The internet provides us with access to infinite information and helps us find answers in nearly every aspect of life. The second our pet starts acting weird, our car engine light goes on, or the toilet doesn’t flush properly, we immediately use Google to find the easy solution to our problem. Sometimes the very first
Since COVID has changed the way that we live and work, I have seen a handful of legal issues come up over and over. This blog series addresses some of these issues. The first article in this series talked about what happens when your adult child moves in and will not leave. Another scenario that…
For most people, it can be very scary when a lawsuit is filed against them. When someone finds out they are being sued, they may not know exactly what that means or what will happen if a judgment is entered against them, especially one directing them to pay money.
One of the first questions that might pop into their mind is whether the person or business that filed a suit against them (legally known as the “plaintiff”) can take their house if they win. This is especially concerning since, for many Pennsylvanians, their home is the most valuable and important asset that they own.
This article will explain what happens when a judgment is entered against a defendant (in other words, the person being sued) and how that may affect the defendant’s ownership interest in their home.
What does it mean when a judgment is entered against the defendant?
A judgment is an award by the court granting a plaintiff some sort of relief against a defendant. A judgment is typically a court order directing a defendant to pay a plaintiff a sum of money.
Before a plaintiff can even attempt to collect from a defendant’s assets, they must first obtain a judgment against the defendant. Without a judgment, a plaintiff does not have the authority to take any property owned by the defendant. The plaintiff must win the lawsuit first.
In general, a plaintiff can only obtain a judgment against a defendant after one of the following things occurs:
- a plaintiff wins the lawsuit after a trial;
- the parties agree to a settlement that will be entered as a final judgment; or
- the defendant fails to respond to the lawsuit and a default judgment is entered against them.
When a judgment is entered for any of the reasons listed above, it gives the plaintiff the right to collect the amount of money ordered in the judgment.
Once a judgment is entered, the parties often negotiate a process and timeline for the defendant to settle the judgment through direct payment. In some cases, the defendant can’t or won’t agree to pay the judgment and the plaintiff has to take additional steps to get their money. This process is called “executing” the judgment.
A judgment may be executed in a variety of ways including seizing assets held in bank accounts and, in some cases, levying and selling the defendant’s real property, including their home.
Not All Real Estate Is Subject to Execution
Continue Reading A Judgment Has Been Entered Against Me. Is My House Safe From Judgment Creditors?
For many years, Pennsylvania has been one of the few states that did not recognize like-kind exchanges (also known as 1031 exchanges or land swaps). Now, with the passing of Act 53 of 2022 by Governor Wolf, Pennsylvania finally has adopted 1031 exchanges. This change may lower your tax burden on real estate transactions and even encourage more investment in the state.
What is a Like-Kind Exchange?
A like-kind exchange is a strategy under the Internal Revenue Code to exchange property of the “same nature, character, or class” without paying federal income tax. The type of property usually doesn’t matter as all real estate is considered like-kind to each other so long as it’s located in the United States of America. For example, an investor may want to sell her residential rental to purchase an apartment building or an office building.Continue Reading Like-Kind Exchanges Better in Pennsylvania
Mark Twain was right – no one is making any new land. He probably had no idea there would be a shortage of developable land around the historically rural Lancaster County. Two recent programs of the Lancaster County Commercial and Industrial Real Estate Council (Lancaster C&I) highlighted this problem and showed one possible solution to the shortage of available developable land: changing how you use the land you already have.
Continue Reading Leveraging Our Land: Promote Innovation, not Acquisition Says Lancaster C&I
Every year, the Lancaster Commercial and Industrial Real Estate Council hosts High Real Estate‘s review of the local commercial and industrial real estate market. High always presents an extensive, well-researched and thought-out presentation. In addition to just showing charts and graphs, the speakers from High really understand the Central Pennsylvania market and are willing to share their thoughts on what the numbers mean.
When I go to this presentation each year, I ask myself, “What would I tell a client who was not here to watch the presentation?” This year, the ideas that stuck with me are:
1. If I could invest in any real estate, I’d want to own existing apartments or warehouses in places like Lancaster County.
One of the speakers mentioned that pre-COVID, the average daily work commute was around 30 minutes. Today, it is an hour. He explained that as more people are spending fewer days in the office and working more from home, some people do not mind making a longer commute a few days a week.Continue Reading New Trends in Lancaster’s Commercial and Industrial Real Estate
At the November meeting of the Lancaster Commercial and Industrial Real Estate Council, Rich Weeber of Regal Abstract warned of the problems that the “Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act” or FIRPTA could cause in real estate transactions. In a room full of real estate professionals, we discovered that some people had no idea what FIRPTA was, and the rest of us only worked through it when we had to. It didn’t seem like anyone felt 100% comfortable with what to do if it came up.
This post will explain what FIRPTA is, what to do if it applies in a real estate transaction, and the dangers of not paying attention to it.
What is FIRPTA?
Congress enacted FIRPTA in 1980 to manage foreign investment in U. S. real estate. (I remembered it as a reaction to Japanese investors buying American property, such as Pebble Beach Golf Course, Rockefeller Center and lots of other Manhattan properties in the 1980’s, but it turns out the law was passed before those things happened.) The goal of FIRPTA is to capture income when a “Foreign Person” sells “U. S. Real Estate.”Continue Reading What is FIRPTA, and What Do I Need to Know About It?
This post was originally published on December 3, 2020 and updated on December 6, 2021.
This time of the year, our thoughts turn to family and friends. Maybe we reflect on the past year or look forward to the next. For association boards and property managers, these happy thoughts are interrupted by questions about snow removal. When do we call snowplows? What kinds of deicers should we use? And does our association have any liability for slips and falls?Continue Reading HOA Snow Removal: Your Questions Answered
Due to increased property foreclosures, Lancaster County has developed a new Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program (RMFD). The Program gives a separate pathway that residential mortgage foreclosures need to follow. Hopefully, the RMFD will allow homeowners to work out mortgage defaults without losing their homes through foreclosure. If so, the RMFD has the added bonus of taking some foreclosure cases out of the Court’s schedule.
A homeowner with a mortgage in default is eligible for the program if the home:
- is owner-occupied
- is the owner’s primary residence
- is part of a building with four or fewer residential units
- has a remaining balance on the Mortgage of $400,000 or less
- is not part of any bankruptcy, divorce or estate proceedings
We all know someone with a story like this these days: You find the house of your dreams. It is in a good neighborhood with a good school district. You are preapproved for a mortgage, and you tell your realtor to put in an offer for the full asking price. The next day, your realtor tells you that there were five all-cash offers all over the asking price. So you lose out on the home. For some, this scenario has played out over and over again in the past 18 months.
From the outside, today’s housing market looks a lot like the one in 2006. Buyers are racing to make offers on existing homes. Developers are overpaying for vacant land, hoping to sell at a high enough price to cover their debt. People much, much more qualified than me — like Nobel Prize-winning economists and professors — are trying to figure out why housing prices are increasing so rapidly. And more importantly, they are trying to figure out what is coming next.
Is this a housing bubble? Is the market going to crash again like it did in 2008?Continue Reading Will Housing Prices Ever Come Down? Comparing the Housing Bubble of the 2000s to Today