HouseLogic Articles

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Real Estate Terminology for First Timers

First time buyers face a learning curve that can feel overwhelming if the right level of support and education is not available. It's not enough to merely educate one's self on buying strategies, mortgage application, and closing process. Buyers must also navigate through a sea of unfamiliar legalese, home building lingo and real estate specific jargon.
The glossary below is by no means complete and is no substitute for the careful guidance of an experienced real estate agent, but it can serve as a good primer for consumers getting their feet wet in real estate for the first time.
Agency - The relationship of trust that exists between buyers or sellers and their agents. The agency is formed via a written contract.
Amortization - The process of paying the principal and the interest on a mortgage through regularly scheduled payments.
Appraised Value - A licensed appraiser's opinion of the current market value of a property.
Assessed Value - A tax assessor's determination of the value of a home in order to calculate a tax base.
Breezeway - A roofed passage way with open sides.
Capital improvement - Any improvement that extends the life or increases the value of a piece of property.
Comparable sales - Recent sales of similar properties in nearby areas and used to help determine the market value of a property. Also referred to as "comps."
Contingency - A provision of an agreement that keeps the agreement from being fully legally binding until a certain condition is met. One example is a buyer's contractual right to obtain a professional home inspection before purchasing the home.
Dry Rot - Decay of seasoned wood caused by fungus.
Earnest Money Deposit - A deposit made by the potential home buyer as evidence of good faith that he or she is serious about buying the house.
Easement - A right or interest in the use of the land of another which entitles the holder to some use, privilege or benefit, such as to place power lines, pipe lines or roads.
Abbreviations in Listing Advertisements
The agent shorthand found in listing ads can baffle the average consumer. Below are some of the most common acronyms and abbreviations found on listings.
AGP - Above Ground Pool
ATT - Attached
CA, CAC -Central Air Conditioning
CH/BW - Chain Link/Barbed Wire
EIK - Eat-in-kitchen
FDR - Formal dining room
FP - Fireplace
FSBO - For Sale By Owner
Gar - Garage
HDW/HWF/Hdwd - Hardwood Floors
HVAC - Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning
IGP - In-ground pool
MLS - Multiple Listing Service
NC - New construction
PSF - Per Square Foot
SFD - Single Family Detached
Upr - Upper floor
w/d - washer/dryer
wic - walk-in-closet
Egress - The exit point from a property.
Escrow - An item of value, money, or documents deposited with a third party to be delivered upon the fulfillment of a condition. For example, the earnest money deposit is put into escrow until delivered to the seller when the transaction is closed.
Energy Star - A joint program through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy that sets energy efficiency guidelines for products, homes and businesses.
Equity - A homeowner's financial interest in a property. Equity is the difference between the fair market value of the property and the amount still owed on its mortgage and other liens.
Fixtures - Those parts of a property affixed to structures or land, usually in such a manner that they cannot be independently moved without damage to themselves or the property housing supporting or pertinent to them. Fixtures are usually included in a sale and commonly include but are not limited to items such as carpets and awnings.
Full Disclosure - In real estate, revealing all the known facts which may affect the decision of a buyer or tenant. A broker must disclose identified defects in the property for sale or lease.
Green building - Also known as sustainable building or environmental building, this definition varies depending on the agency or group. Generally it means to construct a building to the highest environmental standards by minimizing the use of energy, water and materials. A green building, for example, might have skylights, recycled building materials and solar panels.
Ingress - The entry point to a property.

Lien - A legal claim against a property that must be paid off when the property is sold. A mortgage or first trust deed is considered a lien.
MLS (Multiple Listing Service) - An MLS is an organization that collects, compiles and distributes information about homes listed for sale by its members, who are real estate brokers. MLS's are local or regional.
Private mortgage insurance (PMI) - Mortgage insurance that is provided by a private mortgage insurance company to protect lenders against loss if a borrower defaults. Most lenders generally require PMI when the amount borrowed exceeds 80% of the purchase price or home's value.
Plat - A plan, map or chart of a tract or town site dividing a parcel of land into lots.
Subdivision - An area of land laid out and separated into lots, blocks, and building sites, and in which public facilities such as streets, alleys, parks, and easements for public utilities are also planned.
Sweat equity - used to describe the contribution made to a project by people who contribute their time and effort.
Title - A legal document evidencing a person's right to or ownership of a property.
Title company - A company that specializes in examining and insuring titles to real estate.
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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

ARM loans: A risk worth taking?

