Monday, October 13, 2008

Child Custody & Visitation Public Exchange Location

Any parent involved in a child custody visitation situation, should definitely take a look at this blog by Lee Rosen.
This provides the link to a very informative program called Meetways, which can point you to a halfway location based on the location of each parent. There are also many other useful ways to use Meetways, including finding halfway points for business meetings, etc.

Check it out!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Is Dual Agency Fair?

I recently had a situation where a buyer came to me and did not think that she was getting fair representation from her real estate agent. The agent was acting on behalf of both the buyer and seller on the transaction. I must also add here that the agent was related to the seller, which only added to the buyer's doubts in this situation. Is it possible for a real estate agent to represent the best interests of both buyer and seller during the same transaction? Is it legal for the agent to do so?

Dual agency is the process by which the buyer and seller are represented by the same real estate agent. One real estate agent is campaigning for the best interest of the buyer and the seller at the same time in one real estate transaction. Is this legal in Louisiana? According to LSA-R.S. 9:3897(A), an agent "may act as a dual agent only with the informed written consent of all clients." The statute goes on to mention that the informed consent form has to include specific language regarding what the dual agent should be doing for the clients when involved in representing both sides of the transaction.

My best guess is that my buyer in the above situation did not feel she was being represented fairly due to conflicting interests of both the buyer and seller in the transaction. Moreover, there were some issues with repairs to the subject property of the sales transaction and the agent was negotiatiating for the best interest of both the buyer and the seller in trying to resolve the repair issues. The buyer felt she was being hung out to dry in that the agent was leaning more towards the seller and trying to protect the seller's interest in the transaction.

Whether you choose to put yourself in the situation of dual agency or not, you need to remember the following:

  • The agent must disclose the dual agency

  • The agent must get your consent to the dual agency in writing

  • The agent has an ethical duty to represent both buyer and seller "fairly"
  • The agent shall not disclose confidential information about either party without their consent

  • If you feel you are not getting fair representation by the agent, let the agent know

  • If the unfair representation continues, contact the agent's broker

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Do you NEED title insurance?

Do you NEED title insurance?

Short answer: YES.

Long answer: Let's explore what title insurance IS. It's basically an insurance policy that protects you (owner of property) or your lender against a loss from a problem or issue with the title to your property. If you are getting a mortgage on your property, you are also getting title insurance. All mortgage lenders require title insurance to insure them against any losses sustained if title problems arise.

But my attorney did a title search, so the title should be good, right?

WRONG. Your attorney may search the public records for your chain of title, but there are several issues that can occur outside of what the attorney can search in the public records. For instance, forgery or unrecorded easements and access rights. An attorney cannot determine from the face of the documents alone if a forgery or fraud in a signature has occurred.

My lender has title insurance so I don't need owner's protection.

WRONG. The lender's title insurance is just that. It protects the LENDER. If you have a large amount of equity in the property, owner's insurance is always a safe bet to protect you against any losses to your equity in the property.

How long is the policy good for?

The policy will last the entire time you own the property. You initially pay a one time fee when you purchase the property. The lender's insurance is usually purchased in an amount to cover the amount mortgaged, however, owner's title insurance is usually purchased in an amount to cover the purchase price of the property.