Author Archives: Leslie Peters

Recent South Carolina Ruling Deems HOA Foreclosure to “Shock the Conscience”

Unbeknownst to many homeowners—even those who live within the purview of a homeowner’s association, or “HOA”—a South Carolina homeowner’s association has the legal right to foreclose on its members’ properties in order to collect unpaid fees and assessments.

An HOA’s right to foreclose on an individual’s home has recently been limited, however. In a December 2019 ruling from the South Carolina Supreme Court, an HOA foreclosure in Richland County was deemed to be unconscionable, leading the state’s Supreme Court to reverse the decision and remand the case to the Master-in-Equity to be argued and decided again. The Boger Law Firm is honored to have represented the homeowners’ of this action alongside South Carolina attorney Kathleen Barnes.

South Carolina HOA Lien Leads to Foreclosure

Over two decades ago, Devery and Tina Hale purchased their home in Irmo, South Carolina. The couple had been making timely mortgage payments ever since their purchase, and had accrued over $60,000 equity in the property as a result.

In 2011, the couple fell behind on their homeowner’s association dues, accruing a bill of $250. As a result, the HOA filed a lien on the Hales’ property. The Hales’ troubles did not end there; the homeowner’s association subsequently filed an action for foreclosure, seeking the sale of the Hales’ property to satisfy the outstanding HOA balance of $566.41. The Hales inadvertently failed to respond to the Complaint, and counsel for the HOA subsequently filed an affidavit of default. Following this action, the Hales received no further notice with regard to the lawsuit. While the lawsuit was pending, the HOA sent the Hales a bill for $250.00 for the past-due regime fees. The Hales paid this bill promptly, and even received a notice from the law firm representing the HOA that the lien had been satisfied. What the Hales did not know, however, was that although the HOA satisfied the lien, it did not withdraw the lawsuit.

Shortly after the satisfaction of the judgment, the Richland County Master-in-Equity entered a Judgment of Foreclosure and Sale against the Hales, entitling the HOA to a little under $3,000 in damages–$2,000 of which was attributed to attorney’s fees for the law firm representing the HOA. The Hales were never served with the Master-in-Equity’s order, and were thus unaware that their home was to be sold at public auction.

A Couple’s Battle to Save their Home from HOA Foreclosure

Devery and Tina Hale’s home of twenty-one years—a home valued at $128,000—was purchased at public auction by Regime Solutions, LLC in 2014 for just $3,036.

Having received no notice of the Master-in-Equity’s order allowing the property to be sold, the news of losing their home came as a shock to the Hales. According to an affidavit submitted by Tina Hale, “[i]n November, we received a letter from the law firm of [the HOA] telling us that the Lien had been Satisfied . . . . I thought that everything was OK after that. The next thing I know, someone is knocking on my door telling me that they bought my home and that me and my family were being evicted.”

Once the Hales were aware that their home had been purchased from the foreclosure sale, the family offered Regime Solutions $9,000 to re-purchase their home. In return, Regime Solutions offered to sell the Hales’ property back to them for the sum of $35,000. The Hales filed a motion to vacate the sale shortly after, arguing that Regime Solutions’ winning bid was grossly inadequate in comparison to the value of the home.

South Carolina Supreme Court Overturns Sale of Hales’ Home

In December of 2019, the South Carolina Supreme Court issued an opinion reversing the decision of the Master-in-Equity and remanding the case to be re-heard. In its opinion, the Supreme Court stated that Regime Solutions purchased the Hales’ property for less than 5% of the property’s value, and went on to say that “Regime’s winning bid was so grossly inadequate as to shock the conscience of the court” and that Regime Solutions “bought [the property] for a pittance.”

The Court further stated that it was “especially troubled by Regime’s participation in a foreclosure proceeding to accommodate its business model of leveraging a nominal debt to secure an exorbitant return from homeowners who fear the process of eviction,” and referenced Regime Solutions’ $35,000 counter-offer to the Hales “as evidence of Regime’s manipulation of a foreclosure proceeding to engage in strong-arm tactics.

In his concurring opinion, South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Beatty stated that “[t]o allow the hard-earned equity to be confiscated by a bidder’s minimal investment is unconscionable.”

