We have noticed an increase in a practice, that if not done with full and proper disclosure, could lead to substantial trouble for the parties involved, including civil liability, license forfeiture, or worse yet, criminal sanctions.  The practice involves changing and/or substituting pages to a fully executed contract.

 

While we recognize the reality that in many cases, doing so is simply easier than having the parties re-execute or re-initial the full document, such a practice can be very dangerous.  And yes, there are individuals who are currently serving time in federal prison for doing so improperly.

 

While we strongly discourage the practice, if you must substitute pages to a fully executed and initialed contract, you should only do so only with the WRITTEN permission from ALL parties to the contract. If you do not get adequate written proof of such authorization, then (a) the contract could be rendered invalid and unenforceable, and (b) the party who performed the substitution runs the risk of being accused of forgery and/or fraud by an aggrieved party to the contract.

 

As always, if you have any questions about the proper way to effect changes to a fully executed contract, we strongly advise you to first consult with a real estate lawyer.

 

Sincerely,

Berlin-Patten, 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.

 

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The Eviction Moratorium Impact On Your Next Residential Contract

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  You have a Seller ready to list the residence for sale, you’ve confirmed that the Estate of the original owner who passed away has been opened, and a Personal Representative has been appointed by the Court. Your Buyer is an investor who works with a Limited Liability Company (LLC) who wants to buy the…

Prepare Your Buyer/Borrower for the Closing

  With the volume of closings that we have, we handle a lot of different personalities, situations, and behaviors when we go through our closing process. Being aware of these in advance, and perhaps trying to get ahead of the issues, can sometimes make the difference between a happy closing and a dramatic one. 1.…

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Relocation to Florida: Looking to your Future, Leaving your Past

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Be Thankful You Don’t Receive a Fowl Title Objection Notice

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Modern Uses For Life Insurance Trusts

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Property Sharing: Yours, Mine and Ours

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Can Brokers Put a Lien on Real Property for Payment of Commission?

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Inspection “CYA” in a Demanding Marketplace

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Time to Get Your Head Out of the Sand and Pursue that Short Sale

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The New Foreclosure Legislation is Now Law and Affects More Than Just Foreclosures

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House Bill 87 And The Impact Of Florida Mortgage Foreclosures

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Tips on Inspection Periods for Short Sale Transactions

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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?

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What About The Flat Screen TV?

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Preventing Post Closing Issues

Many clients, their agents, and unfortunately some closing/title agents believe that the end of a real estate transaction occurs when it closes and funds.  Too many times we have seen post-closing glitches, oversight, or lack of follow-up lead to problems with the future sale of a property.  Over the last few weeks we have run…

Counting Time Periods When Using The FR/BAR Contract Form

Under the FR/BAR Contract calendar days are used when calculating time periods versus the CRSP-12 Contract form, in which business days are used. Consequently, it is much easier to count time periods using the FR/BAR since you don’t have to worry about excluding national legal holidays when counting your time periods.  You don’t count the…

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. …

Addressing Financing Contingencies

Under the Financing Contingency paragraph of the FloridaRealtors/FloridaBar-1 Contract and As-Is Contract (hereinafter collectively referred to as “Contract”), when can the Buyer or Seller terminate the Contract and is the deposit returned to Buyer? Prior to Loan Commitment Date, Buyer notifies Seller in writing that Buyer can’t obtain financing after using diligence and good faith,…

Bankruptcy Follow-up: Short Sales Post Bankruptcy

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Removal of Second Mortgages in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Cases

Previously, the general rule in bankruptcy was that if a homeowner wanted to “strip off” or remove a second mortgage, he or she could only do so in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.  However, that has now changed. In McNeal v. GMAC Mortg., LLC (In re McNeal), 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 9589 (11th Cir. 2012), the…

Berlin Patten Raises Funds for the American Cancer Society

Originally Published: 9/14/2012 Berlin Patten would like to thank our donors, sponsors, and guests for supporting our charity bartending event for the American Cancer Society on September 10, 2012.  Together, we almost doubled our fundraising contributions from last year!  We would like to give special thanks to Shane Rawley, owner of Shaner’s Pizzeria.  He and…

Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA) Short Sale Update

Originally Published: 6/19/2012 Effective June 1, 2012, the following changes were implemented in the HAFA Program: TIME FRAME EXTENDED: The program has been extended to Dec. 31, 2013. The HAFA short sale can be initiated up to Dec. 31, 2013; however, the transaction must have a closing date on or before Sept. 30, 2014. ELIGIBILITY…

Cancellation of Foreclosure Sale by Filing Bankruptcy

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SHORT SALE CONTRACT DEPOSIT DEADLINES – EFFECTIVE DATE OR UPON SHORT SALE APPROVAL?

Originally Published: 5/4/2012 With 2012 being the year of the Short Sale, you need to be familiar with differences in the contract forms being used in the marketplace. Typically, in a short sale transaction, we are seeing the Florida Realtors/Florida Bar (“FR/BAR”) As Is Residential Contract form (“As-Is Contract”) being used along with either the…

Deficiency – What is it and How Much Time Does My Bank Have to Sue?

Originally Published: 3/27/2012 When an underwater home is sold in a short sale or a foreclosure, the greatest concern is almost always over the remaining mortgage balance owed by the homeowner (known as a “deficiency balance”) and how long the lender has to try to collect it.  When a property is sold in short sale,…

How Bankruptcy Can Backfire on Homeowners in Foreclosure

Originally Published: 3/12/2012 Many homeowners resort to filing bankruptcy in order to stop an imminent foreclosure on homestead property when no other legal options are available.  While, in most cases, the mortgage holder can still foreclose on the property, it cannot do so until the property is released from the bankruptcy estate.  This can take…

Backup Offers

Originally Published: 2/22/2012 Most short sale addenda have provisions for backup offers if you check the appropriate box. It is our opinion that, generally speaking, you should not check the box permitting backup offers when dealing with a short sale. It creates too many unnecessary legal and practical issues. Most importantly, many lenders and their…

Cautionary Tale Regarding Wells Fargo

The Sarasota Herald Tribune recently published an article that stated that Wells Fargo had a short sale incentive/fast track program in place. The article, which is consistent with other published articles we have seen, suggested that Wells Fargo would be willing to fast track short sale approvals and even make payments to short sale sellers…

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

On or about September 30, 2011, an anonymous reader provided a response to a blog Berlin Patten had sent to its readers regarding who can or should be engaged in the negotiation of short sales. While we debated whether or not to further comment on the subject (as the blog response did not really specifically…

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

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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…

HAFA Policy Changes for Servicers

Lenders’ inconsistent eligibility requirements seem to be the most consistent thing we have seen with respect to the Federal Government’s HAFA (Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives) Program.  The Federal Government seems to have taken notice. On August 9, 2011, the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program adopted certain policy guideline changes.  The changes, we presume, are in…

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,…

“No Cost” Short Sales

You may have seen solicitations from companies announcing “NO COST” Short Sales that can be closed quickly, sometimes as quickly as 45 days. We suggest that you use great caution when engaging these companies or recommending these companies to short sale sellers. First, there is no such thing as a free ride. In most cases,…

Bank of America is on Board

Bank of America will be participating in Obama’s Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternative program starting April 5th. The HAFA program is designed to qualify a home owner and a price for the home in advance of the contract.  The Bank of America representatives will be going through an extensive training this weekend before the launch on…
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