Part 1: Mortgage selection in post-crisis market
Jack Guttentag
Inman News

Editor's note: This is Part 1 of a two-part series.

One of the most critical decisions mortgage shoppers must make is the type of mortgage that best meets their needs. The importance of the decision has been heightened by a post-crisis market in which price differences between all categories of mortgages are unusually large.

The decision process can be divided into three parts: The first is whether to select an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) or a fixed-rate mortgage (FRM). All ARMs today are 30 years, and in this article we compare them to a 30-year FRM.

The second part of the decision process, for those who elect the FRM over the ARMs, is to select the term of the FRM.

The third part is to decide whether or not to take an interest-only payment option. Parts two and three are the subject of next week's article.

FRMs offer borrowers interest rate and payment stability. This is particularly advantageous to borrowers who are not sure how long they will have their mortgage, and who find the FRM payment affordable. ARMs offer borrowers a lower interest rate and payment in the early years, which is particularly advantageous to borrowers who know about how long they will have their mortgage. ARMs also work for borrowers who require the lower initial rate to make the initial payment affordable, and can handle the risk of rising payments in the future.

Taking account of price differences: Borrowers should take account of the price differences between FRMs and ARMs in deciding between them. If there is no or little price difference, there is no good reason to select an ARM.

This was the case when I last addressed the issue in 2006. On Oct. 8 of that year, I shopped for a $320,000 loan on a $400,000 single-family home in California to a borrower with excellent credit and adequate documented income. The market at that time offered this borrower a 30-year FRM at 6 percent and zero points, and a 3/1 ARM at 5.75 percent and zero points. The 5.75 percent rate held for only three years, after which the rate adjusted every year.

My conclusion at the time was that the 0.25 percent price difference between the FRM and the 3/1 ARM was not large enough to justify the price risk on the ARM -- with the possible exception of borrowers who confidently expected to be out of their house within three years. ARMs with initial-rate periods of five, seven and 10 years were priced between the FRM and the 3/1 ARM, making them even less attractive.

Today, the price differences are much larger and ARMs are correspondingly more attractive. On Jan. 8, 2010, I shopped the same loans described above. The 30-year FRM was 5.125 percent and the 3/1, 5/1, 7/1 and 10/1 ARMs were 4 percent, 4.125 percent, 4.5 percent and 4.875 percent, respectively. The borrower taking the 3/1 ARM rather than the FRM now saves 1.125 percent in rate rather than 0.25 percent. Note that while market prices change every day, the price differences between FRMs and ARMs are relatively stable in the short run.

ARM borrowers with short time horizons: When the pricing is advantageous, the most logical candidate for an ARM is the borrower who expects to be out of the house before the initial-rate period is over. While few borrowers can be certain about this -- life sometimes confounds our best plans -- the rate savings should substantially outweigh the risk of being caught by a rate adjustment. If you expect to be out within three, five, seven or 10 years, select a 3/1, 5/1, 7/1 or 10/1 ARM, as the case may be.

ARM borrowers who need the lower initial payment: A second reason to select an ARM is the lower initial payment associated with the lower initial rate. In some cases, the borrower needs the ARM in order to meet the lender's underwriting requirements, which include maximum ratios of mortgage payment and other expenses to borrower income. In other cases, borrowers need the ARM to meet their own views of what constitutes an affordable payment.

Borrowers who select an ARM because they need the lower payment assume the risk of a possible rate and payment increase at the end of the initial-rate period. Borrowers faced with this decision should ask themselves: "Is this a risk worth taking" and "Can I afford to take it?"

