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Questions Answered by Richard Paul Zaretsky
2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law and Tax Law for Florida on
Q: I have been penalized for homestead exemption abuse because I did not move my homestead. Is there any relief I can seek?

I purchased a small townhouse in 2012 and made it my homestead. I later purchased a home but I kept the townhouse and rented it. I sold the home and purchased another and then another. Each time I moved into the home and lived there from 1 to 4 years. The mistake I made was never canceling and... Read more »

Richard Paul Zaretsky
Richard Paul Zaretsky answered on Aug 10, 2019

Unfortunately, ignorance is not an excuse to the law. You were rightfully tagged for your mistake. I have been through this before with clients and, indeed the ignorance argument is always used and always loses. You have no choice but to pay up and file homestead (hopefully with portability) on... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Florida on
Q: Agreement of sale signed, contingent upon VA appraisal. Appraisal came in considerably under agreement.

Seller would not negotiate and offer was withdrawn. Bank would only finance VA appraised value. Withdrew from contract. Home was placed back on market and now is pending. VA did a ROV and increased appraised value to a figure that would have worked for the sale. Do I have any... Read more »

Richard Paul Zaretsky
Richard Paul Zaretsky answered on Apr 1, 2019

You could negotiate again with the seller and try to enter into a new contract at the known appraisal number. But since you did not get an extension of the contract while the ROV was pending and instead terminated it based on the lower appraisal, you have no recourse against anyone.

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Florida on
Q: Is it legal for the selling Broker (escrow agents) to release the buyers deposit if seller refuses to sign cancellation?

Buyer & seller were disputing issues about removing TV mounts that r part of interior structure..buyers agent sent over 2 addendums 1)seller to remove, patch & paint. Or 2) cancellation & release of deposit...The Sellers, after I added some verbage to addendum felt comfortable signing to remove the... Read more »

Richard Paul Zaretsky
Richard Paul Zaretsky answered on Mar 27, 2019

From your question it is not clear who released the deposit to whom. It looks like Seller Broker had it but its not clear to whom it was released. Based on the question, it appears the funds should be returned to the Buyer.

The deposit should never be released without the signature of...
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1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Florida on
Q: Paying deceased grandmother's prop. taxes 7yrs. Uncle & mom have not carried out will. What can I do to obtain prop.?

The property is in Miami Fl., I would like to be able to insure it. After my grandmother passed away in my house in Naples, Fl my uncle and mother (her children) never carried out the will. My mother states she doesn't want to see my uncle and I simply have not spoken to my uncle since she passed.... Read more »

Richard Paul Zaretsky
Richard Paul Zaretsky answered on Mar 6, 2019

This is not going to be a straight forward process. Probably a probate needs to be open for the grandmother. Then the question is does she have a will or is there no will. Then the question is to whom does the house pass either by the terms of the will or by law.

It may be that you are...
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1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Florida on
Q: How can I get the mortgage to my home under my name (for tax reasons)?

My husband passed 3 yrs ago. The deed to the house is in both our names, but he had refinanced the home under his name only. The mortgage company claims the mortgage is not assumable. Probate is not a concern.

Richard Paul Zaretsky
Richard Paul Zaretsky answered on Jan 31, 2019

Is the mortgage signed by you - and you did not sign the promissory note?

If that is the case then performing under the mortgage includes performing under the note.

If the home was your marital residence and you were married at the time of the mortgage initiation, then I bet you...
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1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law and Elder Law for Florida on
Q: How long is a prepared deed date good for when prepared, signed, witnessed and notary and not recorde Can it be five ye

I want to prepare a deed, all free and clear. Dated, notarized and leave it with my will. How long is it good for without recording it at the county office? Ten years or after my death OK?

Richard Paul Zaretsky
Richard Paul Zaretsky answered on Jan 28, 2019

How long is not your issue. The way you want to do it, the deed will never been valid because what makes the deed valid is actual delivery to the grantee during your lifetime.

Estate planning is complicated. See an attorney to get it done correctly.

2 Answers | Asked in Foreclosure and Real Estate Law for Florida on
Q: How do I determine if Land Purchased in 1925 by a Direct Blood Relative was Properly Foreclosed according to 1920s Law?

