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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all,

I hate to reach out like this to strangers, but we don't know anyone that can advise us.

Suffice to say, my mother-in-law is disabled and having a very hard time with her mortgage payments. My wife and I have been helping as much as possible, but it's time to try something else. We're seriously considering purchasing her home, but there may be some lurking issues that we're worried could put everyone in a worse situation. Essentially, we're worried that upon purchasing the house some unknowns could really bite us.

1) The house is in bad shape, her and her husband have not been maintaining it at all, it's practically falling down. We're very worried it wouldn't get a CO, and when we transfer everything to our names, they'd be evicted.

2) She has been through all sorts of refinancing and ridiculous modifications. While the current loan holder has sent her a payoff that we may be able to manage, we're worried there are hidden things that may only be revealed by a full title search. We, however, don't even know what to look for. We certainly don't want to own (or take a second mortgage on) a piece of land that we could never sell because there are hidden attachments due to all the poor decisions she has made during her fiscal troubles.

I'm sure there are tons of other concerns given the situation, and a full valuation of the home/land may make it better for us to find another residence and she can just walk away from the mortgage and let them collect when they auction it off. Which could be another option, but I worry someone with deeper pockets would scoop it up for the land alone. Which, given the size of the land, and the location, is probably worth (at least, the tax assessment values it at) more than the payoff. So, they'd knock it down and flip it for a profit.

Anyway, if anyone out there is in the area and could either help or recommend someone to help, we'd very much appreciate it. We don't want her to lose her home, it's been in my wife's family for a long time, it's pretty much the last thing they have.

Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Need help w/ a difficult real-estate situation in NJ

Hello all,

I hate to reach out like this to strangers, but my wife and I do not know anyone that can advise us.

Suffice to say, my mother-in-law is disabled and having a very hard time with her mortgage payments. My wife and I have been helping as much as possible, but it's time to try something else. We're seriously considering purchasing her home, but there may be some lurking issues that we're worried could put everyone in a worse situation. Essentially, we're worried that upon purchasing the house some unknowns could really bite us.

1) The house is in bad shape, her and her husband have not been maintaining it at all, it's practically falling down. We're very worried it wouldn't get a CO, and when we transfer everything to our names, they'd be evicted.

2) She has been through all sorts of refinancing and ridiculous loan modifications. While the current loan holder has sent her a payoff that we may be able to manage, we're worried there are hidden things that may only be revealed by a full title search. We, however, don't even know what to look for. We certainly don't want to own (or take a second mortgage on) a piece of land that we could never sell because there are hidden attachments due to all the poor decisions she has made during her fiscal troubles.

I'm sure there are tons of other concerns given the situation, and a full valuation of the home/land may make it better for us to find another residence and she can just walk away from the mortgage and let them collect when they auction it off. Which could be another option, but I worry someone with deeper pockets would scoop it up for the land alone. Which, given the size of the land, and the location, is probably worth (at least, the tax assessment values it at) more than the payoff. So, they'd knock it down and flip it for a profit.

Anyway, if anyone out there is in the area and could either help or recommend someone to help, we'd very much appreciate it. We don't want her to lose her home, it's been in my wife's family for a long time, it's pretty much the last thing they have.

Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
I suppose that's a given, if we'll need to acquire a CO. However, we were more curious regarding the logistics of transferring the title and buying out the mortgage. We're unsure if doing so would require a new CO. If so, you're right, we'd certainly want to hire an inspector to ensure it will get one so we know if we're going to have to improve the property to avoid them being evicted -- I'd assume there would be ramifications if they lived in a house without a CO? But, it's probably more that a bank wouldn't give us a mortgage on a house that wouldn't get a CO.

However, say we took a HELOC on our current home to pay off their mortgage, or just extracted money from our investment accounts. We would want want the home in our name so her husband, who we don't care for, can't take it from her. But, to perform said title transfer, is a CO required? Of course, we will need to also get a title search, but we need to know what to look for to make sure there are no surprises when/if we ever sell it when the time comes. We built our current house, so there wasn't much involved in the title. So, we don't know what to expect from a title agency.
 

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Re: Need help w/ a difficult real-estate situation in NJ

When it gets this complicated, the best thing to do is ask around to get a referral for a competent real estate lawyer. We've discovered there's just so much even a good real estate agent can deal with and there's a point where even at $400/hr (that's what we have to pay), a good local real estate lawyer can be the best way to get the advice needed before moving forward. We were recently in a complicated real estate situation involving a commercial investment. It took the lawyer 3 1/2 hours to dig us out. It cost us $1400.It saved our $250,000 investment.

Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Re: Need help w/ a difficult real-estate situation in NJ

When it gets this complicated, the best thing to do is ask around to get a referral for a competent real estate lawyer. We've discovered there's just so much even a good real estate agent can deal with and there's a point where even at $400/hr (that's what we have to pay), a good local real estate lawyer can be the best way to get the advice needed before moving forward. We were recently in a complicated real estate situation involving a commercial investment. It took the lawyer 3 1/2 hours to dig us out. It cost us $1400.It saved our $250,000 investment.

Good luck.
Therein lies part of the problem -- we don't know anyone around to recommend someone and have never had to deal with this stuff ourselves. Worse, I'm not knowledgeable enough in this arena to know what to ask. So, I feel as if going in blindly, I'd be wasting their time (at a pricey rate) because I'm ignorant and won't be able to get right down to the nuts and bolts of it.

I suppose I'm just trying to figure out what I need to know, how much I should worry about things, so I can have a moderately informed and competent discussion with a lawyer. This may also speed things along, because as it stands, she can't pay her mortgage, and we're paying it at an insane interest rate because of their past irresponsibility and negligence.

P.S. There were two other posts in this thread that are now gone.... If the previous poster deleted their message and my quoted response went with it, I hope they didn't do so because they felt it provided no value or that I was dismissing it. I was thankful for the post and it did help me think about a few more things I may need to deal with.
 

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Re: Need help w/ a difficult real-estate situation in NJ

You say you're too ignorant to move forward, but in such a situation ignorance is the very best reason to seek legal help. All you need do is make an appointment and pretty much tell them (as quickly as possible to save money with the clock ticking!) all that you've said here. They'll ask you a few questions to get a sense of what you want to know, and then, if they're any good, tell you what your options are, and what the up and down sides are for each option.

Were I in your shoes (not having a way to get a referral), in desperation I'd simply hunt for a real estate lawyer sight unseen in your area. The chances are decent anyone you'd pick would likely do better than we laypeople can in situations such as yours. (I'm not a lawyer, not married to a lawyer, and have no particular interest in defending the value of lawyers.)

If getting a good referral is the most important first step to make you feel more comfortable, then perhaps you could use a recommended lawyer who is not in your area, doing contact by phone and email. If so, our real estate lawyer is Dina Alexander (here in Oregon). Her phone is 971-634-0203. In our dealings with Dina, she was level headed and maintained her cool while we were dealing with unscrupulous property management of a commercial property. Together we forced the bad guys to admit that they had "made an error." In doing so, she saved us the loss of $17K a year and otherwise we would have also immediately lost $50K in capital gains taxes. Yes, your situation is different, but with no place else to turn involving complex real estate-related issues, if it gets over the head of a good agent (or even over the head of a good broker), then the court of last resort by default becomes a real estate lawyer. Think about it--where else can you turn?

Again, good luck to you.
 

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Re: Need help w/ a difficult real-estate situation in NJ

Look for a lawyer on the internet! Find something where you can see reviews. Google can help you with anything. Sometime ago I got a ticket in NY state, 1000 miles from where I'm... I googled a good lawyer with good reviews, and she did get me out of it. Without even seeing me once.

Personally I find it strange you want to buy a house in bad shape... What is the purpose of this purchase?
 

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Re: Need help w/ a difficult real-estate situation in NJ

T-design makes a good point, reminding me that in our contact with our local real estate lawyer, it made absolutely no difference that she was local. Indeed, to this day, we've never met her. It was ALL by phone and email. I should have said that before.
 

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Re: Need help w/ a difficult real-estate situation in NJ

Look for a lawyer on the internet! Find something where you can see reviews. Google can help you with anything. Sometime ago I got a ticket in NY state, 1000 miles from where I'm... I googled a good lawyer with good reviews, and she did get me out of it. Without even seeing me once.

Personally I find it strange you want to buy a house in bad shape... What is the purpose of this purchase?
The purpose is to keep my mother-in-law with a roof over her head so my wife and I can keep our sanity which we'll quickly lose if they end up moving in with us, lol. Plus, the lot is fairly large, and the amount they owe (provided there are no other hidden costs/liens/etc) is less than what the assessed land value is. However, we can't afford to both buy out her mortgage and completely repair the home, so if it won't get a CO and will need one, we can't open that can of worms. If we can just silently buy out the mortgage, transfer the title, and keep her there with no mortgage payment, that could work. One day, we can knock the thing down and build something else or flip it ourselves when her mother-in-law gets bad enough to need to be in assisted living. Hopefully doing so will help pay those costs, which likely won't be cheap.
T-design makes a good point, reminding me that in our contact with our local real estate lawyer, it made absolutely no difference that she was local. Indeed, to this day, we've never met her. It was ALL by phone and email. I should have said that before.
Still need to know what I should be asking. Maybe I'm just over-thinking this and in analysis paralysis. I guess I can just wing it and get on the phone and explain the situation and see what they have to say. I just wanted to be somewhat informed before going in blind. Maybe half the things I'm worried about are pointless and only a result of my fear because I'm admittedly ignorant regarding real estate.
 

