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Georgetown Real Estate Law Blog

Your options for fighting zoning changes

Cities and towns can change pretty drastically over time. Where there were once homes there might be a new shopping center or public park. While these can sometimes be welcome changes, they often pose a problem for property owners in Delaware. This is because these and other changes are not generally not possible without zoning changes.

When a zoning change affects a property owner's land, he or she has several options for addressing the problem. The first is to get an exception to the new zoning regulations, either through nonconforming use or a variance. An owner can continue to use his or her property in a manner inconsistent with zoning if he or she secures nonconforming use. It is even possible to get a nonconforming use if a structure is in construction, so long as the owner has already expended significant time and money on the project.

Real estate transactions: Single family homes as investments

The real estate market in many areas has taken a beating in the last couple months. Some Delaware investors might have realized that people who are sequestered in condos and apartments get tired of looking at four walls. With that in mind, single-family purchases as investments are becoming among the most popular real estate transactions. More people are appreciating having a yard and a garden to putter around in when staying at home, and more renters are looking at leasing single-family homes.

The unemployment rate around the country hit 15% in May, and the demand for rentals is increasing. Renters are realizing how nice it is to have a yard with neighbors who aren't in their faces, and so many are searching for homes, rather than apartments, to rent. Millennials are aging, with the eldest being in their 40s, and they are transitioning from singles living the urban lifestyle to marrying, having families and looking to rent single-family homes in the burbs. 

When might earnest money not be refundable?

Ready to buy a home in Delaware? Those who are need to be prepared to put down earnest money to get the house taken off the market in order for it to be appraised and inspected before the sale goes through. Just be careful when agreeing to pay earnest money, as it may not be refundable if one decides not to buy the property.

Earnest money is, in short, a deposit on a home. It is good faith money used to show a seller that one is serious about purchasing the property. Ultimately, it will be put toward the buyer's down payment and/or closing costs.

Disclosures matter when selling residential real estate

Selling a home can be a very stressful experience. When needing or wanting to sell a home as quickly as possible, one might be tempted to leave potential buyers in the dark about any problems with the property. In Delaware, disclosures matter when selling residential real estate. Those who fail to be honest could end up hurting the sale or finding themselves in some legal trouble after the deal goes through.

Documenting problems on a disclosure form is not a difficult thing to do. Some home sellers are just unaware of what issues they are required to share with potential buyers. Most disclosures have to do with housing defects such as foundation issues, HVAC problems and plumbing issues. Potential health hazards must also be disclosed, such as mold problems -- which can also create structural issues, lead in the home or known radon leaks. There is more, but in short, sellers are to report any known property defects -- the keyword here being known.

Avoid these mistakes when shopping for residential real estate

Buying a home for the first time is an exciting experience. Of course, it can also be difficult to navigate the world of residential real estate, which is why many people choose to work with real estate agents. However, it is still important that potential homebuyers in Delaware avoid certain mistakes.

One mistake that some prospective homebuyers make is not fully understanding their financial situations. Individuals will need to have good credit in order to obtain the loan necessary to purchase a home, and they will also need funds saved up to make the downpayment. Though some individuals may qualify for zero percent down through certain loans, it may not be wise to count on obtaining that specific outcome as many people do not qualify.

Avoid potential disputes by asking the landlord some questions

Most people looking to rent here in Delaware know to ask about rental payments, security deposits, pet policies and similar questions. However, there are other questions that a potential tenant may want to ask the landlord before committing to signing a lease. Failing to do so could result in future disputes that could end up leading to disputes that could cost time, frustration and money for a tenant.

For instance, many properties have rules regarding guests. A property may allow guests for up to a month, but thereafter, the person staying would need to go through a background check and possibly be added to the lease. Other properties may only allow overnight guests or could allow guests to stay indefinitely.

Inspections important when buying residential real estate

Buying a home is an exciting step for a Delaware family. Whether it's a first-time residential real estate purchase or a subsequent one, it is critical for a buyer to be cautious throughout this process. Before signing the final purchase agreement, a home inspection can help a buyer know exactly what to expect after moving in or reveal problems that could lead to financial loss down the road. 

There can be problems with a home that are not easily visible. In fact, hidden problems can cause significant complications after the sale is final, leaving the new owner with unexpected issues, expensive repairs and other issues. An inspection by a trained professional can help a homeowner avoid these issues and protect his or her financial interests. 

COVID-19 Plea by Appointment

A felony case in Delaware generally takes approximately six months from the date of arrest to resolution of the matter. Today we consider the topic of a plea by appointment involving an incarcerated defendant under the newly enacted Superior Court policies and procedures during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Include this contingency in a residential real estate contract

Buying a home here in Delaware should be an exciting and joyous experience. It can be, but there are still numerous items to address before the deal can close. One of them is making sure the home does not have any significant defects that could end up costing buyers in the future. For this reason, they ought to seriously consider a home inspection. However, more than that, they should consider a home inspection contingency in their residential real estate contracts.

Once a buyer and seller enter into a contract, the parties are bound by it, which is why the buyer may include certain contingencies that allow the buyer to renegotiate or walk away from the deal if something goes wrong. Popular ones include financing, title searches and home inspections. A good home inspection can reveal issues with the electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems in a home. They can also reveal the need for repairs in the foundation, the roof or the exterior walls.

Efforts to resolve landlord/tenant matters

Being a landlord is more complicated than buying a building and collecting rent. It is important for property owners to know and understand how Delaware laws apply to them, especially when faced with landlord/tenant matters. Disagreements with renters are common and can escalate quickly. A landlord who knows the options for resolving those disputes may reach a faster, more satisfying outcome.

A tenant who disagrees with a policy or action may react with high emotion, even rage. When a landlord matches that emotion, the issue is not likely to reach a resolution. Difficult as it may be, the best quality a landlord can develop may be to remain calm and reasonable under pressure. Making an effort to talk through the problem face to face with the tenant may allow the parties to find a mutually beneficial answer. Even if a landlord is justified in being angry with a tenant, keeping those reactions in check may give a property owner an advantage over a ranting tenant.