Bess Harris Reynolds

What Buyers and Sellers Need to Know About Underground Storage Tanks (USTs) in North Carolina

Chances are if a home was built before the mid-1960s to late 1970s in North Carolina, it used oil heat as fuel for the furnace and stored the oil in an underground storage tank (“UST”). Luckily, most oil heating systems have been replaced with newer systems fueled by electricity or natural gas. Although heating systems have changed, many homes still contain USTs buried underground that may still contain oil. Over time, USTs can corrode leading to oil leaks, contaminated soil and contaminated groundwater.

Lenders: What’s the big deal, it’s just a power of attorney?

North Carolina recently passed a new NC Uniform Power of Attorney Act, which replaces the old Power of Attorney Chapter 32A and becomes effective January 1, 2018. The Act changes a number of provisions including a new short form power of attorney and a new limited power of attorney for real property. Other provisions affected include agent certification, durability of the document, gifting powers, self-dealing powers, co-agents and how to handle power of attorneys executed out of state. As a result, NC lenders will begin to see new power of attorney forms in 2018.

The Secure, PaperLess Workflow: ALTA Compliance

Pursuant to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) rules implemented on October 3, 2015, real estate attorneys should obtain certification as being ALTA (American Land Title Association) Best Practices compliant and should maintain and enforce written policies and procedures to protect client privacy. Maintaining clean desk and document storage policies has resulted in real estate firms across the state embracing paperless environments. Managing and storing documents electronically helps to mitigate security risks and adhere to CFPB requirements.

Family Care Homes in NC: Is Your HOA Against Them?

Recently, a neighborhood HOA approached me with a question regarding family care homes in North Carolina. The HOA contained covenants and restrictions which limited the use of homes in the neighborhood to single family residences only.   The question was whether an owner in the neighborhood could establish a family care home based on the neighborhood restrictions. Despite the restrictions written in the HOA covenants, the answer is yes, the owner can establish a family care home. The jurisdiction of the Family Care Home bill supersedes any restrictions imposed by the HOA. 

Landlocked in NC: 4 Possible Easements Solutions

Finding out your property is landlocked with no private or public access to a road is not news that any landowner in North Carolina wants to hear. If you have friendly neighbors that are willing to grant you an easement for access to a road, your problem is solved. However, difficulties may arise and litigation may be triggered when neighbors are not getting along and are unwilling to provide access to the landlocked parcel. With the help of an attorney, there are several methods to enable legal access to his or her property by an easement. 

Beware: Fraudulent Wire Transfers Are on the Rise

The old days of writing checks for a real estate transaction are over and wires have replaced them. As a matter of standard practice, more and more law firms only accept closing funds issued via a bank wire directly to their trust account.  Moreover, many closing attorneys are sending mortgage pay-offs, agent commissions and seller proceeds via wire from their trust account.  Scammers and hackers alike have caught on to the fact that real estate transactions are an easy target for wire fraud.

Same-Sex Marriage and Owning Real Property in NC

Although same-sex marriage is legal in North Carolina and throughout the United States, there is still a lack of clarity surrounding North Carolina’s laws as they relate to same-sex couples. Real property laws are no exception. Now that same-sex marriage is legal, these couples have the option of holding property through tenancy by the entirety. Holding a property as tenants by the entirety is a form of legal title available exclusively to married couples.

What Agents Should Ask Clients Selling Property out of an Estate

Selling a Property out of an Estate: 7 Questions Every Agent Should Be Asking Their Client

Having an estate as a client can be a challenge for many real estate agents. Agents are frequently calling our office to ask who needs to sign the Contract and related documents on behalf of the estate. 

Ultimately, since estates can be complicated, the attorney must review the title work and estate file related to the property before verifying who needs to sign the Contract and seller documents at closing. 

Could You Owe Past Taxes for a House You Just Bought or Sold?

Attention Mecklenburg County Homeowners:  Senate Bill 159 May Impact You

On October 1, 2015, the North Carolina General Assembly approved Session Law 2015-266 – Senate Bill 159 to clarify how additional taxes levied on undervalued properties can be collected by a county. The original Bill passed in 2013 to address the erroneous valuation of properties from 2011. The passage of the Bill resulted in the reevaluation of thousands of properties in Mecklenburg County. For properties that were undervalued, owners received delinquent tax bills dating back to 2011. 

HOA Foreclosures: What the Homeowner Needs to Know

A few months ago, a real estate agent called me looking for advice under the following scenario: Their client bought an investment property with cash. When they purchased the property, the Homeowner’s Association (HOA) dues were prorated and paid through the end of the year on the settlement statement by the closing attorney. The client immediately started renting the property out. Over the next couple of years, the client did not pay the HOA dues claiming they never received the bills therefore did not realize there were any due.

West Charlotte "River District" in the Works

In March 2016, Crescent Communities and Lincoln Harris announced their plans to build a new development on Charlotte’s west side. This new development is tentatively being called the “River District” since it will be located between Charlotte’s international airport and the Catawba River. Although the development will take years to build, the new district will be among Charlotte’s largest communities, ranking up there with the South Park and Ballantyne areas.

FIRPTA and Foreign Clients: What Agents Need to Know

At Hutchens Law Firm, we have quite a few real estate agents that represent foreign investors in the acquisition and sale of real property in North Carolina. What many agents and foreign clients do not realize is that there may be tax implications when the client goes to sell the property.

The Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act of 1980 (FIRPTA) imposes an income tax on any foreign person selling real property in the United States.