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Re: Need help w/ a difficult real-estate situation in NJ

Quick questions OP - can you assess what needs to be done to the house?

How long do you think your Mother-in-Law will be able to live on her own?

G/L
 

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Re: Need help w/ a difficult real-estate situation in NJ

The purpose is to keep my mother-in-law with a roof over her head so my wife and I can keep our sanity which we'll quickly lose if they end up moving in with us, lol. Plus, the lot is fairly large, and the amount they owe (provided there are no other hidden costs/liens/etc) is less than what the assessed land value is. However, we can't afford to both buy out her mortgage and completely repair the home, so if it won't get a CO and will need one, we can't open that can of worms. If we can just silently buy out the mortgage, transfer the title, and keep her there with no mortgage payment, that could work. One day, we can knock the thing down and build something else or flip it ourselves when her mother-in-law gets bad enough to need to be in assisted living. Hopefully doing so will help pay those costs, which likely won't be cheap.
Ah, ok, that makes sense. Because otherwise it might be cheaper just rent her a house/apartment.
 

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Re: Need help w/ a difficult real-estate situation in NJ

Quick questions OP - can you assess what needs to be done to the house?

How long do you think your Mother-in-Law will be able to live on her own?

G/L
Unfortunately, I'd only be guessing what is needed. In my opinion, the real problem is with an addition that my wife's grandmother had built by some "friends" a very long time back. They had no clue what they were doing, but they took her for a financial ride. Let's just say, the floors are practically ply on the ground; the whole thing is rotting away. The electrical runs to them was half-arsed, nothing was done right, the whole thing is a mess.

My mother-in-law and her husband don't need those rooms, so they are just using them for storage, but they are technically "bedrooms". If an inspector comes out and sees them in their current condition, though, I'm not sure it'll matter how they are being used.

As for the second question, God willing, for quite some time. The worst of her problems is her COPD, she has to be on oxygen, and can hardly walk across her house without it. I don't want to get into the rest of it, because it's a bit of a pain point for me. Suffice to say, she's barely 50 and could probably become more functional if she'd do what she's supposed to. For a variety of reasons, though, it seems like that's not happening.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
oops...mods, can you please merge/delete this thread with my other one. I suppose that's what happened with those "other two posts", lol. When I originally posted this, the forum gave me an error and said something about the there being too many characters, I assumed it was the title. So, I re-titled it and it posted fine...didn't realize until just now it posted both.

Sorry!
 

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Re: Need help w/ a difficult real-estate situation in NJ

Ok she is young...

I have my contractor I can send out but he is in California. So then you might see if in your friends network if there's a contractor you all trust. Similar to the real estate lawyer. U might need to find one if you don't have one at hand.

It is always a big bummer to me to hear people get taken advantage of in contracting stuff.

Hope things work out

Marc
 

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Re: Need help w/ a difficult real-estate situation in NJ

P.S. There were two other posts in this thread that are now gone.... If the previous poster deleted their message and my quoted response went with it, I hope they didn't do so because they felt it provided no value or that I was dismissing it. I was thankful for the post and it did help me think about a few more things I may need to deal with.
You started two threads by mistake. I merged them for you.

Best wishes solving your problem.
 

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Re: Need help w/ a difficult real-estate situation in NJ

Unfortunately, I'd only be guessing what is needed.
No problem. Call a local house inspector, the kind everyone uses before they commit to buying a house. They should know local building codes, be able to find what's wrong that needs fixing, and sometimes suggest what it would cost to fix. They charge $450 typically.
 

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Re: Need help w/ a difficult real-estate situation in NJ

If you need a reference for a local and experienced real estate attorney I can make a recommendation of lawyer that I have used both of several real estate transactions and business deals. PM me if you would like his contact information or have a specific question.
 

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Re: Need help w/ a difficult real-estate situation in NJ

Try calling the New Jersey Bar association and ask them for a referral to an attorney that specializes in real estate in the part of the State where your family lives. Most bar associations provide this service. As another poster said, the information you told us in your first post is enough to alert the attorney to the questions that need to be asked. Good luck.
 
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