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Questions Answered by Thomas C. Valkenet
3 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Q: I have a sales contract for my house. I wrote the contract with the Disclosure for an as-is sale. Buyer rejects

There are multiple initials and signatures missing from the contract, including hers is missing on the page noted above (AS-IS). Post-inspection and appraisal (for a USDA loan), she states that that disclaimer is not part of the contract, and means nothing.

In an addendum, different... Read more »

Thomas C. Valkenet
Thomas C. Valkenet
answered on May 3, 2022

Did you treat the contract as "ratified," even with the missing items? Contracts grow and change, from the initial submission to the final document. Missing addenda and signatures may mean items were not agreed upon, or that simple mistakes were made. Your question doesn't allow for... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Consumer Law and Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Q: I lent a sculpture to a friend about ten years ago and it was on her front lawn all that time. She recently sold the

house and left the sculpture for the new owner. Do I have the right to reclaim my sculpture? I live in Montgomery County MD and that is where the sculpture is too.

Thomas C. Valkenet
Thomas C. Valkenet
answered on Apr 6, 2022

Your question is two layered: First, was this a loan? Or, did you gift the item to your friend? And what were the terms of such loan? Second, did the home sale include chattel items in the list of personal property to convey with the sale?

The direct approach often works- ask for return...
Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Q: When typing a deed, title, or will, does the text have to be single-spaced or double-spaced?

I'm taking a Real Estate course at college and have been tasked with writing a deed. However, our instructor did not clarify the spacing of the text.

Thomas C. Valkenet
Thomas C. Valkenet
answered on Apr 1, 2022

It need only be legible. If you research old deeds, they are hand-written, single spaced, in cursive. Recording is charged a flat fee, up to a page limit. Thus, longer documents can be in very small, single-spaced text, to minimize the cost of recording.

Go to the land records, on-line, and...
Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Q: My sister & I settled on our mother's home sale in Cumberland, MD in May 2021.

6 weeks ago we learned that the MD taxes haven't been turned in yet nor has the deed been filed. We have contacted our realtor & the Title co. and for 6 weeks no one is providing answers. Who should we contact next ? We are unable to file our taxes until we resolve this matter.

Thanks!!

Thomas C. Valkenet
Thomas C. Valkenet
answered on Mar 28, 2022

If you received a title insurance commitment or policy, make claim. This will trigger the insurance company to contact the title company (the title agent that issued your policy) for an explanation. This is your immediate pressure point. Your agent will be of little use on this issue, and the title... Read more »

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3 Answers | Asked in Consumer Law, Real Estate Law, Civil Litigation and Legal Malpractice for Maryland on
Q: I'm a realtor in MD and a client posted a defamatory google review...can I sue for non-economic damages?
Thomas C. Valkenet
Thomas C. Valkenet
answered on Mar 28, 2022

I am also a MD broker, and we have had this question from many of our clients, over time. The answer is entirely dependent on what the review says, and the circumstance. But it is extremely unlikely that you would ever recover non-economic damages. Have you exhausted your remedies with Google? Have... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Q: Tax Lien Auction caused by Settlement Company recording error. Who is liable?

I am the buyer and the Settlement company we hired incorrectly recorded the mailing address for Grantee/Buyer on the Government Intake form.

Due to the address error, important mail and tax bills were undeliverable to the Buyer and returned to sender. I confirmed this with our County... Read more »

Thomas C. Valkenet
Thomas C. Valkenet
answered on Mar 22, 2022

For a dispute over $3,000, your remedies become as expensive or more expensive than the loss. Absent a negotiated agreement, you must sue: Either for coverage under the policy, or the title company for negligence. You might also pursue a claim against the insurer in the Maryland Ins. Admin. The... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law and Civil Litigation for Maryland on
Q: Encroachment I have a survey with where my property starts and it ends and it ended over my neighbor’s fence

I have pictures and a video showings when the surveyor was doing the work he put a stake in her yard she has now removed the stake twice and will not remove here fence I am mailing her a letter giving her a copy of the survey and asking here to remove here fence within 30 days from the date on... Read more »

Thomas C. Valkenet
Thomas C. Valkenet
answered on Mar 17, 2022

Good for you, to be proactive! If she doesn't respond you can remove the fence. If you want to avoid a possible confrontation, or escalation of neighbor dispute, you might consider an action for trespass/ejectment in the Circuit Court.

