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I Didn’t Know That…

Do You Know What You Just Signed?

Do You Know What You Just Signed?

I don’t know about you, but I get excited and even a bit nervous when I’m about to make a large purchase. My heart begins to beat faster and my hands get sweaty. Your hands get sweaty too, don’t they?

When I purchased my first home, I was so excited that I didn’t bother to read the writing on the contract. I faintly remember hearing my Realtor explain the terms of the contract, but in truth, I had no idea what I was signing.

The Importance Of A Good Realtor

As excited as you may be about your home purchase, a good Realtor will take things slow and be sure to explain every paragraph in the contract.  While this may seem tedious and boring (which it can be), it is definitely in your best interest to listen and make sure you fully understand your rights and obligations.  When I’m writing an offer for a client, it can take a few hours to get through the paperwork.  My goal is to explain everything and make sure that my client understands what he/she is signing.

Why Are Contracts So Verbose?

Lawyers… I think sometimes they get paid by the word when it comes to contract language. In all seriousness, the language is complicated as a result of previous lawsuits.  When I purchased my first home back in 1988, the contract was two pages long.  Now, a standard contract can easily exceed 10+ pages!

The attorneys who draft up the contracts try and make the terms so clear and concise, that sometimes it actually makes things more confusing for the average person to understand.  All of which leads me into the purpose of today’s post:

Each week Annie Fitzsimmons, the hotline attorney for the Washington Association of Realtors (WAR), answers a legal question pertaining to real estate.  These are questions that have been asked regarding the various parts of the real estate contracts.

Here is this week’s question:

Buyer A made an offer with $500 earnest money deposit, subject to financing. The offer was accepted. Seller notified Buyer A with form 22 AR of the seller’s right to terminate the transaction if the buyer did not waive the financing contingency. Buyer A waived the financing contingency, however does not have the ability to close the transaction if the loan does not close. Seller referenced the purchase and sale verbiage, ”Buyer has sufficient funds to close this sale in accordance with this Agreement and is not relying on contingent source of funds, including funds from loans”, etc. Seller contends that since the buyer does not have available funds to close, Seller may terminate the agreement. Buyer A contends that the contingency is removed, and that while she is in jeopardy of losing her earnest money if the contract does not close, the seller cannot terminate the contract. Who is correct?

Buyer is correct. Based on the information presented, Seller has no basis for terminating the agreement at this point and any attempt to do so would constitute a breach by Seller. Buyer is entitled to use the time allowed until closing to obtain the funds necessary to close the transaction. If Buyer is unable to do so, then at closing, Buyer will breach the agreement. If Seller’s remedies are limited to forfeiture of EM, then Buyer will lose the EM but not face any more significant risk. Seller did all that Seller could do by giving the notice of right to terminate. It is now up to the Buyer to obtain the funds necessary to close the transaction.

Clear as mud, right? That’s why it makes sense to have a trained professional on your side. Do you have a question about real estate? Give me a call!

When REALiTY BiTES, Bite Back!

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Get The Poop On Septic When Selling Your Woodinville Home

Septic_Tank_Riser_LidIf you’ve been a reader of my Blog for any length of time, you may have noticed that I tend to focus on certain topics and run them into the ground.  I like to think it’s because I’m being thorough and want to cover the topic fully, but those who know me might argue that I’m just odd.  Today’s post should be my last on the subject of septic systems unless someone asks me additional questions or some new changes in the law require an update.

King County Septic Regulations

Title 13 of the code within The Board Of Health Regulations is the governing document for all things septic within King County.  Within this chapter, 13.60.030 of the health code specifies what a seller must do when selling a home that is served by an OSS (On-Site Septic System).  Click HERE to view the regulations.  If your home is connected to a public sewer system, you can stop reading now.  BUT if you have a septic system serving your property, read on… Read the rest of this entry »

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What lurks in Those Seattle Victorian Homes?

Older home with lead based paint

Older home with lead-based paint

As a child, I was initially raised in a very old apartment building in San Francisco, CA.  I spent countless hours looking outside the bedroom window and down at the street, much like the child in the photo above. My mom even tells stories of me as a baby, chewing on the wood of the sills and other painted objects. “We were so poor that we couldn’t afford teething toys…”. Read the rest of this entry »

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Property Disclosures – What Sellers Need To Know


Seller Property Disclosure Form

In an earlier post, I discussed the topic of property disclosures, and what it means for buyers.  You can read that post HERE.  If you’re a seller, you may already be familiar with the disclosure form, and may even think that it’s totally unnecessary and a burden to complete.  After all, who reads these things anyway, right? Well, I’m proposing that you look at this document from a completely new perspective. Read the rest of this entry »


