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Friday, June 20, 2014

First time buyers - Assessment obligations

First time buyers and assessment obligations
Question - The seller has specified in his counter offer that he wants me to assume the assessment for the sewer hookup (or road repairs). Do I have to do that?

Answer – No, you don’t HAVE to do that. You may wish to, if that’s the only way that you can get the house of your dreams. Many local governments allow homeowners to spread special assessments for things such as water and sewer hook-ups over many years. Some specify that the assessment must be paid off if the property is sold and some allow for a new owner to assume the unpaid obligation. When the original obligation was incurred, the owner at the time committed to pay to it off, so you would be well within your rights to refuse the seller’s request that you assume the obligation.

Remember, however, that the seller is going to take the payoff of that obligation into consideration when evaluating your offer and it may well tip the balance against accepting your offer; especially if you have asked for concessions as from the seller to begin with. The seller will be looking at his “net” after all costs and paying off this debt.

Another factor to consider is the impact that accepting the assessment obligation may have on your ability to get a mortgage on the place. This will be another debt on your debt to earnings ratio and could tip things against you. Discuss this with your lender before making a decision.

In situations where a special assessment for things like road replacement is in place, you should view this as a red flag about the Homeowners Association. They obviously were not managing things well and had not collected enough to maintain the neighborhood roads. Look to see if this is likely to reoccur while you are there or if the HOA is now doing a better job of planning and collecting for future neighborhood needs.

You may also want to do some research into the plans of the local governmental bodies in the area that you like, to see if they have plans for big projects like sewers and water that will eventually result in big assessments against your property. Usually there is a master plan in zoned communities, but a quick talk with the planning and building officials will give you a glimpse of the probable future for that area.  

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Art Show at the Mary Jackson House

A letter recently found between two friends became the inspiration for an Art Show that will take place on Sunday, June 22nd.  Mary Jackson, a Charter Member of the Historical Society and Suzanne Haskew, founding Member of the Village Fine Arts spoke of their love of the arts and the importance of having an art cultural center in Milford. 

Milford Historical Society in partnership with the Village Fine Arts will host an art show called Hot Days - Cool Art which will showcase the talent of young local arts from our community.  Mary and Suzanne truly knew the value of the arts and believed in encouraging and supporting the future generations of artists in our community.

Enjoy an entertaining Sunday afternoon at the Mary Jackson house (located at 648 Canal).  Hot Days Cool Art will be on Sunday, June 22, 2014 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $20.00 for Adults, $15.00 for Students, Kids 10 year old and younger are free.  Proceeds from the event will go to the Village Fine Art and the Milford Historical Society.    Music and Refreshments will be offered.   

Tickets are available at the SHAC, the Milford Historical Society Museum, Acorn Farms and Main Street Art. 

Spend an enjoyable afternoon supporting the arts and help us continue the vision of Mary Jackson and Suzanne Haskew.   

For those who don't know who Mary Jackson was, here is a link to her story and the story of the Milford home that she owned and left to the Milford Historical Society. Many readers of this blog may be too young to remember the TV show Walton's Mountain, in which Mary Jackson played one of the Baldwin sisters or may not have seen her in her many film appearances. You can come see her Milford home, to which she returned each year to spend time with childhood friends and enjoy original art, too.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Get into the 4th of July Parade in Milford...

The Milford Historical Society invites you to participate in the 2014 Independence Day Parade. Our Parade will be held at 11:00 A.M. on Friday, July 4rd.   As you know this Parade is an opportunity for business and individuals to “Toot Their Horn” and show community spirit at the same time.  The Parade will begin in downtown Milford and end at Huron Street. Participants can begin staging in designated areas by 10:00 A.M.  Below is a link to the Application for the parade.  Please complete and send  or fax back.

The theme for the Parade will be:
                                               Our  Milford,
    “A Small Village with a Big Heart”   

            We ask that your float, music or demonstration somehow relate to the theme through the use of colors, etc.
            To participate in this year’s Parade, please fill out the attached form and return to the address below, with a stamped, self-addressed envelope so we may mail back to you your assigned parade spot.
            We will be mailing back to you, in the envelope you have provided, confirmation of your placement in the Parade.
            If you have any questions, or require additional information, please feel free to contact me.
            In order to offset the rising cost of running the parade we are asking business participants to consider also including a donation to the Milford Historical Society with your application. Your donations of $10 – $50 will help keep the Independence Day parade going. Thanks

Katherine and Russ Rheaume, Parade Coordinators
PO Box 685
Milford, MI 48381-0685
248-684-7373      248-684-0070  Fax   Email

The Milford Historical Society Independence Parade is an entertainment event.
It is geared for both businesses and families to show off our town and support this
great country where we live.

*    All vehicles towing floats should be driven with a clear path of vision.  People
walking along side should help with keeping children from stepping in front of the vehicle and getting injured..

      *    The Parade line up will be mailed or e-mailed about a week before the event..
We ask that each participant respond by phone, E-mail, etc. that they have received their Parade Spot Number at that time.

