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Questions Answered by Richard Sternberg
2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law and Civil Litigation for Virginia on
Q: We just purchased a house under a Virginia Real Estate contract.

All parties agreed on price and signed. Can the seller back out because the appraisal came in higher than expected?

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Oct 28, 2019

It's very likely that backing out "because the appraisal came in higher" will be a breach of contract, but a lawyer reads the actual contract and looks for better reasons that the seller can -- or can be prevented from -- reneging.

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1 Answer | Asked in Probate for Maryland on
Q: What document can be used to support/prove intestate inheritance in MD for the death of a spouse 21 years ago?

My husband died without a will. All our "known" assets were joint owned so we did not see a need for probate since all he had went to me as surviving joint owner. I need some documented proof of inheritance to claim & sell some previously unknown property out of the country inherited by my... Read more »

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Oct 28, 2019

There is no statute of limitations on filing a probate. I've filed DC estates that were over 20 years old. Your biggest problem may be that $30,000 was more than a small estate 21 years ago in Maryland, so I think you need to file a regular estate, and the procedures last millennium were less... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Q: In MD can I be on a sale contract for a home if I’m not taking out the mortgage or can I only be on the deed and title?
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Oct 28, 2019

You almost certainly should be named in the sales contract if you will be on the deed unless the sales contract contains a provision for transferring or adding you. The deed should match the contract, and sometimes, it doesn't matter if it doesn't match the mortgage.

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2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Q: I am trying to find the deed record for a house I am wanting to buy in Va to see if there are any easements recorded.
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Oct 27, 2019

Order a title search from a reputable abstractor. That's what they do. If you you enter a contract contingent on the property being free and clear and the accepted contract is given to a lawyer doing the title transfer as a title agent, the title abstract is usually an included expense.

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2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Q: Can I be sued for $19000 because the basement gets water in it sometimes?

Sold my home “as is” and now I’m being sued by the buyers because when it rains hard water comes into the basement.

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Oct 24, 2019

Yes, you can be sued. Indeed, you know that because apparently. You have been sued. If you knew and concealed a latent defect. You can also lose, potentially with treble damages, punitive damages, costs, and attorneys’ fees, depending on where. You need a lawyer now.

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1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Q: Settlement and possession laws?

We closed on our house at 6pm Friday so the documents won’t be recorded until Monday. We’re also still working on finalizing an escrow holdback agreement for repairs seller needs to pay for post closing. It’s now Saturday and the sellers are asking for keys and access back to the property. We... Read more »

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Oct 19, 2019

You are the owner as of closing without regard to recordation, at least as to the seller, but what form of fantasy would lead you to close with an unfinished escrow agreement for repairs that aren't competed!? How are they to do the repairs? How are you to take occupancy? Who is responsible of... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Q: Hey question I my boyfriend and his mother all own a house split 3 ways. My boyfriend and I want to rent our rooms

This is legal even if she doesn’t want it correct cause we have the Majority 66% pull

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Oct 18, 2019

Co-tenancy isn’t majority rules unless the property is held by an entity like a corporation and the shareholders elect a board and president that orders sale. If the property is indivisible, like most homes, each owner has the right to occupy the whole, and each owner has the duty to contribute.... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Q: Does title insurance cover improperly subdivision Issues with the county on a piece of property.
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Oct 18, 2019

Possibly. You should report the issue to the title agent, but the title agent has an adverse interest, since he or she may be expected to correct the problem for free. You might also seek a consult with a local real estate lawyer.

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1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Q: Can a HOA Charge you for not power washing a deck that is the Responsibility for them to keep Maintenance of everything.
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Oct 17, 2019

What do the Covenants say about that? Do they incorporate any other documents, like bylaws? Do they create a governance system? Is that governance consistent with your state and sometimes local law? Did that governing body get duly selected in accordance with the applicable rules? Were the... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Insurance Defense and Probate for Virginia on
Q: My friend left me an insurance policy...family don't want to send it to me ...he died 3 months ago...how can I find out
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Oct 10, 2019

If you know the issuer of the policy, you can contact them. If you see that a probate estate has been filed, you can check the filings there, identify the policy, and make a claim if the policy has been included in the estate. If they will not cooperate and those sources are unsuccessful, a lawyer... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Contracts and Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Q: My realtor & broker refuses to take our property off the market after we told them to. Is this legal?