Property Disclosures – What Buyers Need To Know

Form 17

Since 1995, sellers in Washington State have been required by law to provide to potential purchasers a document titled “Seller Disclosure Statement”. This disclosure comes in a few different forms, depending on whether you are purchasing an “Improved” property (home, condo, etc.), “Unimproved” property (generally raw land), or “Commerical” property.  Whichever type of property you are purchasing, the purpose of the disclosure is the same. It is provided so that you, the buyer, have information about the property that you may not have known otherwise unless you were the seller. Read the rest of this entry »


Dear Seller…


“My family and I would very much like to purchase your home. I am a single gay man with 2 adopted, handicapped children…”

Have you ever written a letter like this to present to a seller of a home? I’ve done this on behalf of my clients before (not this exact letter, but something similar). And with good success, I might add. The New York Times recently ran a piece that spoke about this tactic (however, the content differs dramatically from what I’ve seen and written in the past).

Letters like those written in the article are perfectly acceptable in my opinion. What should be mentioned from a cautionary standpoint, are words that could be misconstrued as discriminatory in nature as defined by HUD (Housing and Urban Development). Title VIII of the Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination against a variety of classes. So, even with the best of intentions in mind, a letter like the sample above could be a lawsuit in the making. I am thinking of using the letter from the NYT article though…

What are your thoughts?

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License to Flip?

Last July, the Washington State Legislature enacted a new statute aimed directly at the Real Estate Industry.  While the laws are always changing, this new statute has a direct affect on Real Estate investors and occasional “Flippers”.  Read more about it here


3Ms continued

So what if you’re looking at a home, and you’re not sure whether it is a Mobile, Manufactured, or Modular home? What’s the next step if you’re interested in it, but need to know which one it is?

There are several things you can do to further investigate:

1. Take a walk around the entire home, looking for any tags that may be affixed on the exterior (usually near a corner of the home). If there is a VIN (Vehicle Identification Number), it probably is a mobile or Manufactured home (note: See my previous blog entry for links to definitions).
2. Look inside the home. You may find a VIN tag inside a utility closet or someplace near where the utilities are located.
3. Call the Department of Licensing in Olympia. They can look in their records and tell you if there is a registered mobile home under the current owner’s name.
4. Visit the county’s Department of Development and Environmental Services (DDES). In order to place a home on the property, the owner must have gotten a permit from the county. In the permit records, you may find information that specifies whether the home is a Mobile, Manufactured, or Modular. (note: don’t rely soley on the county records, as they can be wrong! I listed a home that was specified as a Mobile in the permit, but it was a Modular home).

If after all of the above steps you still don’t know, call the title company. They can send out a title inspector to the property who can make the determination. In fact, the title company is a critical factor in this process because if they state in the title report that it is a mobile home, your lender’s interest rates may be higher!

*It may seem redundant to state, but the above information applies mostly if you’re looking at a home on owned property, not in a “mobile home park”. By its very definition, a mobile home park will likely have mobile and manufactured homes located there.

**Another thing to be aware of, is that not all appraisers can spot the difference either! I’ve had a appraiser tell me that a home was a mobile (even though he couldn’t find a VIN), when it was a modular home.

Happy house hunting!

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Mobile vs. Manufactured vs. Modular

The 3 M’s of housing… Thanks to Hollywood, all three words used to conjure up the same visual in my mind. I thought of Jim Rockford of the The Rockford Files. This was my favorite show growing up. He used to live in a mobile home in a parking lot in Malibu, CA. I once won a radio show call-in contest for trivia about his Firebird. The question? What was Jim Rockford’s license plate number? The answer? 853 OKG. But alas, I digress… This is after all, a blog about real estate. Back to the 3 M’s.

Visually, the 3 homes may look alike. Structurally, they are built the same way (they are all built in factories and brought out to the lot in sections). But, that is where the similarities end.

Mobile and Manufactured homes are built to standards set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Modular homes are built to state and local building codes. When sold, Mobile and Manufactured homes are considered to be no different than a motor vehicle. On these structures, you’ll find a VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) just like a car. And like a car, these structures are considered to be “Personal” property. Modular homes on the other hand, are considered to be “Real” property just like stick built homes (built on the property).

Financing a Mobile or Manufactured home is more difficult than financing a Modular home. In fact, unless the seller has taken steps to convert the home from personal property to real property in a process called “title elimination“, it can be nearly impossible to find a bank who will lend on a mobile or manufactured home. Financing a Modular home is much easier and no different than if the home were built on the lot. The revised codes of Washington (RCW) section 65.20.040 outline the process for title elimination.

Bottom line –

There are serious financial and legal differences between Mobile / Manufactured / Modular homes. Be educated. Know what you are buying. And if you get the chance to watch The Rockford Files, look for his license plate…

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