1 Step Forward, 2 Steps Back…

Florida law allows a residential property owner the ability to pull a permit and serve as an Owner-Contractor so long as the residence is for occupancy of such owner and NOT offered for sale or lease (Note: the owner is also required to sign a disclosure statement confirming the same at the time the permit is obtained). On the surface, this is excellent news for an owner that has the skill set to make improvements, wants to save a few extra dollars, and/or wants to maintain social distancing. However, when you dig a bit deeper, an owner may have just restricted their ability to sell their home for one (1) year after the completion of the improvements. What?!

As noted above, an owner can serve as an Owner-Contractor, but cannot immediately offer the residence for sale or lease. Proof of sale or lease by Owner-Contractor within one (1) year after the completion of the improvements is evidence that the construction was undertaken for purposes of sale or lease. So what does that mean? If an owner pulls a permit, serves as the Owner-Contractor, completes the work, then wants to sell the residence immediately, the Owner will violate the statute and local ordinances governing this issue. (For practical purposes you can refer to Florida Statute 489.103(7) and Sarasota County Code of Ordinances, Article V, Section 22-122(3-6)). Violations could include the issuing of a citation, fines, civil penalties, and liens. With that being said, the local Building Department may consider extenuating circumstances and the parcel/owner permitting history when evaluating whether to enforce this requirement; however this is done on a case-by-case basis. How does this impact you, the Realtor?

If you represent a Seller you may want to ask the following questions of your client before you take on a listing that could impact your marketing dollars and closing timeline:

1. Have you pulled any permits on the property in your own name as Owner-Contractor?
2. If so, when was the permit pulled and when was the work completed? (Copies can usually be found online or obtained at the local building department).

If you represent a Buyer, you may want to ask the following questions of the Listing Agent before your client enters into a contract that could affect their closing timeline or a successful closing altogether:

1. Is the Seller aware of any open permits on the property?
2. Has the Seller pulled any Owner-Contractor permits? If so, when was the permit pulled and when was the work performed completed? (Note: it is a good idea to order a municipal lien search that reflects recent permit history.)

By asking the questions above, you may avoid a messy listing, wasting marketing dollars, provide some (non-legal) guidance to your client in hopes retaining future business, and protect your client from the aggravation of a delayed closing. As always, should you have any questions concerning Owner-Contractor permits we encourage you to reach out to your trusted local real estate attorney.

Sincerely,

Jamie A. Ebling, Esq., jebling@berlinpatten.com
Berlin Patten Ebling, PLLC

This communication is not intended to establish an attorney client relationship, and to the extent anything contained herein could be construed as legal advice or guidance, you are strongly encouraged to consult with your own attorney before relying upon any information contained herein.

All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

www.berlinpatten.com

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P (941) 954-9991 F (941) 954-9992

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P (941) 907-9022 F (941) 907-9024

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Real Estate Firm

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BUYER IS IN CONTROL OF FOREIGN’S SELLER’S FIRPTA WITHHOLDING UNDER THE REVISED 8/13 FLORIDA REALTORS/FLORIDA BAR (“FR/BAR”) CONTRACT FORMS.

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Increase in Real Estate Transactions Involving Foreign Buyers & Sellers

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The AS-IS Contract And Disclosure

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Should I Order A New Survey Or Rely On A Prior Survey?

Our clients often ask this question when they are purchasing residential property. You can only rely on the prior survey if the Seller has an existing survey accurately depicting the property and the Seller can sign an affidavit at closing that there have been no changes to the property since the date of the survey.…

Substituting Contract Pages

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Preventing Post Closing Issues

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Dealing With Entities As Buyers In Investment Properties

As most of you are aware, more and more investors are coming to this area to invest in distressed properties. The result is an increasing number of short sale contracts in which the buyers are entities (such as LLCs) rather than individuals. Typically, short sale lenders require the seller to provide a slew of documentation,…

Navigating a Short Sale – Tips & Reminders

With the extension of deficiency waiver tax relief, we have seen no slowdown with respect to short sales, and do not anticipate a slowdown in the foreseeable future.  With that in mind, we wanted to remind anyone who routinely handles short sales to consider the following: Do not forget about how critical it is to…

How to Effectively Use an Attorney From a Realtor’s Perspective

We have found with our experience that most real estate professionals are not aware of how they can most effectively utilize an attorney throughout a real estate transaction to not only protect themselves, but to better serve their clients. Many real estate professionals (and/or even their clients) are under the assumption that they will receive…

Another Reason to Complete Your Residential Real Estate Transaction in 2012

Beginning January 1, 2013, a new 3.8% tax on some investment income will take effect.  The tax was passed by Congress to help fund the health care and Medicare overhaul. Recently, we have been receiving multiple inquiries regarding the new 3.8% capital gain tax and what impact it will have on residential real estate transactions. …

CRSP-12 and CRSP-12 Addendums Debut

Originally Published: 8/10/2012 Effective August 20, 2012, the FAR-9 Contract will be replaced with the Contract for Residential Sale and Purchase (CRSP-12). In addition, the Comprehensive Addendum (FARA-10) will be replaced with the CRSP-12 addenda. Please see the attached link to the summary list of the changes between the FAR-9 Contract and the CRSP-12 Contract.…