We wanted to get out of our contract but they declined that. So we decided to take the house off the market. They then told us the house would remain listed until the contract expired. Can they do yhis

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Oct 10, 2019

You need to read the listing contract and understand its effects. First, have you given an exclusive at a named price? What happens if they produce a willing, able, and ready buyer at that price? Are there exceptions for the discharge of the broker, like, for example, hiring another broker? What... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Q: What happens to the estate if all individuals named in the will can’t be located?

Will in probate in Arkansas

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Oct 5, 2019

All of my states have a procedure for depositing the share of the missing heir into the registry of the Court. Consult a local lawyer or the probate clerk's office.

2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Q: Can I break my lease if my apartment complex is being sold to a new company?
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Oct 5, 2019

No. Unless the then-owners agree with you to terminate the lease early, your lease is not affected by their transaction. Of course, there may be tactics to secure that agreement, and a lawyer might help with that.

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2 Answers | Asked in Probate for District of Columbia on
Q: Estate Representative. One beneficiary is in federal prison. What is DC Probate law for distribution of money?
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Oct 4, 2019

Being in prison doesn’t disqualify someone from an inheritance unless they killed their benefactor.

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1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Q: Under Maryland law if my condo is vacant (5 yrs) and I have told the HOA, can I still be charged for a common meter?

I thought that if notified the HOA would exempt you from the common electrical meter. I own a condo in 6 - 8 unit building with a common electrical meter. I notified the HOA that the condo would be vacant while working out of the State, so my usage has been zero for over 5 years. The unit has... Read more »

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Sep 24, 2019

The answer almost surely follows your declarations and the democratic decisions of the elected board. Start by reading those documents.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Maryland on
Q: I was the PR for my father's estate and I closed out the account about 5 years ago when I thought I had accounted for

everything, however, I found a claim in MD via the unclaimed property unit. I received a check made payable to the estate of my father care of me (the PR). How can I cash that check so I can pay the distributees? Check is for $102.86

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Sep 15, 2019

I know of no way to do it other than reopening the estate. It isn't hard, but it means filing a new accounting, and that certainly isn't worth the effort using a lawyer.

1 Answer | Asked in Probate for Virginia on
Q: I became administrator appointed by the courts after my aunt left my mother out of everything.

I have sent my aunt the paperwork from the courts and the renter of the house by certified mail. They have not abided by the court papers and sent me any info or rent money for the house. The rent we believe is still going to my aunt who is not executor or administrator to the estate . Can we go... Read more »

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Sep 13, 2019

I think I answered this one before. You have a duty assumed in your appointment as Administrator to marshal the assets, and that means using the power of the court to determine what is going on. Whether you do that by discovery in a chancery case or show cause orders or other motions depends upon... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Virginia on
Q: Need advice as administrator to will

My uncle passed with no will. My aunt and my mother are only surviving family . My aunt was the power of attorney before he died. After his death she sold property of the estate and gave other things away without consulting my mom. I became administrator of his estate. There is a house that is... Read more »

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Sep 13, 2019

Your options as I see them without an interview are:

1) Accept that your aunt is stealing from the estate. As Administrator of the estate who failed to protect the estate, you are likely to be personally liable for her thefts.

2) Resign and report the thefts to the Court. Let is be...
Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Q: Difference between offer to purchase real property and purchase agreement in Virginia

Buyer and seller entered into vague offer to purchase property in April. No further word from buyer until seller sent letter in August, stating all offers/ contracts have been rescinded. Buyer then called with closing date, saying he'd sue for breach of contract. Is offer to purchase a valid... Read more »

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Sep 12, 2019

You need a lawyer to review the actual exchanges. If an offer was accepted, it is a contract from that moment on, and it follows its terms until completed or breached.

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Q: How long does a seller have to remove personal items from the property after the sale is completed?

The seller returned several times a few weeks after the sale to take items from the mobile home yard and patio. Now, over a year after the sale, the seller returned to claim items in a outside shed. In the process,the previous owner cut off a lock on the shed and started to remove items. The... Read more »

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Sep 10, 2019

What's required is a contract review. In most sale of real estate contracts, there is a provision that items on the property except for a list in the contract convey to the buyer. If not, the common law of bailment probably applies, and the buyer became a gratuitous bailee of the goods. He may not... Read more »

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