Boston Real Estate Law News - Find a MA Real Estate Attorney

August 2011 Archives

Hurricane Insurance Coverage -- Wind not Water

Hurricane Irene came and went. To many on the eastern seaboard, it was all bark and no bite. But to others, especially those in New England, the damage to homes and properties from the hurricane was extensive.

As residents dry out, insurers may see a rise in home insurance claims. But probably not as many as you would think, reports the Associated Press. That’s because most hurricane insurance coverage covers damage from hurricane winds, but not from floods. So if your home was damaged by a flood, you may be out of luck without hurricane flood insurance.

Saugus Walmart Construction Approved by Planning Board

The Saugus Walmart construction looks like it is one step closer to becoming a reality. The town planning board unanimously voted to approve plans for a 114,000 square foot store along Route 1.

The patch of land for the proposed Walmart has previously been approved for a 82,000 square foot building, reports the Saugus Advertiser. However, because Walmart planned to construct a “super center” on the site, exceeding the size limitations, the company and the owners of the property needed the approval of the town.

The Right Massachusetts Homeowners Insurance for You?

An earthquake struck Virginia of all places and was felt as far away as Boston. Now Hurricane Irene is just days away from possibly hitting New England, and you may thinking whether it’s time to get Massachusetts homeowners insurance. But with so many choices out there, which type is right for you?

Generally, homeowners insurance is a package deal designed to pay for the repair or replacement of your house and belongings in case of damage. It can also cover claims and legal judgments against you for injuries people suffer in your home such as from dog bites. How much the insurer pays depends, of course, on the limits of your policy, which in turn depends on how much you pay for the insurance.

Weymouth Delinquent Taxpayers List Targets Vacant Landowner

Vacant landowners are under attack in Massachusetts. Brockton Mayor Lisa Balzotti is pushing for an abandoned homes registry that requires a $150 fee from owners of empty homes. Now the Town of Weymouth has instituted a delinquent taxpayers list that targets vacant landowners.

Weymouth will publish on its website a list of property owners who have failed to pay property taxes. The list only includes properties that the town has taken a lien against -- usually after repeated, failed attempts to contact the landowners, reports The Patriot Ledger. About half of the 193 properties listed are vacant lots.

Brockton Mayor Proposes Abandoned Property Registry

Brockton Mayor Linda Balzotti is pushing for new abandoned property law that would establish a registry for vacant and unused properties. The abandoned property registry would serve dual purposes of tracking abandoned homes as well as curbing the urban blight of ugly, unkempt land.

The proposed ordinance would require owners of vacant homes to register their homes on the city list and pay a $150 registration fee, reports The Enterprise. This fee would pay for the costs of the city to monitor the property as well as pay any up-front maintenance costs.

Top 5 Rental Tips for Baby Boomers

As property values decrease, kids move out, and we get older, more and more baby boomers are trading down from four bedroom homes to one bedroom rentals.

It's basically much easier to rent a home and have someone else worry about the upkeep of the property, snow shoveling, and home maintenance. It's also much easier to clean a smaller space when you're an empty nester and have no need for extra rooms that collect dust.

Cell Tower Health Risks Ignored in Man's Zoning Fight

Lexington resident Dave Walko retired and bought a two-bedroom unit at Muzzy High Condominium complex. But soon after moving in, the former Director of Athletic Development at Boston University developed cancer. After discovering that a dome 40-feet away from his bedroom was masquerading as a cell tower, Walko linked the cell tower health risks with his cancer.

Already feeling discomfort from hypersensitivity to cell phone and computer radiation, Walko was further irritated in May when the Lexington Zoning Board granted AT&T the right to add three more antennas in that dome, reports Wicked Local.

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced a settlement with a subprime lender that may result in relief for 3,000 Option One mortgage holders. The Option One lawsuit will result in the company paying $9.8 million as well as agreeing to modify the terms of several thousand mortgages.

According to The Patriot Ledger, Option One was one of the country's largest subprime lenders before the collapse of the real estate market in 2008. In her lawsuit against the company, Coakley claimed that Option One issued mortgages while ignoring the financial realities of borrowers and their ability to repay the loans. As a result many borrowers ended up with homes they couldn't afford and mortgage payments they couldn't pay, leading to foreclosures and ruined credit.

Do Foreclosures Affect Property Values in MA?

After holding back from foreclosures, recent data seems to indicate that Massachusetts banks are once again taking homes away from delinquent homeowners as shown by a spike in foreclosure activity across parts of the state. But do foreclosures affect property values of the surrounding neighborhood?

According to the MetroWest Daily News, the answer could be yes -- increased foreclosures may drive neighboring property values down.

In fact, increased foreclosures may cause a vicious cycle where decreased property values cause more people to walk away from their homes, which leads to a further decrease in property values and a further increase in foreclosures.

Boston Home Prices Still Down for the Year

Boston home prices are down slightly more than one percent since last July. The Boston Globe reports that home prices staged a predictable comeback during the spring, but that home prices are still down when compared to last July.

According to the Globe, a survey revealed that Boston home prices rose 7.6% from winter to spring. However, prices fell 1.4% when compared to July 2010.

Buying a Home in Boston, the Dearth of Move-Up Buyers

Those buying a home in Boston are increasingly first-time home buyers. The Boston Globe reports that current homeowners looking to upgrade, known as move-up buyers, are becoming rare in this poor housing market dominated by buyers with fewer responsibilities (and fewer mortgages).

According to the Globe, a poor housing market suits first-time buyers because they only have to give notice to their landlords prior to a move and do not have to worry about selling their homes in a buyer's market. Unlike a current homeowner, a decrease in home values does not affect their net worth.