ARTICLES & NEWS

REAL ESTATE CONTRACTS ARTICLES

Mediator

Seller and Buyer Should Mediate Before They Litigate

By Christopher Combs | August 30, 2020

Question: We signed a purchase contract to buy an expensive home in Carefree. We deposited $25,000 earnest money. Because of the COVID-19 crisis, however, our financial situation significantly changed, and we no longer want to buy the home. We agreed with the seller to cancel the purchase contract, and we are willing to forfeit the $25,000 earnest money. The seller has refused, however, to accept the $25,000 earnest money. Instead, the seller claims that, since the purchase contract was signed and escrow was opened, the value of the home has diminished at least $100,000 due to the COVID-19 crisis. The…

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Party House

CC&Rs Can Allow An HOA To Approve Potential Tenants

By Christopher Combs | August 23, 2020

Question: The problem in our community in Tempe is not short-term rentals, but rentals to ASU college students who turn the home into a modern-day “Animal House.” Can we amend our CC&Rs to prohibit rentals to tenants who are less than 21 years old? If not, can our HOA board of directors interview every potential tenant to eliminate the “John Belushi’s,” and only allow rentals to hard-working college students? Answer: Yes to both questions. First, although families with children, and disabled individuals, e.g., senior citizens with dementia, are both protected Fair Housing classes, age by itself is not a protected…

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homebuild and blueprint

Home Builders Require Mediation And Arbitration

By Christopher Combs | August 2, 2020

Question: We signed the builder’s purchase contract to buy a new home in the San Tan Valley. The builder’s sales agent made numerous false statements, especially in regard to the upgrades that were available in the home. The “bottom line” is that we canceled the purchase contract and demanded our $20,000 earnest money back. The builder refuses to give the $20,000 earnest money back to us. In addition, the builder demands reimbursement for the $28,000 cost of upgrades that the builder says are worthless to any new buyer of the home. Under the builder’s purchase contract we are required to…

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Mortgage repayment failure

Statute of Limitations for HELOCs

By Christopher Combs | July 26, 2020

Question: When we bought our Chandler home in 2006, we got a 30-year first mortgage with Bank of America, and a Wells Fargo $100,000 second mortgage home equity line of credit (“Wells Fargo HELOC”). We used this $100,000 for a swimming pool and for landscaping in our back yard. In 2011 we both lost our jobs and we had financial difficulties. Although we were able to keep our first Bank of America mortgage current, we stopped paying our Wells Fargo HELOC. Last week we received a letter from an attorney that our Wells Fargo HELOC balance is $160,000, and that…

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Text Message

Texts Between Seller and Buyer can be a Purchase Contract

By Christopher Combs | July 5, 2020

Question: We wanted to buy a beautiful home in Sedona. The problem during the negotiations for the purchase of this home was that we live in Phoenix and the seller lives in Texas. Neither of us were represented by brokers. Most of our negotiations with the seller were by texts between the seller and us. The major terms of the purchase contract were in these texts: the purchase price, the closing date, the name of the escrow company, and that there would be no financing. Each of the seller’s texts had the seller’s name and address at the bottom of…

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For Rent

Six-Month Lease with Right to Cancel After One Week is a Short-Term Rental

By Christopher Combs | June 28, 2020

Question: Our Chandler HOA has a CC&R that prohibits short-term rentals of a home for less than six months. The six-month lease that our lawyer drafted included a provision that allowed the tenant to cancel the lease and move out with one week’s notice. Our tenant signed this six-month lease, and at the same time gave us the one-week notice to move out. After our tenant moved out one week later, a neighbor complained to the HOA that this six-month lease was actually a short-term rental of one week. The HOA agreed with the neighbor, and fined us $500 per…

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Garage

Confirm Not Only Permit Issued But Construction Completed

By Christopher Combs | June 21, 2020

Question: When we purchased our East Valley home, the Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement (“SPDS”), line 150, said that there was a permit from the City of Chandler for the construction of the 2,000-square-foot detached garage. The SPDS, line 155, said that the detached garage had been “completed.” We want to use this detached garage for our collector cars and for an art studio. We recently learned, however, that although a permit from the City of Chandler was granted to build the detached garage, there was never a certificate of completion for the detached garage from the City of Chandler. For…

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cabin

Short-Term Rentals Continue To Cause Confusion

By Christopher Combs | June 14, 2020

Question One: In a recent column you said that a short-term rental in Scottsdale is getting “up to $20,000 per month.” That seems irresponsible to say the least. I take exception to you promoting the success of short-term rentals because these short-term rentals are such a problem here in Sedona, and I have never, nor will I ever, manage them. Our local community is suffering because of the recent state law SB 1350 prohibiting Sedona and other local communities from regulating short-term rentals. Answer: Thank you for your comments. Other readers, however, think that I am opposed to short-term rentals.…

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