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Arizona law provides penalties in the form of substantial statutory damages plus awards of costs and legal fees for recording false documents under A.R.S. §33-420. Pertinent provisions of this statute are as follows:

  1. A person purporting to claim an interest in, or a lien or encumbrance against, real property, who causes a document asserting such claim to be recorded in the office of the county recorder, knowing or having reason to know that the document is forged, groundless, contains a material misstatement or false claim or is otherwise invalid is liable to the owner or beneficial title holder of the real property for the sum of not less than five thousand dollars, or for treble the actual damages caused by the recording, whichever is greater, and reasonable attorney fees and costs of the action.
  2. A person who is named in a document which purports to create an interest in, or a lien or encumbrance against, real property and who knows that the document is forged, groundless, contains a material misstatement or false claim or is otherwise invalid shall be liable to the owner or title holder for the sum of not less than one thousand dollars, or for treble actual damages, whichever is greater, and reasonable attorney fees and costs as provided in this section, if he willfully refuses to release or correct such document of record within twenty days from the date of a written request from the owner or beneficial title holder of the real property.
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Like everything else you own, your business is an asset. When contemplating divorce, you will be required to equitably divide your community interests in any assets acquired during your marriage. This includes your business.

However, equitable division does not necessitate that every single item be split in half. Rather, Arizona follows the aggregate theory of community property meaning that each of you will receive a share of the assets which will be equal in value, but not equal in kind.

To determine what will happen to your business you need to consider several things. First, did you make any agreements or plans for this eventuality? Perhaps you and your spouse entered into a pre- or post-nuptial agreement which specifies what happens to the business. Or, perhaps the business itself has agreements in place detailing what occurs when one or more owners divorce. These documents should be reviewed closely.

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Reverse mortgages can be a great financial tool for retirees or others living on a fixed income. A reverse mortgage can be used to pay off an existing home loan, gain freedom from a house payment and/or provide a retirement income source. The homeowner must still pay real estate taxes and homeowner’s insurance but otherwise no payments are due on a reverse mortgage until the borrower spouses both die. Then the loan comes all due and must be paid in full by refinancing, the use of other estate assets or by a sale of the home.

But what happens when the reverse mortgage is taken out by only one spouse?   If the surviving spouse is not also a borrower, he or she may need to sell or refinance the house when the borrower spouse dies. Refinancing is not usually an option for a surviving spouse so the family home would need to be sold at, perhaps, the worst possible time.   At least that was the situation until the advent of an FHA program called Mortgagee Optional Election (MOE).

The MOE program can enable a surviving spouse who was not a reverse mortgage borrower to remain in the family home after the borrowing spouse dies.   But inclusion in this program is not automatic. The surviving spouse needs to contact the mortgage servicer to request an MOE assignment. Certain conditions also apply:

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Most people who buy homes will remember one thing about the experience – the paperwork. Seriously, you get major hand cramps just signing all those title and loan documents. Trying to understand all those documents? Even worse.

Well, here comes TRID to the rescue – sort of. TRID stands for TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosures. These new disclosure documents are, for the most part, replacing the old disclosures. We say “for the most part” because TRID does not apply to home equity loans, reverse mortgages, and mortgages for mobile homes or other dwellings that are not actually attached to real property. TRID will apply to most other real estate loans, including Fanny Mae, Freddie Mac, VA, FHA, USDA and other government-backed and conventional loans. TRID will even apply to private money loans and some owner-financed transactions.

The new TRID Loan Estimate form replaces the initial Truth in Lending Disclosure & Good Faith Estimate. The new TRID Closing Disclosure form replaces the final Truth in Lending disclosure & HUD-1 Settlement Statement. These forms contain much of the same information as the old ones but lays it out differently so it is easier to digest.

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As a result of the national real estate crisis many Phoenix and Arizona homes remain underwater. The recovery has helped, but not enough to lift all homeowners into positive equity territory.

It has come to our attention in speaking with clients that many times people have ceased payments on a second deed of trust. Usually this was done as a matter of necessity to reduce living costs.   A loan secured by a first deed of trust must be paid or the home will be foreclosed upon.   However, a holder of a second deed of trust will seldom foreclose on an underwater property. So payments on the second loan can be stopped and often were stopped to obtain short term relief.