The best way I know to deal with these questions is by determining what will happen to the rate and payment on the ARM if market interest rates change in ways that the borrower specifies. This "scenario analysis" provides a measure of the risk if rates increase, and the benefit if they don't. It also allows borrowers to determine the extent to which they can reduce the risk on the ARM by making the larger payment that they would have made had they selected the FRM.

To do a scenario analysis, you must know all the features of the ARM that affect future rates and payments: the rate index used by the ARM; its current value; rate adjustment caps; and the lifetime maximum rate. You should have this information anyway; otherwise, you don't know whether you have found the best deal on your ARM.

Readers who want to do a scenario analysis on an ARM will find an explanation of how to do it, with an example, on my Web site in Choosing Between Adjustable and Fixed Rate Mortgages.

The writer is professor of finance emeritus at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Comments and questions can be left at


What's your opinion? Leave your comments below or send a letter to the editor. To contact the writer, click the byline at the top of the story.

Copyright 2010 Jack Guttentag

Short sale buyers seek closure

New guidelines offer glimmer of hope

Benny Kass
Inman News

DEAR BENNY: Almost six months ago, we made an offer to buy a condominium, under a short-sale arrangement. Our real estate agent called it a clean deal, as we are paying cash and all closing costs.
Our agent has called the listing agent and I have called the bank that holds the current mortgage (although they say they cannot discuss this with me for legal reasons) to try to learn why we cannot get an answer to our offer. My wife and I are anxious because we want to resolve this one way or the other. Didn't our president get a new law enacted that is forcing the banks to respond promptly? We need some help, and the bank is dragging its feet. --Bob

DEAR BOB: Although the federal government is attempting to get lenders to shorten the time they have in which to respond to short-sale proposals, there currently is no federal law on this subject.

However, on Nov. 30, 2009, the Department of the Treasury issued guidelines that lenders are encouraged to follow. It is a complex process. Homeowners who are underwater can request that their lender preapprove short-sale terms. Although it is not clear how long the lender (or the servicer of the mortgage) has to respond, once the lender determines the amount it will be willing to accept from a short sale, the borrower has 120 days in which to find a buyer for the property.
When the homeowner enters into a sales contract with a potential buyer, and assuming that the lender has already preapproved the terms and conditions for a short sale, the lender must approve or disapprove the short sale within 10 business days after receiving the sales contract.
Accordingly, if you are a homeowner in financial trouble, talk with a real estate agent to start the preapproval process. This will take the most time, so you should begin this as soon as possible. There is a lot of paperwork involved that has to be presented to the lender.
The Treasury directive requires that once the short sale takes place, the homeowner/seller must be fully released from future liability. This has been a real problem in the past, since many lenders -- after allowing a short sale -- were still going after their borrowers for the deficiency -- the difference between the net sales proceeds and the outstanding balance of the loan.
You can access this directive from the Web site of the Home Affordable Modification Program. Although lenders are encouraged to follow the guidelines now, technically they do not take effect until April 5, 2010, and will sunset Dec. 31, 2012.
DEAR BENNY: I am shocked by the extent of the deception and downright fraud being perpetrated on timeshare sellers through so-called "timeshare marketing" companies. My wife has been handling the listing of our "timeshare week" and has signed up with at least four companies. Each promise quick results or money back.

Once you start you are on the "list" and start receiving calls from multiple "boiler room" operations stating that they have an offer in hand, usually at more than you have listed the property at. All they want to proceed with the deal is $900 to cover expenses with title search, etc. Most if not all of these outfits operate out of Florida in the Orlando and Palm Beach areas.
I have contacted the attorney general's office of Florida and basically was told to be careful and not to give any money up front. These companies swear that they have buyers and that we should trust them.
This could be one of the biggest scams presently going on in the U.S. The targets are usually seniors, like my wife, who used her Social Security money to advance a couple of these companies. Of course, they never call back. It would be interesting to see how many of your readers have been approached by these operations and what their experience has been.
If you question the callers too much or ask hard questions, they simply hang up. I have written a couple of Better Business Bureaus in Florida and they are sympathetic but have no remedy.