Own an Orig October 1925 Warranty Deed for a Land Parcel (.23 Acres, 4 Lots) purchased by my Great Uncle (Maternal Grandmother's Brother) from the Federal Corporation. Parcel is in Northern Florida. I am a Direct Heir. He worked/resided in both Wash DC and Baltimore at that time. Died early 1927.... Read more »

Richard Paul Zaretsky
Richard Paul Zaretsky answered on Dec 24, 2018

The statutes of limitation, doctrine of laches and waiver all will bar you from making any claim that is almost 100 years old. Most of these statutes are 4 or 5 years. At most, 20 years.

If you really wanted, you could have an attorney do an abstract of the history of title and the basis...
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1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Florida on
Q: I have a question about real estate after someone dies with no will. (Palm Beach County, FL)

My father died in July. He left no will. While I am his biological child, his parental rights were terminated in the 1970s and I was legally adopted by my step-father. When my father died, he owned a condo, which is not even close to being paid off. He did not own anything else, has no life... Read more »

Richard Paul Zaretsky
Richard Paul Zaretsky answered on Nov 24, 2018

If you were adopted by another person and by reason of the adoption your natural father's paternity rights were terminated, then you are no longer your natural father's descendant for estate purposes. As such, the rights to the condo do not flow to you as an heir and thus you have no liability to... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Florida on
Q: How easy is it to obtain a right of way/necessity easement in Duval County/City of Jacksonville?

I am looking at property and there are access issues from the public road. The property owner has said he'll accept an easement for a large cash payment. Is it possible to force an easement if the property is land locked?

Richard Paul Zaretsky
Richard Paul Zaretsky answered on Nov 4, 2018

Easements are tricky and you must use an attorney or you will definitely have problems.

There are some easements of necessity and a history of the surrounding parcels needs to be examined to determine where an easement may be required by law. See an attorney to get this accomplished.

3 Answers | Asked in Tax Law and Real Estate Law for Florida on
Q: In Fl my wife and I are on the deed but only I am on the Note. Are we both legally responsible for prop taxes and ins?

My wife is buying a second home in Ny and lender is saying my wife even though she isn't on the home loan note in Florida is still legally responsible to pay property tax and insurance because she is on Deed. The property tax and insurance come on the home loan bill in my name only because she... Read more »

Richard Paul Zaretsky
Richard Paul Zaretsky answered on Oct 27, 2018

The answer is in different parts.

1. Real Estate Taxes - these are not a personal obligation to an owner. If the tax is not paid the taxing authority can lien the property, but they cannot get a money judgment against the owner. Under the mortgage it says that the mortgagor is obligated...
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2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Florida on
Q: On a Far bar AS IS realtor sales contract can a buyer use the contingency to just back out without inspecting

On a Far bar AS IS realtor sales contract

The inspection period ran out and just before it did the buyer's realtor emailed over an addendum with a lower offer claiming "due to inspection issues" , the problem I have is that they never inspected the house and are lying saying they did just... Read more »

Richard Paul Zaretsky
Richard Paul Zaretsky answered on Oct 8, 2018

The AS IS form contract to which I believe you are referring allows an unconditional right of termination during the inspection period. When I say unconditional, I mean if the buyer does not like the way the sun hits the rear yard, that is reason enough. So it can really be anything or nothing.... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Florida on
Q: We are in an upside down situation with a land plot mortgage in Florida. What can we do without hurting our credit?

No one will refinance and it is balloon mortgage. No one will buy it for the amount owed. If we sold it for current market value, we would still owe money. It is causing extreme financial stress. The owner with me is my ex-husband.

Richard Paul Zaretsky
Richard Paul Zaretsky answered on Oct 5, 2018

Essentially you have no solution that will meet the criteria of not affecting your credit.

See an attorney to see what options you may have and which may be the least unappetizing.

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2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Florida on
Q: I had a 10 Year HELOC that matured in Dec 2105 with a zero balance. Can the servicer purchase property insurance in

in 6/16 and send me a closing statement May 2018 requesting repayment of the money they spent on insurance?

Richard Paul Zaretsky
Richard Paul Zaretsky answered on Oct 4, 2018

If your mortgage matured more than 5 years before the placement of insurance, then the lender at that time had no insurable interest because of the statute of repose.

