me with a rod and reel as a gift post closing.  I was very touched by this.

    It’s always challenging working with first time buyers.  What with financing issues, finding properties in their price range and helping with the nerves and fear of such a large purchase.  I had several of these this year but one was interesting in that the home they first bought was found to be part of the foreclosure documentation mess. Their seller actually did not own the home.  So we simply found them another (totally renovated) home that turned out to be even better than their first choice. 

    Then there was the beach home that had been built by the buyer’s grandfather and had been sold out of the family.  The buyer had dutifully watched sales in the area for several years waiting/hoping for the property to come on market.  I’m happy to say it’s back in the family.

    I met new Realtors and made new friends this year.  And I lost several friends this year due to cancer.  I am fortunate to have a vibrant and loving family that enjoys life, plays hard, works hard and knows the value of family.  Tis indeed the Spirit not necessarily the season. 

    I’ll see you in and around Plymouth MA and Cape Cod real estate soon enough.

    Warm wishes to you and your family this Holiday Season.    
  • Buying Foreclosures? Do Your Homework

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Plymouth, Foreclosure in Plymouth  |  September 20, 2011 11:40 AM  |  316 views  |  No comments
    I had a great experience with one of my buyers this past week. We were a week from closing on their first home when their lender’s closing attorney sent them an email followed by a phone call. My buyer’s loan was going to be denied due to a title issue on the property they had under agreement for over a month; nothing to do with their credit or qualifications. Turns out it was an “Ibanez Case” property and a clear, certified title may not ever be given. The seller best have homeowners title insurance as the legal fees are going to be substantial. Not to mention the time it may take to resolve – if it can be resolved. Not a pretty picture for the seller but at least my buyers did not end up in the same predicament had they bought the property.

    So what is this Ibanez Case you ask? Well if you are interested in or about to buy a foreclosed property you best do your homework and have an attorney working with you. The Seller of this property had purchased it some 2 years ago in 2009 as a foreclosure and due to life changes wanted to sell the property. In January of 2011, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) ruled against foreclosing lenders and those purchasing foreclosures in Massachusetts in U.S. Bank v. Ibanez.

    I’m not an attorney so I will summarize the important details and if interested you can Google the case and test your legal knowledge and vocabulary. The issue decided by the Court was over the validity of foreclosures when the mortgages are part of securitized mortgage lending pools. Most loans today are sold on the secondary market to Wall Street investors. Ownership of mortgage loans are typically divided and transferred multiple times on the lenders’ books. But the mortgage loan documentation actually on file at the Registry of Deeds is often not up to date.

    In the Ibanez case, the mortgage assignment to the lender was not recorded until over a year after the foreclosure process had started. In looking at this process it now appears this is a common practice across the U.S. with many lenders – Buyers Beware. Mr. Ibanez as the distressed homeowner challenged the validity of the foreclosure, arguing U.S. Bank could not foreclose because it lacked any evidence it ever owned the mortgage and the loan at the time it began the foreclosure. Mr. Ibanez won his case in a lower court and on appeal the SJC ruled that lenders must prove ownership and must own the mortgage before they can foreclose.

    Additionally, this ruling was applied retroactively. Those who have unknowingly bought foreclosed properties with an Ibanez title issue – you do not own your home. The previous owners who were foreclosed still own it. And, as in my buyer’s case – the seller thought they owned the home and this issue never came up until trying to sell the home. My buyers attorney caught this title issue and …

    This will no doubt result in actions taken against the foreclosing banks, and/or the foreclosing attorneys. Current owners could attempt to get a deed from the previous owner, re-doing the foreclosure.

    This is a mess to be certain and may take a few years to resolve. I would tell anyone buying a foreclosure to have an attorney run a title search prior to even entering an offer on the property. My buyers moved on and bought another property. Though they have to wait 30 days to get their deposit back. This due to language in standard Purchase & Sales Agreements giving the seller time to cure title defects. But this delay is only to kick in the insurance claim if the seller has homeowners title insurance. All attorneys agree that they cannot certify title and the lender will not issue a mortgage. The buyers will get their deposit back and have learned a valuable lesson in real estate.

    Please feel comfortable contacting me with questions, more information or just to chat.
    Email: johnm@RiverFarmProperties.com
    Tel/Txt: 617.671.5711
 
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