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KASS: Two associations take buyers by surprise

A RESPONSE FROM A READER: I have been on the board of a recreation association for many years. There are over 300 homes. There is a separate homeowners association that covers shoveling snow, taking care of the grass and landscaping, and general maintenance.

There is also a  recreation association, for the swimming pool, meeting and computer rooms, and exercise facilities.

So there are two separate – but mandatory – associations.

All too often, when a buyer was not advised that there are two associations, we have gone back to the title company to collect. Something went wrong at the closing. Many just did not pay attention.

Since both associations are recorded among our county land records, if a buyer is not told about the two associations, we believe this is a title insurance problem and advise those buyers to talk to the attorney or title company (called an escrow company out West) about the matter. – Judy

DEAR JUDY: Thank you; very helpful. I want to thank all of my readers – all over the country – who advised me similarly that there are many community associations with two mandatory associations. Judy’s point is well-taken. When potential buyers are involved with a community with two mandatory associations, serious efforts – by real estate brokers and agents, by property managers , by title or escrow companies, and by attorneys – should be made to make sure that the buyer is not caught by surprise after taking title.

DEAR BENNY: I recently sold my house on the East Coast. I now live out West. According to my real estate agent, the settlement went well, and the title attorney sent me a check for the net sales proceeds. As least, he claims he did, because it has been two weeks and I have not received anything.

I asked the attorney for proof that it was sent and for a copy of the check. I was told that he sent the check by regular mail so he has no proof. He did, however, send me a copy – which does not appear to be a certified or bank check, just a check on his settlement escrow account.

What can I do? This is a lot of money and if I don’t get it soon, I may lose my deposit on another house I am under contract to buy. – Tim

DEAR TIM: Before you spend time retaining a lawyer in the county where your old house is located, I would send a strong letter – by certified mail, return receipt requested, as well as by email and regular mail – demanding that the attorney immediately send you the money and you will authorize him to pursue the check on his own. Make it clear that you reserve all rights to sue him for negligence, and give him five business days to resolve the matter.

Has the title attorney stopped payment on the check? If so, he could have issued you a new one – and wire-transferred it to your bank account. And even if the check was certified or a bank check, the attorney could have explained that to a bank manager and, based on the fact that the check appears lost, it is my understanding that the bank could put a stop-payment on it. Typically, if the bank gets authorization from both the payor and the payee, and gets a bond to protect the bank in the event someone does actually find and cash the “lost” check, the check can be stopped, and a replacement will be immediately reissued. There will be a fee for the bond, but that’s the least the title attorney can do so to save you from more losses.


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