Issue No.241, September 1, 2021

Look For NEW Events Posted Since The Last Issue!
New insurance covers structural issues missed by a home inspector
Buyers must purchase homeowner’s insurance to protect their home and their property; title insurance to protect their lender’s stake in the ownership of their property; and are typically advised to purchase their own title insurance policy to cover their investment, too. In addition, buyers who make a down payment of less than 20 percent typically pay mortgage insurance premiums.

Title Tip: Real Estate Industry Gets Little Attention During 2021 Legislative Session
Real estate topics took a back seat to big issues like the pandemic and power grid failures in 2021 with the Texas Legislature. Of the 3,800 bills enacted into law, real estate still got a little attention.

Heirs' Property Relending Program Represents Substantial Investment in Resolution of Heir Property Issues
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing $67 million to help resolve heir property issues. Heir property refers to "family-owned land that is jointly owned by descendants of a deceased person whose estate did not clear probate. The descendants, or heirs, have the right to use the property, but they do not have a clear or marketable title to the property since the estate issues remain unresolved."1

Maine to Regulate Option Contracts for Purchasing Real Property or Rent-to-Own Real Property
The Maine legislature recently passed a bill that focuses on adding certain protections and requirements around option contracts for the purchase of real property or rent-to-own real property.

Land Banks on the Rise
More communities are turning to land banks to help address vacant, abandoned, and tax-delinquent properties. Since 2010, over 200 land banks have launched nationwide, said Brian Larkin, director of the National Land Bank Network at the Center for Community Progress. Land banks acquire and maintain distressed properties with the goal of transferring them back to responsible ownership and productive use, thereby aiding the revitalization of communities.

Can Laches Ever Defeat a Mortgage?
Perhaps unexpectedly, a recent case says “yes” and this is a scary (but salutary) ruling for any mortgage holder—although it is appropriate to add that the reckoning could have been avoided if the mortgage holder was more careful in paying attention to its situation. [Bank of New York v. Terrapin Industries, LLC, 189 A.D.3d 620, 139 N.Y.S.3d 149 (1st Dept. 2020).]

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Deed Language Defines the Scope of a Reserved Easement
Under California law, a grant deed is generally understood to transfer the entire fee title interest in real property, unless it expressly states otherwise. (See, e.g., Civil Code sections 1105 and 1113.) If the seller wants to reserve any rights in the transferred property (such as an easement), the reservation should be expressed in the grant deed.

Looking Beyond the Supreme Court's Eminent Domain Decision in PennEast
On June 29, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in PennEast Pipeline Co., LLC v. New Jersey. PennEast presented the question of whether a private company could condemn a pipeline right-of-way across state-owned property under the authority of a specific federal statute. The court ultimately upheld the company's right to condemn, but did so in a divided 5-4 opinion that is also characteristic of recent state court eminent domain decisions.

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California Appellate Court Affirms Order Granting Anti-SLAPP Motion in Quiet Title Action
The Court of Appeal of California, Third Appellate District, recently affirmed a trial court’s decision striking claims for quiet title and declaratory relief under California's anti-SLAPP statute, finding that recording a judgment constitutes a protected activity which is privileged under Civil Code § 47(b)(2). See Reynolds v. Palmbaum, 2021 WL 3184943 (Cal. Ct. App. July 28, 2021). The plaintiffs, a husband and wife, purchased a home with each owning a one-half interest as their separate property pursuant to a prenuptial agreement.

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In Argentina, giant rodents vie with the rich for top real estate
Families of a giant rodent native to South America have been invading a luxury gated community in Argentina, highlighting the country's controversial environmental and social policies.

UWM sees business growth, says it plans to start accepting Bitcoin for mortgage payments
United Wholesale Mortgage CEO Mat Ishbia said Monday that the Pontiac-based company plans to start accepting cryptocurrency for payments before year's end, making it the first major nationwide mortgage lender to do so.

Utah Real Estate Developer Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud and Tax Fraud involving Daufuskie Island Resort
Acting United States Attorney Rhett DeHart announced today that James Thomas Bramlette, 42, of Salt Lake City, Utah, pled guilty to Wire Fraud and Tax Fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343 and 26 U.S. § 7202, before United States District Judge Richard M. Gergel. Bramlette will be sentenced at a later date.

Employees At Gainesville Real Estate Firm Raided By SWAT Team Could Face Felony Charges
Employees of a prominent Gainesville commercial real estate firm whose offices were stormed by an armed SWAT team this summer could face felony charges after a criminal investigation said they bilked their former employer out of a cache of confidential documents and deals worth millions.

3600 E County Road 55, Midland, TX 79705
Designer: How do you feel about some zebra pattern as an accent? Homeowner: Sure, I guess. Designer: BRING ME THE HERD

Tree Law is a Gnarly, Twisted Branch of the Legal System
IT BEGINS ALMOST LIKE THAT familiar tree-falls-in-the-woods saying, if that saying grew up to become a lawyer: if a tree falls on a car, and its trunk crosses two boundary lines, who is liable for the damages?

‘Dangerous’ seawalls? Naples sues property owners, turns out, City owns them
Over the last three years, hundreds of thousands of tax dollars were spent by the City of Naples to sue property owners along seawalls they said were in disrepair. As it turns out, the City owned the seawalls all along and they ultimately settled.

1923: Tramp, the Beloved Police Cat of the Richmond Hill Police Station
In March 1916, the Richmond Hill Police precinct, which covered all of Richmond Hill, Woodhaven, Morris Park, and part of Forest Hills, was designated a mounted precinct. That is, every mounted police officer throughout Queens was transferred to the 283rd Precinct in Richmond Hill.