It is now eight years since the housing crash and we are finding individuals who have deeds of trust recorded against their homes where no payment has been made for years. In many cases, their homes are still underwater. If the old deed of trust could be eliminated, it could make the difference between having an underwater home or a home with substantial equity.

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Starting a business is an exciting time. But statistics show that over half of new businesses in the Phoenix, Arizona area fail within a few years. Business writers have commented as to why this happens.   Here are some of the most common reasons why new businesses fail:

  1. Insufficient capital. A new business cannot be expected to turn a profit for at least one year so the owners must have sufficient capital reserves to pay business expenses and also their own living expenses for the first year.
  2. Lack of management experience.
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Certainly there are pros and cons to having an agent represent you when buying or selling your home. But to answer the direct question of whether an agent is needed is simple. In Arizona you do not need a real estate agent to buy or sell your home. While an agent is not necessary, there may be some practical reasons why someone would want to hire one.

Agents can often assist with preparing contracts and counteroffers that most people may not be aware of. They may be able to assist with appropriate time frames for responses and discuss what reasonable requests can be made or should be expected in the transaction. Agents often times have connections to other professionals who can assist in the process. These connections might include mortgage lenders, contractors or home inspectors to name a few. It is certainly possible to find these individuals on line, but sometimes helpful to get a personal referral.

While the above reasons are important, the most helpful thing an agent will do is to save you time. A good agent will know what you are looking for ahead of time and they will be able to narrow down the houses available to find a group of houses that fits your needs. This is certainly possible to do on your own, but with an already busy schedule many buyers simply don’t have the time. Of course, this is one of the main reasons agents get paid. To be sure it is a valuable service and your agent will be paid by taking a commission out of the sales price.

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A Lis Pendens is authorized by A.R.S. §12-1191 to be recorded when a lawsuit is filed that affects title to real property. The purpose is to give notice to prospective buyers and lenders that a title issue may exist.

It has come to our attention that some Phoenix Homeowner’s Associations have aggressively used a Lis Pendens when filing lawsuits against homeowners. In our opinion, this was done for its coercive effect. The recording of a Lis Pendens clouds a homeowner’s title and the home cannot be sold or refinanced until this cloud on title is removed.

Homeowner’s Associations that choose to use this tactic do so at their own risk. There is a fine line between lawsuits that will support the use of a Lis Pendens and those that will not. If a HOA errs, it can be subject to a lawsuit to collect $5,000.00 in statutory damages plus costs and legal fees pursuant to A.R.S. §33-420, the Arizona Statute dealing with wrongful recordings.

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Bankruptcies and Foreclosures were common just a few years ago and are still occurring. The vast majority of our Clients have never experienced these problems or procedures before, but often there simply are no other sensible options.

Understandably, Clients are concerned as to how these procedures will affect them. They ask how much their credit will be damaged, how long will the damage last and when can they consider buying a home again.   The answers to these questions will be different for each person. Some recover quickly—usually those with good jobs—and others continue to have financial difficulty. However, some answers are available.

Included below is information about how long potential buyers must usually wait before applying for mortgage financing. As it turns out, the wait can be different depending upon the type of loan being applied for.

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Buying a home is a major undertaking, yet I continue to be amazed by how casually this process is treated by many. We often meet these buyers after their transaction closes and something has gone wrong. What might have been handled before close of escrow has now become a major and potentially expensive problem.   The excitement of a new home purchase has been destroyed and turned into a stressful situation. Here are some steps that we recommend a buyer consider to make this process as trouble free as possible.

  1. Hire an experienced realtor. It seems that everyone has a friend, relative or neighbor who holds a real estate license. Don’t hire them. Hire an independent and experienced professional realtor. Sign a buyer broker agreement so you know that your realtor represents only you and is loyal only to you. Avoid a dual agency situation where the agent represents both buyer and seller. A dual agency is a common arrangement and can work fine so long as no problems arise. But if a problem develops it is good to know that you can rely upon an agent whose loyalty is to you alone.
  2. Shop for a loan before shopping for a home. Meet with several lenders. Assemble a package of information for your lenders and make multiple copies. Become pre-qualified and learn how large a loan you can obtain. Also determine how large a loan you are comfortable with. Sometimes the two are not the same.