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St. Louis Real Estate And Estate Planning Blog

Consumer home-buying power remains high

Missouri residents may not have forgotten the sting of the Great Recession which makes it understandable that they keep a close eye on the current and future economic outlook, especially when it comes to buying and selling homes. Mortgage News Daily recently announced that the government hiked the interest rate to its highest level in a month. Some people might be concerned that this could negatively impact their ability to sell or buy a home

Certainly home buyers always want to secure the lowest possible interest rate for their mortgages as that can save them a great amount of money over the course of many months and years. However, this emphasis on a low interest rate is not the only thing to evaluate when tracking the strength of the housing market.

When to hire a lawyer for a real estate matter

Many people buy and sell homes everyday without an attorney, but there are times when having a lawyer in a real estate transaction is important. Getting a real estate attorney on board early in a property transaction can prevent many potential legal headaches.

Whether you are just entering into a real estate transaction or you are trying to solve problems related to a previous transaction, a qualified real estate attorney can assist you. Here are a few cases in which you may find it useful to consult with this type of lawyer.

Reasons to avoid probate

Discussing any stage of estate plans can prove difficult for many families. No matter the point of life at which the planning began, family members can often walk away with more questions than answers. Some Missouri residents grappling with this process may be wondering what specific boxes need checking. Others may be wary of the detailed steps involved. The following pointers provide residents with general information on estate planning, as well as how to avoid potential speed bumps along the way. 

NerdWallet dives into the topic of estate planning, and more specifically, probate. In general, most would prefer to avoid probate in any way possible; NerdWallet explains that most individuals attempt to preserve assets for future family members. Because probate usually occurs when a person dies intestate, the procedure of validating a will may involve an estate executor or attorney. Depending on a person's estate, the process of probate can become time-consuming.

Protecting your aging parents from financial abuse

It can be heartbreaking to see your parents become less independent as they age. They raised you and taught you everything you know, but now they are beginning to rely on you. Sadly, this is a normal part of life for many Missouri residents, but it is possible to protect your loved ones' interests while preserving their dignity.

Numerous factors can result in your parents being unable to make financial decisions on their own, which could both affect their quality of life and impact their estate's value, especially if scammers target them.

Buying a HUD home

You have likely heard advertisements regarding HUD homes for sale in St. Louis, yet if you are like most of the clients that we here at TDD Attorneys at Law work with, you know little about them or why they are designated as such. In some cases, buying a HUD home may help get you into your dream house at a starter home price. 

What exactly are HUD homes? These are homes that have been foreclosed where the mortgages held by the previous owners were insured by the Federal Housing Administration. The lenders of those mortgages can recoup their losses by filing a claim with the FHA. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (which operates the FHA) then takes control of the home. The HUD will then try to sell the home, first as an owner-occupied property, and then (if no buyers are found in the first listing round) an investment property. 

Factors to consider when updating a will

It is a subject that could cause the family dinner to take a turn, and could even make some Missouri residents feel uncomfortable. It is also a necessary part of life that, if completed properly, could save family members headaches down the road.

Many from the Show-Me State might assume that a one-time glance at a will is all they need to complete estate planning. However, there are a number of downsides to an unfinished or outdated will, as explained in the pointers below.

Are no-contest clauses enforceable in Missouri?

As you prepare your will in St. Louis, you no doubt have concerns about how your wishes will be received by your beneficiaries. The last thing that you want to do is cause contention amongst them (given, of course, that they not only share a relationship with you, but also likely with each other). However, you also want your desires regarding your estate to be respected. Some might suggest eliminating the potential for disputes by putting a no-contest clause in your will. Yet many states view such clauses as being unenforceable. Is Missouri among them? 

The state's stance on no-contest clauses in a will is described in Section 474.395 of Missouri's Revised Statutes. Here, it defines a no-contest clause as being language the rescinds a donative transfer or fiduciary appointment to any of your beneficiaries that challenge the validity of all or part of your will. Such a clause can also terminate a beneficiary's interest in your estate due to certain actions (which you must clarify). Enforceability of such a clause is left to the courts to determine on a case-by-case basis. The language of the statute implies that no-contest clauses shall be honored provided that they do not conflict with any applicable laws or public policies. 

What do I need to know about buying an HOA home?

There are many HOA horror stories in Missouri and elsewhere, and you have likely heard at least a few. They typically cover fights over landscaping, paint color, fencing, lighting and a myriad other issues. If you are home-shopping in an HOA community, you should know about the by-laws and codes that govern such things so you can decide whether you want to live within those confines. But what you really need to look at is the HOA’s financial picture.

Zillow explains that prospective buyers should understand that HOA financial, legal and other documents are something that the home seller provides, and then, only after you are in escrow. It is worth your time to do some online research on the HOA and if you cannot find what you want, have your Realtor request the documents.

Keeping your home in the family

When it’s time to downsize the empty nest, it’s common to want to keep it in the family. There’s no better way to preserve the great memories than to make new ones with the next generation.

While a home sale to a family member might seem simple and a good way to avoid the hassles of selling a house on the market, it has its own challenges. It is always a good idea to make sure that a real estate attorney is present to make sure that everything is done properly to avoid problems later on.

When do you get your earnest money back?

While buying a new home in St. Louis is always an exciting proposition, it is also an expensive one. There is the matter of coming up with the down payment on the home, and then also having to put up earnest money to put the home you want under contract (your earnest money is typically applied towards your deposit when the deal closes). According to Realtor.com, in some cases, a seller can require that you offer as much as 10 percent of the purchase price in earnest money. That money is your financial commitment to doing what's needed to buy the home and offers reassurance to justify the buyer taking it off the market. So when do you get it back? 

Ideally, you will get the earnest money back when you close. Yet even in situations where the sale falls through, you may be entitled to recoup your earnest money. The most straightforward is when the seller decides to back out of the transaction. In this case, he or she must return the money to you. In others, however, you typically need to have contingencies in the contract that void the sale and entitle you to your earnest money. Such contingencies typically include: 

  • When the house appraises lower than what it is listed for
  • When you discover a major flaw during the inspection
  • When a builder does not deliver a fully completed home
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