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The New FNMA Guideline Everyone Should be Aware of Before Buying a Condo

by Michael H Wasserman Tragedy in Sunrise, Florida and now Waukesha, Wisconsin . Authorities ordered the emergency evacuation of another condominium building late last week. Deemed to be at risk of imminent collapse. Structural and life safety problems noted after a wind storm sheared some exterior elements off a couple of years ago. Led to a balcony reconstruction project, which in turn revealed far worse structural deterioration. Of a building (only) 50 years old. 80 or so people forced to leave their homes with no advance warning. Fannie Mae’s October lender letter tightened lending guidelines in buildings with too much deferred maintenance. Inadequate reserves. Associations lacking the political will to take on the challenges of funding and orchestrating necessary structural and safety repairs. Whether they are brought to light by municipal inspections or the associations own investigations or capital reserve studies. Fannie will not loan money into buildings with structural defect
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Six Ways That Unsolicited Purchase Offer Might Not Be As Great A Deal As You Hoped For

by Michael H. Wasserman Flippers. Wholesalers. I-buying fin-tech disrupters. Publicly traded REITS. Private equity firms. Boot-strap investors. All out on the prowl for opportunities. It's never been easier for Chicago area owners to sell homes directly. But should you? What can possibly go wrong? Read on to learn the unpleasant truth, and the things you can do to make the most of these no-broker deals. It may start with a series of unsolicited offers. Out of the blue. First a letter. Then another. (Look – this one's on yellow stationary!) A note left in the mailbox. A knock at the door. Maybe the allure of those ads on tv and the net. That billboard you keep driving past. Same deal. "We'd like to buy your house. Just us. No middlemen. No realtors. You won't have to pay anyone's commission. We can pay all cash. Close in two weeks if you want. What do say"? The money sure would be nice. More house than you need. Getting harder to keep it up. Money i

They Asked for What?

 by Michael H. Wasserman A pervasive problem for some in contemporary society splits us into two camps. One particular segment of the community. They may be your friends, your neighbors, your co-parishioners. They are fully aware of the environment we live in. They read the same things you do. They receive the same guidances we all do. They take wildly different views of what those writings mean. Who they apply to. They are not easily persuaded by reason or the advice of experts. While they acknowledge legal obligations they still want to “do their own thing,” often to the detriment of others they engage with.   You know who I am talking about. Unrestrained buyers who ask for the sun, the moon and all the stars based on property inspections without regard to the terms of their inspection contingency or as-is contract. Sellers expect buyers to abide by inspection contingency terms of the contract they (the buyers) offered. If the deal is “as is,” sellers expect not to hear a thing.

Who's in Charge of Fixing Miami's Aging Condos? (and what about here in Chicago?)

by Michael H. Wasserman  An interesting 20 minute podcast here . The disaster in Miami calls to light a critical challenge for all condo owners, including owners here in Chicago. Who decides if repairs and who pays? Hint: the owners. These are two really tough questions to answer. Particularly because condos are for the most part run by untrained volunteers. Few have experience apartment buildings. These volunteers have to not only appreciate the need for action but must then convince their co-owners that the necessary costs must be paid. Think these sorts of deferred (ignored) maintenance problems don't effect us localy? Consider the deconversions of Keneally Square or River City back in 2017 & 2018. The over-whelming costs of long deferred maintenance forced owners to sell out at a loss. Thankfully, no loss of life, but still disastrous outcomes. This is one of many reasons why Buyers should inspect condo common elements, financial records and meeting minutes. Understandin

Ink Color Matters

by Michael H. Wasserman  It turns out that ink color really does matter. At least it does for Kane County recordings. This alert from one of our favorite title companies today: **It has just come to our attention that Kane County will charge an additional $22 if deeds are signed in blue ink.**  I assume that this policy would also apply to deeds signed in red, green, purple or whatever too. This seemed odd. Why would the County single out blue inked deeds and but not mortgages or other documents? So i called the recorder to find out. Perhaps a slight mis-understanding here. Blue ink used in signatures and dates should be OK. Both for grantors and notaries. Its those corrections of scrivener's errors. Language adding vesting information. "Mail-to's" and the like. Making those marks in blue is going to cost you. Or the Buyer. In Kane County those markings render the document non-standard and will incur a recording surcharge. Blue ink or black. Just one of those eterna


  Court Clobbers Kayaker. Concludes Competitor's Contiguous Keep Cannot be Crossed by Michael H. Wasserman The sun sets majestically. You take another sip of lemonade. Your attention focuses on the gentle wind blowing thru the trees. The noise of water coursing along river at the far end of the property. The blissful payoff for a long long week at work. The calm evaporates when you open the letter – a cease and desist order from a neighbor’s lawyer. You are directed to stay off their property. This puzzles you. You’ve been here three months and never once set foot on their land, barely even know which place is theirs. You haven’t been to any neighbors yet. Just the new place and the river. And this, my friend was your downfall. The neighbor does not want you to boat past his place. Turns out, owning riverfront property does not necessarily confer access right upstream or down. The neighbors might have a thing or two to say about it too. In these circumstances, absent permission, t


The streak is over. Closing lawyers and owners who do not escrow for property taxes celebrate. We are often asked - when will Cook County 2nd installment property tax bills come out? For most of my career, the best answer was a shrug of the shoulders and a warm smile. None of us knew. Mail-out dates were erratic. Theoretically due out July 1st billing. Rarely that early. Erratic. Unpredictable. August? Maybe. September? As late as November - once, anyway. Your guess as good as mine. But for nine years running tax bills were released online in late June (often the 30th). Due August 1st or there-abouts. Consistency is to be appreciated in most contexts, but especially stressful for closing lawyers and title company escrow officers. Unpaid taxes are allocated between buyers and sellers at closing and June 30th is one of our busiest days in the business. Tax bills data released early in the morning mean last minute revised computations, revised closing statements, further lender reviews a