I attended the Pocono Mountains Association of REALTORS' Annual Legal Seminar in February and thought I would pass on the excellent information that was presented by the Attorney Panel, made up of William B. Cramer, Esquire, Louis D. Powlette, Esquire, and Jane Roach Maughan, Esquire, three highly regarded real estate attorneys (and, coincidentally, all Villanova University graduates!) based in Stroudsburg, PA. The Association hosts this seminar every year and inevitably we agents are treated a wealth of timely information to enhance our ability to provide service to our clients, and/or we get the pants scared off of us from hearing about some of the perils and lawsuits going on with regard to real estate. This year was a doozy because we got an earful of both! As you will read, the subject matter was timely, indeed.
Since there is so much information to share, I will split it in to three articles, each of which will cover the presentation by one of the attorneys on the panel. This is the first part of the three part series: Common Pitfalls of the Real Estate Transaction
Attorney Cramer, who I'd like to point out has served as Counsel to the Pocono Mountains Association of REALTORS since the 1980's, gave us an overview of some of the most common issues he observes in working with buyers and sellers in real estate transactions here in the Poconos:
Agreement of Sale & Related Documents
Real estate contracts and related paperwork need to be filled in properly, legibly and with dates, etc that make sense. Time is of the essence in Pennsylvania and transactional difficulties can be largely avoided by paying close attention to the paperwork. (This is a pretty basic Pennsylvania real estate concept, but we hear this every year. I guess it must be an ongoing problem.)
Proof of Property Ownership
Take the stress out of the transaction by getting documentation with regard to property ownership at the time the property is listed for sale. Sellers need to provide Death Certificates, Powers of Attorneys, Articles of Incorporation, etc at the signing of the contract, proving ownership and signing rights for properties owned by Heirs, Estates and Corporations. These documents will be required at the closing so it is best to have them ready and in the file early on. A common scenario here in the Poconos is that an owner of a property lives in New York or some other State. If that owner dies and in order for that property to be sold, you need an authorized signatory for the Estate. If you don't know this ahead of time and wait until it is time to close, you can often be faced with long delays as these details are worked out and the proper paperwork is produced. Ownership Documentation that is recordable, or in other words, legally acceptable as proof of ownership, is necessary for clear title to the property to be conveyed.
Certificates of Occupancy
These are now required in the Borough of East Stroudsburg. A Code Enforcement Inspection must be ordered at least 15 days before closing to ensure that the property complies with eight specific requirements. Be aware of this new law as failure to do so can hold up and even sometimes prevent closings. Things can get a little tricky when the property being conveyed is a foreclosure, as these sales are often done on an 'as-is' basis. The Ordinance does allow for these scenarios, but there are specific conditions to be met. So being well aware ahead of time is in everyone's best interest, whether they are buying or selling the home. Ordinance § 122.14: Download Prop. Ordinance Requiring CO Upon Sale of Property
Contact Attorney Cramer at:
Cramer, Swetz & McManus, PC
Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania 18360-2196
Please Subscribe to the Poconos Real Estate Blog to ensure that you don't miss the rest of this series. Part II will cover Attorney Powlette's eye-opening presentation on title insurance and short sales. Part III will cover Attorney Maughan's inspiring presentation on avoiding foreclosure.