To read the full opinion from the South Carolina Supreme Court, click here.

Facing an HOA Foreclosure? Call Today

The Boger Law Firm is honored to have been able to assist the Hales in saving their home from HOA foreclosure. If you are a South Carolina homeowner and find yourself in the middle of an HOA foreclosure, the team of attorneys at the Boger Law Firm are standing by to help you with your case. To speak with a member of our legal team about HOA foreclosures today, fill out an online contact form or call (803) 252-2880 today.


South Carolina Cities Rank in Top Housing Markets for 2020

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Category : Real Estate , Real Estate

The state of South Carolina has a lot to offer homebuyers, according to a new survey compiled by realtor.com. Two South Carolina cities—Columbia and Charleston—have secured a seat in the report, which lists the top 10 housing markets for 2020. Whether you are a native South Carolinian looking for a change of pace or an out-of-state resident planning to move to the Palmetto State, be sure to keep these two cities in mind when looking to purchase your new home.

Why South Carolina?

According to realtor.com, homeowners are tending to move away from expensive coastal regions in favor of more reasonably-priced locations. According to Danielle Hale, chief economist for realtor.com, “[t]he cities that we expect to do best in 2020 are not necessarily big, fancy, coastal cities, but secondary markets where the job market is still pretty good but housing is affordable.”

Columbia

The capitol of the Palmetto State ranked #5 in the top 10 real estate housing markets of 2020, thanks in part to large-scale operations which draw a great number of people to the city, such as the University of South Carolina, the Fort Jackson Army Base, and the Amazon Fulfillment Center.

The city of Columbia is also home to a number of attractions to keep residents and visitors occupied, including the Riverbanks Zoo and the South Carolina State Museum. Downtown Columbia has also experienced a revitalization over the past few decades, and is now home to a multitude of high-end restaurants and activities such as luxury bowling, axe-throwing, and TopGolf.

If you are looking into moving to Columbia, you can expect a median home price of around $175,000. Those who are looking for more cost-effective options can search for homes in the Rosewood neighborhood, which is just a few minutes from the University of South Carolina.

Charleston

Charleston, South Carolina is a tourist favorite, with the city consistently taking spots on surveys of the best cities in the nation. The city has become a popular area for retiring baby boomers, and its mild climate has attracted a large number of northerners who seek to escape unbearably cold weather. The city is also home to the Charleston Air Force Base, Boeing, and Volvo, all of which draw a large number of people to the area.

Although historic homes on the Charleston peninsula are quite pricey, the surrounding suburbs are more reasonable, with the average home costing around $270,000. Mount Pleasant, a suburb just outside Charleston, has a multitude of single-family homes that are perfect for new homebuyers.

Looking to Purchase a Home in South Carolina? We Can Help

If you are looking to purchase a home in the state of South Carolina, the real estate team at the Boger Law Firm is standing by to answer any questions that you may have about the closing process. From pre-contract to post-closing, the Boger Law Firm is dedicated to providing quality representation throughout every step of your real estate closing. To ask a question to a member of our real estate team or to schedule the closing of your home, fill out an online contact form or call (803) 252-2880 today.


New Year Brings Lower Mortgage Rates

The first week of the new year has brought a treat to those looking to purchase a home—lower mortgage interest rates. Mortgage rates have fallen to their lowest point in the past three months, with the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage being 3.69%.

This decline in interest rates goes hand-in-hand with homebuyers’ current level of confidence in purchasing a home. According to the Home Purchase Sentiment Index—a monthly survey created by Fannie Mae—buyers are experiencing increased confidence in purchasing a home, with the primary factor being the favorable interest rates that are currently being offered. Fannie Mae uses this survey to predict the future of the housing market, and has predicted that the United States will benefit from a healthy housing market in 2020.

Looking to Purchase a Home? We’re Here to Help

If you are in the market for a home in South Carolina, the Boger Law Firm is standing by to assist you with any and all of your real estate needs. Whether you are looking to move into a new home or interested in purchasing an investment property, our real estate team is committed to providing quality representation every step of the way. To speak to a member of our real estate team about your purchase or to schedule your real estate closing, fill out an online contact form or call (803) 252-2880 today.