I suggest it is time for the attorney general of Florida to conduct an investigation into this matter and grand juries should be convened to also address the issue. To date, despite numerous requests, we have not had any money returned.

I have a fairly good e-mail record of communications with these companies, many of which simply go out of business and open up somewhere else in the state. Florida is too lax and senior citizens are being hurt. --Jack
DEAR JACK: Many thanks for sending me this information. Because it is very important, and because a lot of the e-mail questions I receive involve timeshares, I am sharing your comments with my readers.
I can't force the attorney general of Florida -- or any state for that matter -- to investigate these companies, but if enough consumers send complaints to their elected representatives (both in Congress as well as at the state and local level), perhaps some action will be taken.
Furthermore, because so many people want to sell their timeshare interests, perhaps the industry itself should create a mechanism for this.
In the meantime, if you are approached by a timeshare salesperson, here are some suggestions. First, ask yourself: "Do I really want this? Is it really worth the money?"

Next, don't be pressured into signing up the first day. Despite statements by the salesperson that all benefits are good for today only, sleep on the proposal for at least one day. High-pressure sales tactics are rampant in the timeshare industry.
Ask for copies of all documents and contracts that you will have to sign, and take them to your lawyer for review. If the salesperson tells you that you cannot take those documents with you, politely tell him or her "thank you" and walk away.
Finally, if you are trying to sell a timeshare, follow the advice of the attorney general. Do not give anyone money up front. You can sign a contract declaring that if your timeshare is in fact sold, the company that located the buyer will be paid when the closing takes place.
DEAR BENNY: I am the president of a condominium association. We are presently experiencing a roof leak from a limited common element (patio over an area of the roof). This area can be accessed only through the owner's unit, as it is on the top floor of the building and is for the owner's use only.

Who has the responsibility to repair these leaks: the board or the unit owner? This has not become an issue to date with the owner, but it could in the future and I was wondering how the board should proceed on this matter if it does become an issue. --Dan
DEAR DAN: You have called this a patio, and I call it a "roof deck." Either way, it is a limited common element, which means that although it is not within a unit (it is technically located in a common area) not all owners have access to that area.
You have to review your association's legal documents and especially the bylaws. Most documents I have seen place the maintenance responsibility on the association. Why? Because if someone were injured or the property were damaged as a result of a problem coming from a limited common element, the association would be sued (as well as the unit owner who owned the limited common element), and could be found liable and required to pay a lot of money. Additionally, the unit owner may decide not to do the repairs, and further damage would result.
Access to the roof should not be a problem. If the unit owner refuses to allow a contractor access through his unit so as to get to the roof, the board can file suit asking a judge to force the owner to provide access. Indeed, I suspect there is language to that effect in your legal documents.
The real question is "Who pays for the repair?" Again, your bylaws may be helpful. Some require that the limited common element unit owner reimburse the association for any such repair costs. Unfortunately, many legal documents are silent on this issue.

And while it is clearly unfair for owners who do not have access to the roof deck to have to pay for any maintenance and repair costs, since it is a common element, all owners may have to share in these expenses.
Your state may have some court decisions on this issue, so talk with the association's attorney for specifics.

Benny L. Kass is a practicing attorney in Washington, D.C., and Maryland. No legal relationship is created by this column. Questions for this column can be submitted to

What's your opinion? Leave your comments below or send a letter to the editor. To contact the writer, click the byline at the top of the story.
Copyright 2010 Inman News

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tax credit extended April 2010!

Now homeowners can take advantage of tax credit until April 30, 2010.

Krista Votruba joins The Piercy Group

The Piercy Group is very proud to have Krista Votruba join us. Krista's full bio will be posted shortly on our website.

It still pays to remodel

Survey identifies most cost-effective home improvements

Dian Hymer
Inman News

The home-sale market has taken a beating in the last few years, which begs the question: Does it makes sense financially to invest in home improvements?

Remodeling Magazine's annual Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report for 2009-10, published in agreement with the National Association of Realtors, indicates that remodeling still pays off, but more so on less expensive projects.

