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How to get your home robbed with just one 'post'

by Deelyn Neilson

Do you post on Facebook or tweet on Twitter?  I heard a great word of caution this morning on CNN Headline News from money guru Clark Howard in reference to "status updates" and tweets. Many folks post updates and photos as they are on vacation or out of their home. I have personally  seen the Eiffel tower and beaches in Hawaii come through photos taken on cell phones and then posted straight onto Facebook.

Here is the warning: This is a flashing neon sign advertising that your home is vacant and fair game for being robbed. We all think that we are posting on areas that only friends will see, however, some of our Facebook friends don't guard their walls and other 'friends' of friends can see your posts. There was a recent news story out of New Hampshire that indicated there was a crime ring that followed status updates and targeted folks that they knew were out of town. I have also seen other stories about folks being robbed as they were out to dinner or had posted that they were at a concert.

Update your status after you have returned from your trip. This is great advice from Clark Howard.

 

The property you are considering purchasing may be located in a development subject to the provisions of the Virginia Property Owner’s Association Act.  If it is subject to the Act then the seller is obligated to disclose that fact you in the contract and to provide you with what is known as an Association Disclosure Packet, which contains a significant amount of information and documents.  Most importantly, under this law you have the unilateral right to terminate the contract but termination must be done correctly and timely.

What is the Property Owner’s Association Act?  The Virginia Property Owners Association Act (“the Act”) is a series of laws that regulate associations that manage real estate developments that have certain characteristics, notably a subdivision declaration, restrictive covenants, dues, assessments, etc.  The Act also requires a seller and the association to make certain disclosures to buyers. 

What is a property owner’s association (POA)?  Real estate developments often have common areas to own and maintain, architectural review boards, dues, assessments, etc.  The tasks and duties associated with these subdivision characteristics are managed by an association of the owners.  The association, often incorporated, may be self-managed or professionally managed.

What is an association disclosure packet?  The Act obligates a seller to obtain and provide to prospective purchasers a packet of information, the contents of which are specified by law, in order for a buyer to evaluate the association and the obligations, financial and otherwise, incidental to owning property subject to the association.

  What should the disclosure packet contain?  The Act specifies the contents of the packet.  For example, the name of the association, pending assessments or expenditures of funds, a statement of fees including assessments, a current reserve, study report, current budget, notice as to any pending law suits against the association, insurance coverage information, a statement whether the lot and house are in violation of association rules, copy of the declaration, bylaws, and rules and regulations, minutes from any board of directors or association meetings for six months preceding, etc.  Please see the statute for a complete list.

What are a seller’s obligations under the Act?  The seller is obligated to disclose whether the property is subject to the Act, and if so, to obtain the association disclosure packet, at the seller’s expense, and to provide it to you, the buyer. 

Can I cancel the contract if I do not approve?  Yes!  The Act permits a purchaser to cancel within three days of the date of receipt of the disclosure packet.  Bear in mind that unless the contract specifies to the contrary, the receipt of the packet by your agent or your agent’s firm may trigger the three-day window.

When can I cancel?  You may terminate the contract any time prior to settlement if you have not been notified that the association disclosure packet will not be available and the association disclosure packet is not delivered to you.  In addition, you may cancel within three days after receiving the association disclosure packet if the association disclosure packet or notice that the association disclosure packet will not be available is hand delivered or delivered by electronic means and a receipt obtained; or within six days after the postmark date if the association disclosure packet or notice that the association disclosure packet will not be available is sent to you by United States mail.

How do I can cancel?  You should have your real estate agent or your attorney assist you with cancellation, but briefly you need to provide written notice of the termination and send it to the seller in the statutorily prescribed manner (a copy of the statute is provided).

About Brian & Lytle Law

Affiliated with Liz Moore & Associates since its inception, Brian is a practicing Virginia lawyer with 25 years experience.  He is the owner of Lytle Law, P.C.,a general practice law firm (www.lytlelaw.com), and Lytle Title & Escrow, LLC, a Virginia licensed settlement agent (http://www.lytletitle.com/).  Brian's law practice includes divorce, personal injury, civil litigation and criminal law, but emphasizes real estate closings, real estate related litigation, and the representation of real estate brokers, agents and including Code of Ethics, procuring cause, malpractice, VREB and Fair Housing disciplinary actions, and commission collection cases in local courts.  He is admitted to practice before all Virginia state courts, including the Virginia Supreme Court, before the United States District Court, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, and the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. 

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