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4 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Q: My mom died & the mortgage company made me Successor in Interest & says I can sell. Is opening an estate still needed?

The home is located in Baltimore, MD but I reside in SC. Right after her death I did call the probate courts in MD where I was told I didn’t need to open an estate and that’s when the mortgage company named me Successor. All the correspondence is addressed to the estate of my mom C/O myself. I... Read more »

Thomas C. Valkenet
Thomas C. Valkenet
answered on Mar 16, 2022

It is surprising that the buyer's title company and title insurance underwriters have not demanded curative action. But at this stage of the transaction, it is up to them to determine if they will accept title from you. Of course, you will remain responsible for any warranties of title in the... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Q: As a Successor in Interest am I obligated to open an estate just to sell a home

The mortgage company says I am able to do whatever I wish with the home but the realtor is unsure if opening an estate is necessary. I never opened one because I was told it was not necessary by the probate court in 2020 after my mom passed away.

Thomas C. Valkenet
Thomas C. Valkenet
answered on Mar 16, 2022

The mortgage company can't direct your actions. And unless you are named in the deed as a co-owner of a certain type, or a remainderman, you are considered a stranger to title. No title company will pass title without the signature of an "owner," or "personal... Read more »

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3 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Q: I co own a property with my ex girlfriend (she's on title with me), however, the loan is in my name. Can I sell

We're seperated

Thomas C. Valkenet
Thomas C. Valkenet
answered on Mar 14, 2022

The prior answers are both correct. You may sell, but the real estate broker you hire will require all co-owners to sign the broker listing agreement. This requires some coordination with your ex. Also, at the settlement table, your ex will have to sign the deed.

With cooperation, this can...
Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Contracts, Real Estate Law and Civil Rights for Maryland on
Q: can homeowner association board of directors restrict individual homeowners from talking with the press/journalists

my homeowner's association (hoa) president and the board of directors (bod) act as if ALL issues - specifically, talking with journalists for a possible light-hearted article that's essentially, an expanded real-estate/house-for-sale feature focusing on our community's positive... Read more »

Thomas C. Valkenet
Thomas C. Valkenet
answered on Feb 15, 2022

No, and heck no. Of course, if a homeowner's speech slanders or defames members of the Board, there may be individual consequence. Imagine if the HOA sought, by extension, to limit the speech of a homeowner's real estate agent. It is just silly.

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1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Q: Exectur of the estate keeps taking things from the home and giving them to her family. Can I change the locks
Thomas C. Valkenet
Thomas C. Valkenet
answered on Feb 7, 2022

If the Personal Representative is acting pursuant to Letters of Administration, and you believe they are not acting appropriately, your recourse is a motion to have the PR removed and replaced. If the person has not received formal Letters of Administration, you may open probate yourself and... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Land Use & Zoning, Landlord - Tenant and Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Q: can an adverse possessor evict the a land owner

can an adverse possessor evict the a land owner....

MD. Courts and Judicial Proceedings Code Ann. § 5-103 (2020) (File an action for recovery of possession of land).

Thomas C. Valkenet
Thomas C. Valkenet
answered on Jan 28, 2022

Adverse possession is a claim, not a basis for eviction. It is only after a judge enters an order declaring that titled ownership is not in the name of the claimant/adverse possessor that one can evict others on the land. There are myriad factors to a successful adverse possession claim. But until... Read more »

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3 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Q: Do I Need a lawyer ? to assist in a cash purchase of a condo in ocean city? Or what type of professional could assist

Want to avoid real estate agents, trying to keep costs down

Thomas C. Valkenet
Thomas C. Valkenet
answered on Jan 26, 2022

If you are purchasing, then your own broker/agent should be compensated out of the overall commission that is paid by the seller. The amount Seller's broker will share is in the MLS listing. As a law firm that also operates a real estate brokerage, we know that a lawyer drafting non-MAR... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Criminal Law and Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Q: MD Cts & Jud Pro Code § 5-103 (2019) Government land