What to Do Before the Closing of Your First Home

Purchasing your first home is an experience that can be as stressful as it is exciting. When you have never purchased property before, the process can quickly become overwhelming. The following tips can make your home purchase move along more smoothly and eliminate some of the stress that accompanies the purchase of your first home.

Get a Home Inspection.

We’ve all been told not to judge a book by its cover. The same maxim applies in the world of real estate—don’t judge a house by its appearance. It’s critical to get a home inspection for the property you plan to purchase to protect you from unknown issues with the property. A home inspector’s job is to identify any structural, electrical, or plumbing issues in your home that may not be apparent to the untrained eye. Spending a few hundred dollars on a home inspection can save you from the nightmare of unknowingly purchasing a home with costly issues such as water damage or foundation issues.

Know if You’re Dealing with an HOA.

If your new home is located in a neighborhood which is governed by a homeowner’s association (HOA), be sure to ask your real estate agent to obtain a copy of the Bylaws, Covenants and Restrictions for the neighborhood. These documents will provide you with the rules and regulations which direct what you can and cannot do on your property. Aspects of your property which an HOA can restrict or govern include, but are not limited to:

  • Parking regulations
  • Color of curtains
  • Displaying flags or other garden ornaments
  • How long you can keep your garage door open
  • Where your trash receptacles must be stored; and
  • Types of vegetation that you are allowed to plant.

Shop for Homeowner’s Insurance.

Before your closing can occur, your lender will require proof that you have a homeowner’s insurance policy in place for your new home. It’s best to start comparing insurance policies early in the closing process. Be sure to ask about discounts if you plan to purchase a homeowner’s insurance policy through the company who provides your car insurance—oftentimes, insurance carriers provide package deals if you “bundle” your home and auto insurance.

Decide on Your Closing Attorney.

In South Carolina, all real estate purchases are required to be conducted by a licensed attorney. If you are a new homebuyer—especially if you are moving from out of state—you may not be aware of this requirement, as this is not a requirement in most states. Be sure to contact an experienced real estate attorney as soon as possible after your contract has been executed so that the attorney can begin preparing for your closing.

Budget for Unanticipated Closing Costs.

For those who have never purchased a home, the true upfront costs of such a purchase can be shocking—the costs extend beyond your down payment. Be sure to budget for common closing costs such as:

  • Origination and underwriting fees
  • Appraisal fees
  • Attorney’s fees
  • Title search and title insurance
  • Homeowner’s insurance premiums
  • Homeowner’s association dues
  • Property taxes
  • Mortgage insurance upfront premiums

Ask What Forms of Identification are Required.

All law firms will ask for a form of identification, such as a driver’s license, when you arrive for your closing. Some lenders, however, require additional identification such as a birth certificate, W-2, or social security card. Be sure to check with your lender or your attorney about the required forms of identification—the last thing you want to do on the day of your closing is tear apart packed boxes to find your social security card.

Change Your Mailing Address.

Your post office will need several weeks’ notice to set up mail forwarding to your new address, so make sure that you set this up with the post office sooner rather than later. In addition, be sure to go online and change your address for all bills as well, such as credit cards, insurance, and medical providers.

Are You a New Homebuyer with Questions? We’re Here to Help

If you are purchasing your first home, we know that you probably have a lot of questions. No matter your questions, the Boger Law Firm has answers. Our real estate team is dedicated to taking the time necessary to explain to first-time homebuyers the steps toward purchasing their biggest investment. To speak with a member of our real estate team about your first home purchase, fill out an online contact form or call (803) 252-2880 today.


What to Do Before Placing an Offer on Your First Home

The process of purchasing a home can be stressful for even the most seasoned home buyer. For those who are purchasing their first home, however, this process can quickly become overwhelming. If you are in the market for your first home, there are several steps that you can take before placing an offer on your first home to make the rest of the closing process easier.

Set a Budget.

One of the first steps to take when purchasing your first home is to determine a mortgage payment that you can comfortably afford.Be sure to remember that your monthly payment isn’t just principal and interest alone—in many cases, your property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and mortgage insurance premium will be escrowed and added to your monthly payment. Escrowed costs can increase a mortgage payment by several hundred dollars per month. Homeowner’s association dues can also raise your monthly cost of homeownership, so be sure to keep these fees in mind when looking at homes within a homeowner’s association.

