A New Twist on Identity Theft and Fraud: How can Realtors, Lenders, Title Companies and Law Firms Protect Your Clients and Yourselves?

June 30, 2014 on 9:40 am | In General Interest, Real Estate Litigation, Real Estate Strategies, State & Federal Litigation, Susan B. Tarley | No Comments

A case out of Virginia Beach underscores the deviousness of those who engage in identity theft. As reported in Virginia Lawyers Weekly, Guy Gugliotta owned two lots in Virginia Beach. A local realty company maintained contact with Gugliotta via mail in case he was interested in selling the lots. In 2012 someone purporting to be Gugliotta notified the tax assessors office to change the mailing address for tax bills. Then they notified the realty company that they had decided to sell the lots. The lots were listed for sale and in August, a purchaser made an offer.

The seller documents were handled via mail with the fraudulent seller executing documents in Florida and sending them to the closing agent. Deeds to transfer property require that the seller’s signature be notarized so surely this was the end of the road for the fraudster.

But no, not only did the thief take the identity of the owner; he also took the identity of a notary public in Florida. The notary public declared under oath that it was not his signature and that he had never notarized the documents.

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Caveat Emptor and a Buyer’s Duty to Investigate Real Estate Purchase

June 23, 2014 on 11:29 am | In Construction litigation, General Interest, Real Estate Litigation, State & Federal Litigation | No Comments

Originally posted 2012-06-21 08:00:20. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

We blogged about a Charlottesville Circuit Court case in which the court analyzed the duty to disclose for a seller of residential real estate.  We wrote another post regarding that case discussing an exception to the rule of caveat emptor. Specifically, if the seller attempted to “divert” the purchaser’s attention away from problem areas, a court could find fraud and rescind the contract.

However, in Virginia, if a prospective home purchaser discovers information alerting him to a potential problem, that person is charged with knowledge he would have found had he diligently pursued the inquiry. That rule was highlighted in an unpublished opinion released by the Virginia Supreme Court. This blog post reviews the facts of that case and the lessons to learn for real estate sellers and buyers.

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Real Estate Listing Agreements for the sale of property: Are they enforceable even if not in writing?

June 23, 2014 on 11:29 am | In General Interest, Real Estate Litigation, Real Estate Strategies, State & Federal Litigation | No Comments

Originally posted 2010-12-28 10:52:57. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Generally speaking a party can enforce an oral agreement. However, courts will not enforce certain contracts unless they are in writing. For example, under Virginia Code § 11-2, commonly known as the Statute of Frauds, an agreement or contract for services to be performed in the sale of real estate by a real estate broker or real estate sales person is not enforceable “[u]nless a promise, contract, agreement, representation, assurance, or ratification, or some memorandum or note thereof, is in writing and signed by the party to be charged or his agent . . . .”

Most real estate agents and brokers understand the importance of having written listing agreements with their sellers. However, a recent decision of the Supreme Court of Virginia points out that even in the absence of a written listing agreement, an oral listing contract may be enforceable if there is sufficient documentation to remove it from the bar to enforcement of the Statute of Frauds. The Virginia Supreme Court, in the case of C. Porter Vaughan, Inc., Realtors v. Most Reverend Francis X. DiLorenzo, Bishop of The Catholic Diocese of Richmond, 279 Va. 449, 689 S.E.2d 656 (2010), better defined what is meant by “sufficient documentation.”

House For Sale

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Using your business’ computer to email your attorney may be a bad idea

June 23, 2014 on 11:29 am | In Business Planning, Common Interest Community, General Interest, HOA litigation, John Tarley, Real Estate Litigation, State & Federal Litigation | No Comments

Originally posted 2011-01-20 08:30:43. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Email

Well, we have written about protecting the attorney-client privilege and about safe emailing tips when emailing your attorney. Although we thought we had it pretty well covered, a recent decision from a California appellate has given us something more to think about.
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Mediation and Arbitration – There is a big difference

June 23, 2014 on 11:29 am | In Business Planning, General Interest, HOA litigation, John Tarley, Real Estate Litigation, Real Estate Strategies, State & Federal Litigation | No Comments

Originally posted 2011-02-28 11:57:21. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

In conversations with clients, it seems that people misuse the terms “mediation” and “arbitration” more than most other legal terms. Although I do not have any empirical data, my educated guess is that many businesses and construction contractors (who did not depend upon advice given by an experienced business attorney) insert “arbitration” clauses into their contracts thinking that they mean “mediation.” Some transactions involving the sale of real estate include an arbitration clause. Countless times, clients involved in a potential lawsuit point to the “arbitration” clause, and are disheartened when I explain to them the arbitration process. Many thought they were avoiding the potential high costs of litigation. These terms are NOT interchangeable and in this blog post I will explain the basic differences between them.