Most high-end remodeling projects don't return dollar for dollar on the investment even in a good market. That is, unless homes are appreciating at a fast clip. In this case, you might get your money back due to appreciation. But the profit on the sale might not be as much as it would have been if you hadn't done a high-end renovation.

Just as today's homebuyers are making pragmatic decisions, so are today's homeowners when it comes to making improvements. Most of the remodeling projects with the largest return were for such things as replacing exterior siding and windows. On average the cost involved was less than $14,000, according to Remodeling Magazine.

These projects returned from 71 to 83 percent nationally depending on the materials used. The project that paid back the highest return was a midrange front-door replacement that cost approximately $1,200 and returned an average 128.9 percent nationally.

Sellers may wonder why it would make sense to invest in an improvement just for the sake of selling if it won't repay the amount invested. In today's challenging home-sale market, these improvements may be warranted for the home sell at all if there is a lot of inventory in your neighborhood. Buyers expect more for their money and gravitate to listings that are in the best condition for the price.

HOUSE HUNTING TIP: Be judicious about how you spend your money fixing your home up for sale. For example, if your kitchen is a disaster, it makes more sense to do a midrange than an upscale renovation. According to the Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report, a midrange minor kitchen upgrade will return an average of 78.3 percent nationally. A major upscale kitchen remodel will pay back only 63.2 percent.

The national average returns on remodeling investments do not give an accurate picture of the renovation returns that might be typical in your neighborhood. For instance, the payback for Honolulu homeowners for most of the 18 remodel projects analyzed returned 100 percent of the investment. San Francisco was close behind with 10 projects paying back the full investment.

The Cost vs. Value Report recommends the following cost-effective improvements you might consider to prepare your home for the market: tidying up the kitchen cabinets using organizers will make your cabinets roomy; add an inexpensive tile backsplash to a tired kitchen, and use inexpensive tile to give an old bathroom a new look; add a breakfast bar by cutting an opening between the kitchen and family room; and install granite tile rather than slab.

Other suggestions include: replacing outdated light fixtures; freshening up the basement; giving the kitchen cabinets a new look by reconditioning and adding new knobs or having cabinet doors and drawers replaced; updating a bathroom without replacing tile by changing the medicine cabinet, light fixtures, vanity, cleaning the grout or replacing it and adding glass shower doors.

The findings of this report were based on a survey sent to 150,000 appraisers and real estate agents in the summer of 2009. The survey included information about the cost and description of the remodel projects and median price data for the 80 metropolitan areas surveyed. Some 6,233 survey respondents estimated how much value the improvements would add to the house at resale in the current market.

THE CLOSING: Before starting any fix-up-for-sale projects, seek your real estate agent's advice so that you don't waste money on improvements that won't pay back much in your area.

Dian Hymer, a real estate broker with more than 30 years' experience, is a nationally syndicated real estate columnist and author of "House Hunting: The Take-Along Workbook for Home Buyers" and "Starting Out, The Complete Home Buyer's Guide."


What's your opinion? Leave your comments below or send a letter to the editor. To contact the writer, click the byline at the top of the story.

Copyright 2010 Dian Hymer

Tax bite from selling moms house?

Defer capital gains hit with 1031 exchange

Benny Kass
Inman News

DEAR BENNY: After my father-in-law passed away, my husband's mother moved to be near us and bought a home, eventually putting it in my husband's name. She passed away four years ago and my husband has not sold the home. We are a few years away from retirement. Would it be better to wait until his income is lower to sell or sell now? We really don't know what to do and I think my husband worries about the big tax bill he will get. --Irene

DEAR IRENE: I suggest you discuss the tax situation with your financial advisors. I cannot advise you or even speculate on what your tax bill might be if and when you sell the property. You have to determine what the tax basis of the property was on the date your mother-in-law died, and (depending on what state you live in) you may be eligible for what is known as the "stepped-up" basis -- i.e., the value of the property on the date of death. (Note: For 2010 only, this concept is not applicable unless Congress changes its mind.)