Find a Mortgage Lender You Can Trust.

Your lender will be your right-hand man when purchasing your first home, so it’s important to find an experienced lender that you can trust. While you can certainly go through a big-box bank or online mortgage lender if you prefer, don’t forget about local banks and credit unions, which often provide incentives such as lower interest rates. As a home is likely the most expensive investment you’ve made so far, it’s important to obtain a loan through a reputable and experienced lender—choose a lender that you feel comfortable with.

Get Pre-Approval for a Loan.

Getting pre-approved for a home loan doesn’t take a lot of time, and shows potential sellers that you are serious about purchasing a home. Most real estate agents prefer their clients to be pre-approved as well, as this will help your agent search for homes that are comfortably within your budget. Pre-approvals can also save you from any surprises on your credit which could prevent you from obtaining a loan—you’ll know about any credit issues up front rather than finding out halfway through the closing process that you are not approved for a loan.  

Keep Your Records Organized.

Once you apply for a home loan, your lender will ask for a good bit of documentation—such as W-2s, tax returns, bank account balances, and pay stubs—to ensure that you are able to afford your mortgage. Start getting financial and employment documentation ready early so that you can find this information easily and quickly.

Educate Yourself on the Various Types of Loan Options.

Although the 30-year conventional mortgage is the most common type of home loan, it is certainly not the only one. Be sure to explore other options such as FHA loans, VA loans, and shorter-term loans, which might be a better match for you than the run-of-the-mill conventional loan.

Research the Area Where You are Looking to Move.

Make sure that you know the ins and outs of the area of your future home. Looking up information about local schools, average home value, and crime rate in the area can give you a heads-up as to the area that you are looking to move into. Try to find information on average commutes, hospitals, and amenities in the area as well. Digging into this information before you place an offer on your first home can spare you from moving into an area that may not suit you.

Purchasing Your First Home? We’re Here Every Step of the Way

If you are a in the process of purchasing your first home, you need an attorney you can trust. The real estate team at the Boger Law Firm is dedicated to clearing up the confusion that can accompany a first-time home purchase and providing quality representation from contract to closing. To speak with a member of our real estate team about your first home purchase, fill out an online contact form or call (803) 252-2880 today.


What the Government Shutdown Means for Your Mortgage

The United States’ current partial government shutdown is the longest on record in the country’s history, with hundreds of thousands of federal employees being furloughed. While banks are still in operation during this time, the mortgage industry isn’t immune from the shutdown’s effects—and if you’re a federal employee, you may be feeling the sting of a loss of income.

Obtaining a New Loan

The government shutdown has affected a number of departments which are key in obtaining a home loan. The result: applying for a mortgage—an already stressful process—may become even more complicated.

FHA, USDA, and VA Loans

If you’re in the process of obtaining a loan through the Federal Housing Administration, you will likely encounter a delay in the underwriting of your loan. Depending on the length of the shutdown, your closing date might need to be extended as well.

While single-family loans are still being funded during the shutdown, other forms of loans have been halted. This means that if you are in the process of obtaining a reverse mortgage or Title I improvement loan through the FHA, you’re going to experience a delay.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has also suspended approval of USDA loans during the government shutdown.

Although backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, VA loans will still continue to be processed during the shutdown.

Conventional Loans

While the majority of mortgages are conventional loans which are not backed by the federal government, the shutdown can nevertheless cause a strain for those who are applying for a conventional loan. In many cases, lenders require information from the federal government in order to complete the underwriting process. This means that if your lender requires a 4506-T tax transcript, you can expect delays in your loan processing—although the IRS has resumed processing these transcripts, the department is experiencing a significant backlog.

Dealing with Your Current Mortgage

If you are a federal employee and have been furloughed, you have already learned a hard truth—your mortgage payment isn’t put on hold until the shutdown ends. The loss of income that you are experiencing can be crippling for your financial stability. If you’re having trouble making your mortgage payments during this time, it’s critical to be proactive and take action now. Contact your lender or loan servicer and explain the situation. Although not ideal, forbearance-a temporary suspension reduction of your mortgage payment—may be an option that your lender or servicer offers.