Government land (It Doesn't Have To Be Obvious Of Abandonment) If Government land Was Sold To Another Government Department It Was Obvious Of Abandonment It Was Obvious Of Abandonment Before And And After After It Was Sold/Transfer To The Other Government Department. Can That Land Be Adverse... Read more »

Thomas C. Valkenet
Thomas C. Valkenet
answered on Nov 29, 2021

It is first-year property law-- the sovereign cannot lose land to adverse possession. We have successfully demonstrated governmental abandonment in limited cases. This requires a "overt act" of abandonment, which is very fact specific. But the limited facts your question shares are far,... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law and Criminal Law for Maryland on
Q: adverse possession when the owner takes back land in the same manner as the adverse possessor.

adverse possession when the owner takes back land in the same manner as the adverse possessor.that regards squatting or or squatting (no claim of right).

Thomas C. Valkenet
Thomas C. Valkenet
answered on Nov 14, 2021

You have not asked a question. As an academic matter, an owner who acquired Blackacre, or a portion thereof, from an adjacent owner could, in turn, lose the same land back to the original owner via adverse possession. It is fact specific, and will likely require a long look back in time,... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law and Land Use & Zoning for Maryland on
Q: Does a given property have the rights to remove a boundary fence at one end of his property to gain access to the r/w?

If a section of a common right of way is designated for the use and benefit of one property (B), can property (A) gain access to the common right of way from the far side of his property where it is designated for the use of property (B), just because it adjoins his property along the boundary? A... Read more »

Thomas C. Valkenet
Thomas C. Valkenet
answered on Nov 11, 2021

If I understand your question, A owns the land over which an easement exists for the benefit of B. A has removed a fence marking the easement. If that is the fact pattern, then A has rights to access her own land. A is obligated not to interfere with B's reasonable use of the easement. The... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law and Land Use & Zoning for Maryland on
Q: Still waiting: Does the State of Maryland require [by law] that an HOA be formed to enforce covenants?

I posted this question last week and received one very eloquent response as to the wisdom of forming an HOA so as to enforce covenants BUT, at the end of the day, I did not receive a straight up "yes" or "no" answer to my question which again is: "does the state of Maryland... Read more »

Thomas C. Valkenet
Thomas C. Valkenet
answered on Oct 12, 2021

Yes. The phrase "in place" means properly organized, and in good standing with the State of Maryland. There are instances where an HOA described in recorded declarations has been allowed to lapse, or is no longer functioning. There are reported appellate court decisions describing what... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Q: I planted trees & built a garden on the strip of land that the original owner of the property next-door told me was mine

The property has now sold for the third or fourth time & the new owners had a survey done. It shows the trees and garden are on their side of the survey line. We spoke to them within a week of their moving in and they said not to worry they couldn’t use that tiny strip of property next to... Read more »

Thomas C. Valkenet
Thomas C. Valkenet
answered on Oct 11, 2021

Yours is a common issue. Our Firm recently had this exact issue (dispute over ownership of flower beds near shared boundary) in a D.C. case. Do you have a survey? Perhaps it conflicts with the neighbor's survey. Also, have you or your predecessors used the beds to the exclusion of your new... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning, Real Estate Law and Probate for Maryland on
Q: What type of legal representation is needed for an inheritance buyout dispute where the home is in MD and I am in GA?

My siblings and I were willed a house. One sibling wants to keep the house and has made a buyout offer. I don't believe the buyout offer is equitable. I am seeking expertise with interpreting the appraisal to obtain a fair buyout offer. I have no idea what type of legal representation I need... Read more »

Thomas C. Valkenet
Thomas C. Valkenet
answered on Oct 5, 2021

This is something our Firm can help with. We are also real estate brokers with access to valuation tools. You want to avoid the cost of a partition action. Where co-owners can't agree on a sale, any one of them can run to court and compel the sale.

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