IMPORTANCE OF OBTAINING NEW SURVEYS AND HAVING THEM REVIEWED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FLORIDA REALTORS/FLORIDA BAR CONTRACT

Originally Published: 6/8/2012 The following are excerpts of a more comprehensive article previously published by Julie A. Horstkamp, Esquire, Berlin Patten, PLLC, Member of Sarasota Association of Realtors/Sarasota County Bar Association Joint Committee, and Chair of the Florida Realtors/Florida Bar Joint Committee. We receive a number of questions regarding the survey provision under the Florida…

Bank of America Short Sale Seminar Summary

The Berlin Patten short sale negotiating team recently attended a Bank of America Short Sale Seminar.  The following is a brief summary of what Bank of America advised its seminar’s attendees:  Short sales are about two primary things to Bank of America:  Hardship and net proceeds Investors are reluctant to postpone foreclosures as the buyer…

Response to Anonymous Blog Entry: Title Agents should still not be conducting short sale negotiations

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Short Sale “Pre-Approvals”

We are frequently asked about listings being marketed as “pre-approved” in the MLS. We suspect this designation is intended to imply or suggest that there can be a quick closing.  We feel that the use of the term “pre-approved” can be misleading and lead to unrealistic or false expectations. Other than a pre-approval under HAFA,…

Short Sale Negotiations

We have been asked by several real estate agents to investigate whether or not a title company or title agent can conduct short sale negotiations. One of Berlin Patten’s contacts at the Florida Department of Financial Services, Bureau of Investigation, Title Services, responded to our inquiry as follows: “The license for a title insurance agent does not…

Fraud Investigation – A Top Priority for Freddie Mac

In previous blogs, we have discussed our concerns about short sale fraud and the warning signals to watch for.  According to Freddie Mac’s Mortgage Fraud Officer, Short sale fraud has also become the top priority for Freddie Mac’s fraud investigation unit as well. Per the attached article, recent trends that Freddie has been alerting Real…

Assignable Contracts & Specific Buyers

Please be advised that short sale lenders are getting very strict about approving the specific buyer identified on the contract. As such, lenders are carefully scrutinizing assignment provisions in contracts. Short sale lenders who are reviewing contracts (that permit the contract to be assigned) are kicking back the contracts more and more frequently.) Lenders are…

Berlin Patten’s Short Sale and Bankruptcy Services

Real Estate professionals are frequently confronted with listing a short sale property encumbered by two or more mortgages and a seller who is strongly considering bankruptcy as its “exit strategy.” We have struggled with that same scenario… working on a short sale for months, and then the seller decides to file for bankruptcy. At that…

The Importance of a Municipal Lien Search

Performing a municipal lien search is crucial when purchasing property in this day and age. In many cases there are unknown or undisclosed fees, costs or other issues that will impact a buyer post-closing. In addition a municipal lien search generally will assist a seller in complying with contractual terms to avoid a default. Examples…

Short Sales – Working with Second Lenders

Anyone who works with short sales knows that it can be very difficult to get short sales approved when there is a second (or even third lender). To successfully complete a short sale, ALL lenders (among others) must agree. The problem is that in many instances, they do not. In fact, we have seen situations…

A New Buyer Can Be Substituted for One Who Walked

We have learned of a very interesting development with respect to Bank of America. Bank of America has advised that it will permit a new buyer to step into the shoes of a buyer who has walked away from a transaction.  Furthermore, Bank of America has advised that the process will not have to begin…

Deficiencies and Deficiency Judgements

We spend a great deal of time counseling prospective short sale sellers regarding the advantages of attempting to pursue a short sale rather than allowing their property to go through the foreclosure process. Many people do not realize that the foreclosure process is a two step process. The first step is the sale of the…

Bank of America Realtor/Broker Listing Agent Certification – Questions and Answers

The new Bank of America Realtor/Broker Listing Agent Certification (the “Certification”) has fostered some significant concern among real estate agents. The most common questions and our comments/responses are as follows: 1. Question: Does paragraph 1 of the Certification mean that Bank of America will not pay a commission. Answer: No! Bank of America never paid…

Wells Fargo Short Sale Addendum

As expected, Wells Fargo has followed suit with Bank of America and has put out a new Short Sale Affidavit (attached hereto). Similar to the agreements recently published by Bank of America, Wells Fargo appears to be getting more aggressive in trying to curb flips and low offers and is now requiring realtors and closing…

Bank of America Document Warning

Please be advised that Bank of America is now requiring the parties to a short sale transaction to execute certain form documents before they will consider your short sale for approval. The buyer and seller will be required to execute a new addendum, and somewhat interestingly, the agents involved in the transaction will also need…

Nonlawyer Assisting the Short Sale Seller: Ministerial Acts or UPL?

As you know, short sale negotiations (and negotiators) are coming under great scrutiny by local and federal authorities. There are significant new disclosures for non-attorneys, and now the Florida Bar is weighing in on the subject. In essence, various proposals under consideration by the Florida Bar suggest that a great deal of the short sale…

FTC Issues New Rules for MARS

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued new rules that might impact real estate practitioners who represent clients involved in short sale transactions. The Mortgage Assistance Relief Services (“MARS”) regulations define anyone providing services which assist or attempt to assist the consumer in negotiating a short sale as a “MARS” provider. Depending on certain factors,…
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