But if you are nearing retirement, and plan to move to another area, have you considered a Starker (section 1031 exchange)? The house in question is not your principal residence and thus would be considered investment property.

Let's say you want to move to Florida two years from now. You sell the house, and exchange it for a rental property in Florida. After renting it out for a year or two, you move into it and declare it your principal residence. The tax basis of the new property will be the basis of the exchanged property, but you will not have to pay any tax now if you follow the procedures of such an exchange.

You will need professional guidance to do it right.

Also make sure that the house is in the name of your husband only. If it's not, you may have to probate your mother-in-law's estate so that the property will go into his name.

DEAR BENNY: I am an 81-year-old widow who bought a townhouse four years ago. There were some odd things going on here so I installed a security system. I have been told that the security sign I have in front of the townhouse is considered advertising and I have to take it down. There are three other areas in town that have townhouses and none of them have a problem with this. What happens if I refuse to take the sign down? --Lillian

DEAR LILLIAN: Different associations have different rules and regulations, and all homeowners are legally obligated to follow those rules. If your association does not permit signs to be posted outside your home and you refuse to remove your sign, the board of directors could fine you and/or ask a court to require you to honor and follow those rules.

That's a general answer as to the things that association boards of directors can do if a unit owner fails to comply with the rules. However, in your case, you should meet personally and talk with the president of the association. Explain your situation and ask for a waiver of the rules. Point out that your sign really is not advertising.

If the board refuses, I suggest that you contact an attorney to assist you. I am sure you can find a lawyer who will take your case on a no-fee basis called "pro bono." Also, AARP may be able to assist you.

However, let me ask this question. While I understand that you want the outside world to know that you have a security system in your house, do you really need that outside sign? Isn't it sufficient that you have the actual system installed in your house? Perhaps you and the board can reach some kind of compromise -- such as having a sign in your window so that outsiders will be on notice of that system.

DEAR BENNY: Could you please give me the IRS citation number of the repeat credit. I cannot find it on the IRS Web site. --Richard

DEAR RICHARD: I received a number of questions about the "repeat credit," but did not know what they were asking about. I e-mailed one of my readers, who explained this was the new law that allows present homeowners -- under certain conditions -- to claim a tax credit previously available only to first-time homebuyers.

You can get information on both credits on the IRS Web site ( here, or by typing in "first-time homebuyer credit" in the search box in the upper right corner of the home page.

Last November, Congress enacted the Worker, Homeownership and Business Assistance Act of 2009. It extended the time that first-time homebuyers could get an existing tax credit of up to $8,000 beyond the previous Nov. 30, 2009, deadline. Now, in order to be eligible for the credit, you must have a binding sales contract signed by April 30, 2010, and must actually go to closing (also called "escrow") before July 1, 2010.

There are a number of restrictions, including income limitations, and you should consult with your own tax advisors to make sure that you are eligible.

In extending the first-time homebuyer tax credit, Congress also allowed some existing homeowners to claim a smaller credit, which some of you have labeled as a repeat credit. If you currently own a home that you have used as your principal residence for any consecutive five-year period during the eight-year period that ended on the date that the replacement home is purchased, you may be eligible for a $6,500 credit. Once again, your sales contract must be signed by April 30 and in settlement before July 1, 2010.

DEAR BENNY: You recently wrote about how "limited common elements" can include a person's patio. I haven't heard the term "limited" before relative to common elements. In the case you cited, I understand you to mean that the condominium association has the right to have its architectural review committee set some standards for limited common elements, such as patios. I presume this also pertains to wooden decks and balconies that are accessible only from the inside of the unit. If so, does this mean that the association is liable for the repair of cracked decks or deteriorating external rear wooden decks/balconies as they would be if these were deemed to be common elements? --Lew

DEAR LEW: Every condominium contains three basic elements: the common elements (such as the roof, elevator or main entrance); units (the place in which owners physically reside, usually described as wall-to-wall and ceiling-to-floor); and limited common elements. The latter is a common element but is not accessible to every unit owner. Typically, a limited common element (LCE) is a patio, a deck and even a mailbox. Some parking spots are also LCEs although they could also be a separate unit or merely a space in a general common element.

