DEAR BOB: Can a home builder force us to buy the home? We have reached our boiling points with our builder. The mortgage monthly payments are too high and we decided not to purchase the home –Chandra K.

DEAR CHANDRA: Of course, you can’t be “forced” to buy a house you don’t want.

Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.

However, if you signed a valid purchase contract that was accepted by the home builder, you can be held liable to the builder for monetary damages due to your unjustified breach-of-contract damages.

Surely, before you signed a purchase contract with the builder you knew what your monthly mortgage payments would be.

If you got “cold feet” while waiting for your new home to be completed and changed your mind about completing the purchase, you can be held liable to the builder for damages due to your cancellation of the purchase contract. Before defaulting, I suggest you consult a local real estate attorney to discuss your choices.

HOW TO KNOW IF YOUR DEED WAS RECORDED

DEAR BOB: How do I know if my deed was recorded? Doesn’t that get taken care of after signing the closing papers? I bought my condominium on Sept. 28, 2005. But I haven’t received any proof that I own it. Shouldn’t I have received the deed or something in the mail showing my deed was recorded? –Gay N.

DEAR GAY: The exact procedures vary by locality. In most states, the local recorder of deeds now makes a digital record of the deed as it is recorded. Then the original is usually mailed to the owner or to the mortgage lender whose name and address appears on the deed.

My experience has been this can take several weeks or even months, depending on how busy the recorder of deeds is. But you should have received proof of the recording long ago.

If you ordered an owner’s title insurance policy at the time of purchase, as you should have, then you’d have received that title policy, which shows you now own the condominium. In addition, you should have a copy of the closing settlement papers.

I suggest you contact the firm that handled your title transfer. Maybe it is holding the deed from the recorder’s office.

However, in “title theory” states, the mortgage lender often holds the deed until the mortgage or deed of trust obligation is paid in full. But it won’t hurt to follow up now to learn where your deed is located and to be sure was properly recorded.

DO CO-JOINED DRIVEWAYS LOWER A HOME’S VALUE?

DEAR BOB: I have lived in my house 27 years and never thought a co-joined driveway was detrimental, but this all came to an end when a new owner moved in next door. He immediately converted his garage to a live-in unit and rented it out. Then he installed a swimming pool. Now he invites 25 guests at a time when the weather is good. They fill his driveway to capacity and spill out into the street. He rents out other bedrooms. Now the house has no garage. There are always four or more cars parked in our co-joined driveway. Is this detrimental to my home’s value? –Colin W.

DEAR COLIN: I am not sure what you mean by “co-joined driveways.” If you own half of the shared driveway, and the neighbor owns the other half, with the lot boundary line down the middle, what would stop you from erecting a chain link fence down the middle of the wide driveway?

Of course, before doing that be sure to check your title to be certain you and the neighbor don’t have mutual easements to use each other’s half of the driveway.

Have you had a polite conversation with the new neighbor to discuss your concerns? Maybe he is not aware of the problems he is creating for you. In the conversation, don’t threaten but just point out the problems all the cars parked in the driveway are causing.

Before you take any action, such as contacting the city about the conversion of the garage to a residential unit without a building permit, or erecting a fence down the middle of the shared driveway along the lot boundary, please consult a local real estate attorney to determine your legal rights.

The new Robert Bruss special report, “When It’s Smart to Prepay or Refinance Your Mortgage,” is now available for $5 from Robert Bruss, 251 Park Road, Burlingame, CA 94010 or by credit card at 1-800-736-1736 or instant Internet delivery at www.BobBruss.com. Questions for this column are welcome at either address.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center
).

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