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Rental Restrictions in HOAs permitted according to the Virginia Attorney General

June 23, 2014 on 11:28 am | In Common Interest Community, General Interest, HOA, HOA litigation, Real Estate Litigation, Real Estate Strategies, Susan B. Tarley, Unit Owners Association | No Comments

Originally posted 2011-03-22 09:00:43. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

In many HOAs, an issue arises when a homeowner purchases real estate as an investment property intending to lease the home or condo unit. In those situations, the homeowner becomes a “landlord” rather than a resident owner and the situation causes concerns for many homeowner and condominium owner associations. Many association documents contain restrictions on leasing property. In response to an inquiry, the Attorney General for Virginia has issued an official advisory opinion concerning the imposition of rental restrictions in common interest communities concluding that if the restriction is adopted correctly and for a legitimate purpose, the rental restriction is valid.

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Benefits of HOAs Part 2: How is Covenant Enforcement Good for Owners?

June 23, 2014 on 11:28 am | In Common Interest Community, HOA, HOA litigation, Jason Howell, John Tarley, Real Estate Litigation, Susan B. Tarley, Unit Owners Association | No Comments

Originally posted 2011-08-09 11:59:33. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The enforcement of covenants, conditions, and restrictions (“CC&R’s”) is among the most criticized of the duties performed by the Board of Directors of community associations, but is also the most important responsibility. CC&R’s govern many activities in a community including house designs, parking regulations, maintenance and repair of the common areas, and collection of assessments. Sensational “Gotcha” type news stories highlight enforcement practices of some associations, which contribute to a false perception that associations in general lack common sense. However, studies repeatedly show that the overwhelming majority of people  living in neighborhoods governed by HOAs believe that the rules in their communities benefit them.

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Benefits of HOAs Part 4: What do homeowners really think about their associations?

June 23, 2014 on 11:28 am | In Common Interest Community, HOA, HOA litigation, Jason Howell, Real Estate Litigation, Susan B. Tarley, Unit Owners Association | No Comments

Originally posted 2011-09-14 08:45:45. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

We’ve mentioned already the abundance of news articles criticizing community associations. If these news stories are to be believed, then associations are unpopular indeed. But is it true that residents living in community associations are unhappy with their association? Research by the Community Associations Institute suggests that it is not. In fact, the research suggests that more people than ever are choosing to live in communities with associations, and the overwhelming majority of those people are happy with their association.

Statistics compiled by the Community Associations Institute show that the number of associations continues to grow. In 1970, just ten thousand communities, with a combined 2.1 million residents, were governed by associations. Today there are over 309,000 communities governed by associations. More than 62 million Americans live in associations. 1.75 million volunteers serve on community association boards, and a full 26 percent of the eligible U.S. population volunteers for an association at some point during a year, according to one estimate. That kind of service simply would not happen if associations were as widely disliked as has been portrayed.

Williamsburg Virginia Business and HOA Lawyers

Common Interest Communities

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Emails from work computer can waive rights to privileged communications

June 23, 2014 on 11:28 am | In Business Planning, Construction litigation, General Interest, HOA litigation, John Tarley, Real Estate Litigation | No Comments

Originally posted 2011-04-13 17:44:17. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

We have written on the issues that arise when employees use their work computer for personal business. In that blog article, we referred to a California case in which an appellate court ruled that an employee’s emails to her attorney were not protected by the attorney-client privilege because the company had a written policy that informed employees that computers were not to be used for personal matters, that emails could be monitored to ensure that employees complied with the policy, and that employees should not expect any privacy in the use of their computers.

In local news, former Delegate Phil Hamilton raised a “marital privilege” objection to the use at trial of emails he sent to his wife. Certain communications to and from a spouse can be protected from disclosure. There were complicating factors to this case’s analysis.

 

Email

 

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Residential construction and mechanic’s liens; how you can protect your mechanic’s lien rights

June 23, 2014 on 11:28 am | In Construction litigation, John Tarley, Real Estate Litigation, State & Federal Litigation | No Comments

Originally posted 2011-09-06 13:00:30. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Williamsburg Virginia Business Lawyers

Courtroom

 

With the downturn of the housing industry, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of construction disputes, especially in residential construction. Owners are battling with the contractors, and subcontractors are trying to get paid by somebody. These cases lead inevitably to litigation.

The property owners and the building contractor should have a written contract. However, the subcontractors sometimes find themselves in a difficult situation, unpaid by an insolvent building contractor. It is usually then that we will receive a call from a subcontractor asking about their mechanic’s lien rights. Unfortunately, it may be too late for that subcontractor to preserve their mechanic’s lien rights because they failed to provide proper notice at the outset of the work performance. This blog post provides a brief overview of the notice requirements for subcontractors to preserve mechanic’s lien rights. Continue reading “Residential construction and mechanic’s liens; how you can protect your mechanic’s lien rights”

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