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Questions Answered by Thomas C. Valkenet
1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Q: Unpermitted work

Hi. I am a buyer and under a contract to buy home in Montgomery County, MD. Our closing is end of August. I just learnt that the home has unpermitted work. Seller built a bathroom in the basement. Seller signed the Maryland Residential Property Disclaimer Statement. My agent is agreeing but... Read more »

Thomas C. Valkenet
Thomas C. Valkenet
answered on Aug 9, 2022

You can't get a full and complete answer on this free platform because any lawyer will have to review the documents. I assume you are referring to the standard MAR and perhaps GCAAR forms. In our litigation practice, I have considered the failure to disclose unpermitted work to be both a... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Q: I own a house with my ex and I’m still on the deed not the loan. I want to be bought out can I legal do that?
Thomas C. Valkenet
Thomas C. Valkenet
answered on Aug 2, 2022

Two co-owners may negotiate a buy-out. This pre-supposes that one is willing to sell. Does your divorce decree or settlement agreement describe the timing or mechanism for disposition of this asset? If not, you are left to file a lawsuit for partition if ex does not agree. The law doesn't... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law and Land Use & Zoning for Maryland on
Q: Can a neighbor claim possession of a community beach access pathway to the Chesapeake Bay?

Neighbor 1 has claimed possession of a community beach access pathway to the Chesapeake Bay .A 1923 deed conveyed right of access to the community. This right of access was confirmed in a 1935 court case ruling and also stated in a 1955 deed for the property in question. All subsequent deeds... Read more »

Thomas C. Valkenet
Thomas C. Valkenet
answered on Jul 24, 2022

You do not disclose whether you are 1, 2, 3 or perhaps an undisclosed 4. An academic response would require any lawyer to review the past title chain, the case law you reference, and perhaps inspect the conditions on the ground. You also mention at least one live lawsuit arising from the facts.... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Contracts and Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Q: We were given a buyer-broker agreement the day after we signed a contract to buy a house. Do we have to sign?

A realtor that helped us find a home to buy gave us buyer-broker agreement the day after we signed a contract to buy a house. We now close on home in a week and she is making us sign the buyer-broker agreement. She never told us we would have to sign any agreement with her brokerage prior to making... Read more »

Thomas C. Valkenet
Thomas C. Valkenet
answered on Jul 23, 2022

You misunderstand the document, and who pays the buyer's agent. Our lawyers are also licensed brokers, so we understand your question. It is the SELLER that pays the entire 6% commission, which is then SPLIT in some way with YOUR buyer's agent. The 2.5% you refer to DOES NOT come out of... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Q: MD Condo Act 11-125(e): This section's language is based on Investigating "damage" that already exists.

My condo has Noticed all 300 units in our hi-rise that they WILL be coming to "inspect" every unit for leaks and to ensure that we have the required (new rule) water alarms from 11/18-29/22. They are not presuming damage exists in all these units, nor that if damage does exist that it may... Read more »

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

Your questions references the Maryland Statute. You don't reference the condo by-laws and rules that specifically govern your unit/development. This is where you will find your answer, I am certain. There may also be a dispute resolution process in the by-laws or rules. You should also review... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Consumer Law, Contracts and Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Q: Can I hold our lender liable due to their negligence which caused us to lose earnest money deposit and other fees?

We were under contract to purchase our first home. The lender asked for a second extension on the closing date. The Seller was not happy but agreed under the terms that we would forfeit our earnest money deposit if closing did not happen. Our lender assured all parties involved that he only... Read more »

Thomas C. Valkenet
Thomas C. Valkenet
answered on Jul 11, 2022

Not likely. In Maryland there is a reported case called "Jacques," (my spelling may be off) which describes the standard of care owed by a lender to its prospective borrower. Whomever you consult should pull this line of cases for discussion.

2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Q: Hello, I’m under contract for a home and want to back out due to it under appraising

The realtor has informed me that I cannot back out of the contract or I will lose my security deposit. The original appraisal was disputed. The seller is pushing to pay for another appraisal to be done. The realtor has asked the lender to get approval for another appraisal, but at this point I just... Read more »

Thomas C. Valkenet
Thomas C. Valkenet
answered on Jul 8, 2022

If you have the standard MAR contract, the financing and appraisal addenda will describe a specific process to deal with this common situation. I say this as both a lawyer and Maryland licensed broker. Some agents will push for you to act outside the written process in order to preserve their right... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Q: I have squatters living next door for a year. Their waste water is entering my basement. How can I remove them?

The original owner died and the home was vacant. Can I use the nuisance property ordinance to remove them?

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

Actually a common issue in the City. In past cases, we have sued the owner (in your case, the estate or heirs of the property) for nuisance and injunctive relief. You can also press the City Solicitor's office and Dept. of Housing to press regulatory claims against the owner, or to initiate a... Read more »

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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 »

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