DEAR BOB: Please explain the pros and cons of a land contract home sale. –Dan McF.
DEAR DAN: I do not recommend land contracts, also known as contracts for deed, installment-sales contracts, agreements for sale, and a zillion other names.
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The basic land contract concept is the seller retains title and the buyer makes monthly payments to the seller. If there is an existing mortgage, the seller uses part of the buyer’s payments to pay the mortgage payments.
As a buyer, after you faithfully make all your monthly payments to the seller on time, you could find the seller is unable to deliver marketable title. Or, maybe the seller failed to keep up payments on the underlying mortgage(s) and the lender foreclosed, wiping out your land contract purchase.
Or, if the buyer defaults, in many states a court action is required for the seller to get the defaulting buyer out of the property.
However, when a land contract seller defaults and is unable to deliver marketable title to the buyer, the buyer’s only recourse is to sue the seller for damages. For more details, please consult a local real estate attorney.
PITFALLS OF BUYING A VACATION PROPERTY WITH FRIENDS
DEAR BOB: About four years ago, three of my college fraternity brothers and I bought a vacation home as tenants-in-common. We all have good jobs, pay our share of the expenses, and get along great. Everything worked out well until one co-owner got married about a year ago. We liked his new wife very much until she started demanding a share of the vacation cabin. Her husband quitclaimed to her a one-eighth share and he kept a one-eighth share. But now she wants to force a sale of the vacation home because it has greatly appreciated in market value. Oh, I forgot to tell you, she is a lawyer. She says she will be satisfied if we three remaining co-owners buy out the one-fourth interest of and her husband and herself. Can she force us to buy her out? –Devon H.
DEAR DEVON: Your situation is a classic example why, instead of taking title as tenants-in-common, you four original co-owners should have formed a partnership so a written agreement could provide for situations such as you describe.
Unfortunately for you and the others, any co-owner can bring a partition lawsuit to force the sale of the property. Majority rule does not apply.
If the three remaining co-owners want to keep the vacation home, I suggest you hire an appraiser to determine its fair market value, and then negotiate a buy-out of the troublesome co-owners. For more details, please consult a local real estate attorney.
WHAT IF CONDO BOARD OF DIRECTORS IS OUT OF CONTROL?
DEAR BOB: I own a condo in a 26-unit condo homeowner’s association. Our board of directors is out of control. The building is managed by the association president who controls the checkbook. He pays himself various fees and the treasurer goes along because she is his wife. Unfortunately, they own six of the 26 units. Many owners don’t live in the building so they don’t care how corrupt the operation has become. At the last annual meeting, only 11 owners showed up. But there was a quorum because of proxies given to the association president. What can we do about an out-of-control situation like this? –Vern W.
DEAR VERN: The best solution is to get the absentee owners to participate and vote to elect a new group of directors at the next annual meeting. You might want to consult an attorney who specializes in condominium law, but a lawsuit could be a costly waste of money. Sorry, there is no easy solution to your problem.
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