Experiencing Issues with Your Mortgage? Contact Us Today

If you’re a federal employee who is experiencing issues with your mortgage due to the partial government shutdown, the team of attorneys at the Law Office of Brian L. Boger are standing by to help you deal with your mortgage company. To speak with a member of our legal team about your issue, fill out an online contact form or call (803) 252-2880 today.



Common Defenses in a Foreclosure Action

If you are facing foreclosure in South Carolina, you are likely afraid, overwhelmed, and uncertain about what the future holds. Defending against a foreclosure action is possible in certain circumstances, but can take a great deal of time and emotional energy. If you are in the middle of a foreclosure action, it’s important to have an understanding of the most common defenses to a foreclosure action.

Failure to Mitigate Damages

A mortgage between a lender and a borrower is a form of contract which binds both parties to the mortgage’s terms. Under contract law, a lender maintains a duty to try to mitigate damages if a borrower defaults on his or her loan payments. If a lender fails to take reasonable steps to mitigate its damages, such as working with a borrower to enter into a loan modification, the borrower may be able to assert a defense that the lender failed to make any attempt to mitigate its damages before pursuing a foreclosure action.

Unclean Hands

The doctrine unclean hands is an equitable defense which dates back hundreds of years. The principle of the doctrine is that a person who is requesting relief from a court should not be entitled to such relief if he or she has acted unfairly himself. Essentially, the doctrine asserts that a Plaintiff should be barred from obtaining the recovery sought because the Plaintiff itself acted improperly.

In a foreclosure action, the doctrine of unclean hands can be asserted as a defense to the action if the lender, loan servicer, or other entity suing the borrower has acted unreasonably or unfairly itself. Examples of circumstances which could lead to a defense of unclean hands include suing for foreclosure based upon fraudulent or forged document and misrepresenting a debt to a borrower.

Breach of Duty of Good Faith and Fair Dealing

As stated above, a mortgage is a binding contract between a borrower and a lender. Each contract carries with it an implied duty of good faith and fair dealing in which both parties agree to act in good faith with each other. If a lender acts in a way that is deliberately unfair to the borrower or “cheats” the borrower, the borrower may be able to raise a defense asserting that the lender or Plaintiff breached its duty of good faith and fair dealing.

What does a Defense do for My Case?

It’s important to understand that with regard to a foreclosure action, asserting a legal defense will not often end the lawsuit. A defense can, however, show a court that the Plaintiff acted improperly before or during the foreclosure action was initiated. This showing of wrongdoing can make a Plaintiff more amenable to working with you to save your home.

Facing Foreclosure? We’re Here to Help

If you are a South Carolinian who has been served with a foreclosure action, it’s critical to seek the help of an experienced foreclosure defense attorney as soon as possible, as you only have thirty days from the day that you are served to file an answer to the foreclosure action’s complaint. The team of attorneys at the Boger Law Firm are dedicated to helping those who are facing foreclosure defend against the action. To speak with a member of our legal team about your case, fill out an online case evaluation form or call (803) 252-2880 today.


HOA Foreclosures Exist–Here’s What You Should Know

If you are a homeowner in South Carolina, your property may be governed by a homeowner’s association (HOA). As a member of an HOA, you are likely subject to monthly or yearly assessments to the association. If you find yourself in a sticky financial situation, paying your HOA dues may be low on your list of priorities. It’s critical to make these payments, however, as failure to do so can actually put your homeownership in jeopardy.

The Power of the South Carolina HOA

A homeowner’s association is a nonprofit organization which collects monthly or yearly dues—otherwise known as assessments—for the upkeep of the neighborhood or subdivision. Don’t be fooled into thinking that your HOA is just a neighborhood group that keeps the pool cleaned and the lawn mowed, however; in South Carolina, homeowner’s associations have a great deal of power. The authority of your HOA is laid out in governing documents called bylaws, and the rules put in place for homeowners are established in the HOA’s covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs).