Why are they called limited common elements? Because they are not within the physical unit itself.

Most legal documents in a condominium association (usually the bylaws) give guidance as to who is responsible for the maintenance and repair of units and common elements. And from my experience, the association is usually responsible for the LCEs.

This makes sense. The condo board (and indeed a majority of unit owners) wants some kind of uniformity in their community. They do not want unit owners placing gas grills, for example, on their balconies, or anything else that may become a health hazard. Recently, I represented a condominium association that had to take a unit owner to court because she had a hot tub on her balcony.

But there is a more basic reason why the association must have the authority to control these LCEs. If, for example, a unit owner has a defective balcony and decided not to repair it, it could collapse and cause damage to someone walking down the street.

So, yes, the association could be legally responsible for any damage or injury to property and person caused by a limited common element.

However, that does not mean that the owner who has exclusive access to the limited common element is always off the hook for the costs involved in repairing those areas. Clearly, it would be unfair if the owners who do not have balconies have to pay for those repairs. Accordingly, some association documents -- while reserving the repair and maintenance responsibility to the association -- have the payment assigned to those who have such LCEs.

Read your own legal documents and talk with the association's legal counsel.

Benny L. Kass is a practicing attorney in Washington, D.C., and Maryland. No legal relationship is created by this column. Questions for this column can be submitted to


What's your opinion? Leave your comments below or send a letter to the editor. To contact the writer, click the byline at the top of the story.

Copyright 2010 Benny L. Kass

Author: Benny Kas

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Piercy Group Website Launched

February 02, 2010 – The Piercy Group, the leading real estate firm serving the Kansas City Metropolitan area, proudly announced the launch of its new interactive website – This website is a significant addition to the online world of real estate; designed to be the singular resource for Leawood, Waldo, Prairie Village and Brookside Kansas City homes for sale, the site complements the many outstanding services the firm offers its clients.

The Piercy Group has been specializing in the Kansas City residential real estate market for a decade, and works with a wide range of clients in this thriving area. Led by Realtors® Wesley Piercy, Catherine Jackson, George Rodri and Krista Votruba, this award-winning firm specializes in everything from the popular condo market to luxury homes. They are also well versed in foreclosures, short sales, and HUD properties, which is especially valuable as these markets are highly challenging for buyers. The advanced skill and experience of the firm is clear from their approach to the website – this is one of the most approachable, straightforward and useful online experiences to date.

The eye-catching homepage presents a sense of organization and unity that is rarely seen in competing real estate websites. It is well laid out from top to bottom, presenting a horizontal navigation bar, a pleasant slideshow, and a welcome message. The set of quick links at the bottom of the homepage offers excellent information on the area, from Prairie Village Kansas City condos for sale to Waldo Kansas City real estate. Visitors can access the pertinent sections of the website from the navigation bar like the ‘Resources’ page that details everything from community profiles to eco-friendly resources. The ‘Buyers/Sellers’ section provides useful information about tackling the real estate process. Finally, ‘Our Team’ is an excellent introduction to the firm’s talented members.

Buyers should pay particular attention to the complimentary MLS search that will get them started on their search for Leawood, Brookside and Prairie Village KS homes for sale in just a few simple steps.

The Piercy Group has indeed achieved another step that confirms its status as the premier firm in the area. To learn more, visit today.

About The Piercy Group: Located in Leawood, Kansas, The Piercy Group is the leading real estate firm specializing in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area, including the communities of Brookside, Waldo, Prairie Village and Leawood. Associated with RE/MAX, the firm has earned multiple awards including the Executive Club Award and the Cooperative Spirit Award. The firm is also highly active in the community, working with charities such as Operation Smile, Children's Miracle Network, Susan G. Komen Foundation, amfAR, and Human Rights Campaign.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Don't forget to come see us tomorrow and have lunch at our newest listing. 220 E. Winthrope Road, Kansas City, MO. 11 am - 1 pm