      *     Entry themes or props must not be based on controversial, political or social       
issues  Naturally, no alcoholic beverages or banned drugs are allowed.
      *     Parade participants are permitted to distribute material while going down the
parade route.  Absolutely nothing including candies, toys can be THROWN
at the parade viewers.  Michigan State Law prohibits throwing items in a parade.
Please hand these items to the parade participants. We don’t want anyone hurt while running into the traffic to pick up items off the ground.
*    Please do not leave any large gaps between your float and the one in front.
The Parade is usually video taped and video copies are shown to the community and nursing homes throughout the year.  Large gaps destroy the continuity of the
parade.  We suggest no more than 20 feet exist between each exhibit.

       *   An announcer will be reading your provided script promoting your exhibit as you    
pass by.

       *   Milford Historical Society volunteers wearing MHS T-Shirts will be situated all     
            along the route to assist and answer any questions that arise.

 *   We encourage animals in the Parade, but insist that they not be dangerous and are
properly trained to be among people while leashed, ridden, hooked up, etc.

      *     The Milford Historical Society reserves the right to restrict, limit, accept or reject
       any exhibit application.

       *    Our goal is to have everyone go home after the event with fond memories of
 a Parade well done in a safe, fun  and interesting manner

Click here to get the parade application. Print it out and return it (see address above) or Fax it in (248-684-0070) to reserve your spot in the 2014 Independence Day Parade on July 4th.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

When things go awry in life, love and real estate…

Back in March of 2014, I cautioned about buying a house with a boyfriend or girlfriend and about various things to be aware of if you decide to do it anyway.

Recently I got a call from someone who read my post; but, unfortunately, too late. The caller had purchased a house together with his girlfriend at the time, only to have the relationship sour and break up. He went on to find his soul mate and get married, all the while living in the house that he had purchased with his ex-girlfriend (whom it must be noted had stopped paying when she moved out). Now the ex-girlfriend wants him to sell the place or buy her out of the mortgage obligation that she still is recorded upon. Unfortunately, he is not in a financial or credit-history position to do that, so he called me to see if I had any advice.

First, let me state (as I have many times before) that I’m not a lawyer and can’t give any legal advice on matters like this. I did do some quick research and basically found that there are few options available in situations like this. One of the best opinions on this topic that I found was this one from Peter Boyle, a Minneapolis Mortgage Broker in response to a blog post –

Peter Boyle, Mortgage Broker or Lender, Minneapolis, MN
To remove your girlfriend from title and the mortgage you really have 3 options:

1. You could attempt to Assume the mortgage in your own name if it is an FHA loan as all FHA loans are assumable with qualifying. You would need to call your current lender to request and complete an assumption package, which is basically a full mortgage application. Bear in mind that you would need to qualify on your own income for the full mortgage payment for this to be successful.

2. You could refinance by yourself, again qualifying under your own steam, or have another family member replace your girlfriend as a Non-Occupying co-mortgagor.

3. You could sell the home

If none of these are feasible you could:

4. You could leave her on the mortgage, have her Quit Claim her interest to you and create a paper trail, documented with 12 months’ worth of canceled checks, that you are making the payments without her help. In that case she would be eligible to buyer another property and we would not need to consider your mortgage payment against her in the debt ratios. (
Ed. Note: Peter is a Mortgage Broker, so this is his advice if the ex- wants to get a new mortgage for another place)

Peter Boyle
(612) 701-6816

So, the bottom-line answer is that there is no easy way to do that. Many people get into these situations because they have had some credit issues in the past and can’t afford to buy a house by themselves or based only upon their credit. The issue that often remains when things go awry is that you still can’t afford to buy-out the place on your own. Both of your are kind of screwed in that case, because the ex-whatever has this lingering obligation on their credit record that usually would prevent them from obtaining a new mortgage on a place that they might want to buy; and, of course you still have this vestige of your past officially sharing responsibility for the mortgage on your home (even if they haven’t paid a penny in years).

You could lawyer-up and try to do something about it, but the result will probably just be that the
lawyers make some money and you are still hosed. You need to find a way to refinance or you need to get out from under that old debt too by selling. You can’t have your cake and eat it too in this case. Hopefully the soul-mate that you have since found and married will understand and stay with you on this; otherwise you may have double-trouble. In Michigan at least, the wife in this case would need to sign-off on any sale because she has dower rights to whatever interest her spouse has in the property.

There’s just no way to put enough lipstick on this pig to make it look attractive. The best advice is just DON”T DO IT! Don’t buy a house with a boyfriend or girlfriend, even if you are engaged to be married, soon. The obligations that you take on when you do that may far outlive the engagement and the relationship. If you absolutely must go ahead, then have a clear and binding pre-nuptial agreement in place that spells out what must happen, and when, if the relationship shatters. If neither party could really afford to buy out the other's interest if things don't work out then DON'T DO IT!