When it comes to homeowner’s associations, there’s one important fact to take away from this article: unless your HOA’s assessments are specified as optional, they absolutely must be paid. The repercussions for nonpayment can be much more severe than a stern letter from the association or nasty stares from the HOA’s board members.

HOA Liens

In South Carolina, homeowner’s associations can place a lien on your property if you have not paid your association dues or fail to pay any fines levied against you for nonconformity with the HOA’s CC&Rs. If you don’t pay off the lien, then you won’t be able to sell your home in the future, or will have to satisfy the lien from the proceeds of your home sale.

HOA Foreclosures

The most significant power that your HOA has is one that is not common knowledge to homeowners—in South Carolina, your homeowner’s association can actually initiate an action for foreclosure of your home for nonpayment of your HOA assessments or unpaid fines. Put another way, your homeowner’s association has the power to take your home away from you if you do not pay your assessments or fines.

To make matters worse, an HOA foreclosure does not eliminate your mortgage obligation; rather, your lender will expect you to make your regular monthly mortgage payment for a home that you don’t own anymore. Failure to make your mortgage payments can lead to another foreclosure action by your lender.

While HOA foreclosures seem like an anomaly, these actions do occur, and they happen more frequently than you might think. In fact, there are law firms in South Carolina whose sole business is to foreclose on homes on behalf of homeowner’s associations.

Facing Foreclosure From Your HOA? Contact Us Today

If your South Carolina property is being foreclosed upon by your homeowner’s association for delinquent assessments or fines, it’s critical to seek legal assistance as soon as possible. The Boger Law Firm is dedicated to helping those who are facing HOA foreclosures, and have fought on behalf of clients facing foreclosure for over a decade. Don’t wait until it is too late to get the help you need to save your home—to schedule an appointment to speak with a member of our legal team about your foreclosure today, fill out an online contact form or call (803) 252-2880 today.


Homeowner’s Associations and Their Powers

If you are a South Carolina homeowner, you and your home may be under the supervision of a homeowner’s association, or HOA. In such a situation, it’s critical to understand the purpose of an HOA, along with the powers that the organization can hold over homeowners and their property.

What is a Homeowner’s Association?

When you purchase a home in a planned development, the subdivision will often be controlled by a homeowner’s association, which is an organization that creates and enforces rules for the properties and property owners within the subdivision. If you purchase a property located within the control of an HOA, you will automatically become a member of the homeowner’s association upon the purchase of your home.

Homeowner’s associations usually collect fees, or “dues,” from homeowners either monthly or annually. HOA fees are often used to pay for services like pest control, maintenance and upkeep for amenities such as swimming pools and tennis courts, and landscaping for the development’s common areas. These dues are not optional, and failure to pay the dues can lead to severe penalties.

The Power of a South Carolina Homeowner’s Association

While an HOA may sound like nothing more than an organization that keeps the grass cut in a subdivision, homeowner’s associations in South Carolina actually have a great deal of power. The authority of an HOA is laid out in a set of rules called bylaws, which govern the homeowner’s association and its members. It is extremely important to obtain a copy of your association’s bylaws, as this document controls the operation of the HOA, and dictate matters such as:

  • How often the homeowner’s association holds meetings;
  • What officers of the board of directors can and cannot do; and
  • How members can vote for new board members.

The power of an HOA does not stop at collecting dues from homeowners—if the association has implemented Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs), the association is also able to control what you can and cannot do with your property. CC&Rs can control aspects of your home such as:

  • What color you may paint your home;
  • What fence you can put up around your home;
  • How many pets you are allowed to have in the property, along with what breeds;
  • How many cars are allowed to park in front of your home; and
  • What buildings you may build on your property.

Failure to abide by the rules of the homeowner’s association can lead to costly consequences such as fines or an inability to use amenities such as the association’s pool. In some cases, an HOA may even place a lien on your property, which can impact your ability to sell the property at a later date.

Facing Pushback from an HOA? We Can Help

If you are experiencing issues with a homeowner’s association in South Carolina, the real estate attorneys at the Boger Law Firm are dedicated to making sure that you aren’t taken advantage of by your HOA. To schedule a consultation to speak with a member of our legal team, fill out an online contact form or call (803) 252-2880 today.