This is a very specialized issue and if there is no satisfaction of mortgage, you may need to do a quiet title action to...
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1 Answer | Asked in Consumer Law, Contracts and Small Claims for Florida on
Q: hello i need to know when my duties with a financed card debt ends if the car is towed and sold in auction.

the car dealer is suing the towing company because they sold the car. I don't have any car have to return the tag but they said that i have to continue paying the car payments remaining 6000.oo dollars.

Richard Paul Zaretsky
Richard Paul Zaretsky answered on Sep 27, 2018

Your obligation to pay the loan is complete when the loan is paid off.

If the car is sold at auction because it broke down and the sale is to cover storage or repair costs you did not pay, the amount realized from the sale will pay the bill for the storage or repairs and any excess will...
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2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Florida on
Q: We offer asking price on house $165k and put a $5,000 deposit .

The day the property listed the seller moves abroad. We are now told we have to wait two days to see the highest offer apparently multiple offers are coming in .It appears that the sellers realtor was not in fact looking for the sale price as advertised and that placing on the market the day the... Read more »

Richard Paul Zaretsky
Richard Paul Zaretsky answered on Sep 23, 2018

There are all sorts of strategies for marketing a home. Offering the asking price does not ensure anything more than the broker is entitled to its commission from the seller at that price for bringing in that contract whether or not the seller accepts the contract. But the seller does not have to... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law, Landlord - Tenant and Small Claims for Florida on
Q: in Florida, what's the statue of limitations for filing a small claims court suit for an unreturned security deposit?
Richard Paul Zaretsky
Richard Paul Zaretsky answered on Sep 16, 2018

If the lease was in writing, the obligation is enforceable for 5 years. If not in writing, it is 4 years. Have an attorney look at your situation immediately. If there is a security deposit violation by the landlord the attorney fees for the tenant may be recoverable as part of the damages.

1 Answer | Asked in Business Law for Florida on
Q: Can a business broker provide legal advice to a seller of a business in Florida? I am the buyer of the business.

I am in the process of buying a business and my attorney created an excellent closing agreement. The broker says it heavily favors me and for the seller not to sign it. The broker is not an attorney. So now the seller wants to use a fill in the blank document for the business which is not... Read more »

Richard Paul Zaretsky
Richard Paul Zaretsky answered on Sep 15, 2018

A non-lawyer can never provide legal advice. Period. But don't confuse legal advice with personal opinion.

You have an attorney - listen to your attorney as that person is being paid to protect your interests. The seller wants to sell and the broker was a broker fee. Understand...
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2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Florida on
Q: Do I have any legal action against seller's if they didn't fulfill addendum to contract?

I recently purchased my first home, it's my retirement investment. I will be renting it out until I am able to relocate to the area. Before closing the sellers agreed to rewire the house, reinforce the attic area to make it safe and reinforce the foundation to make it secure, as there were many... Read more »

Richard Paul Zaretsky
Richard Paul Zaretsky answered on Sep 13, 2018

This depends on the language in the addendum and contract. By closing you may have waived those requirements. The documents should be reviewed by an attorney (who you should have had initially for the transaction, of course).

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3 Answers | Asked in Contracts and Real Estate Law for Florida on
Q: Am I under contract?

I received a signed contract from buyer´s realtor, then I made changes in two clauses, initialized those changes and signed all contract´s pages. Buyer´s realtor did not accept those 2 changes and requested to go back to original conditions. Today I received better offers and informed buyer´s... Read more »

Richard Paul Zaretsky
Richard Paul Zaretsky answered on Sep 5, 2018

You have an offer. You rejected the offer and made a counter offer. The counter offer was rejected. You never had a contract. All you had were unilateral offers.

What you should consider is to withdraw your unaccepted counter offer so all you have is their unacceptable offer unsigned by...
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2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Florida on
Q: Does the 3 day notice only supposed to be for past due rent? If it contains next month or wrong amount is that legal
Richard Paul Zaretsky
Richard Paul Zaretsky answered on Aug 27, 2018

You are correct.

The 3 day notice is for past due amounts only and is not for prospective amounts.

The question then comes to whether a demand for rent with incorrect amounts is legally sufficient to support a claim for eviction. The judge's have some discretion on this issue....
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