Category Archives: General Information

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.


Top Reasons for Closing Delays

The closing process can be a stressful period of time, even if the everything occurs without a hitch. If you encounter a problem that causes your closing to be delayed, the process can be especially aggravating—you could be left without a place to live for days on end, and could even subject yourself to legal action by the sellers of the property.

Most closing delays can be attributed to a few key problems, so be on the lookout for the following issues in your closing.

Common Problems that Can Delay Your Closing

Title Issues

A title search is a critical portion of your closing process which can make or break a home purchase. This search ensures that there are no issues with the title to the property, and that the seller of the property is the true owner and is able to sell. If the title search uncovers a lien, judgment, or issue with the chain of title, your closing process could be substantially delayed.

Home Inspections

A thorough home inspection can uncover substantial issues in what appears to be a flawless house. Many of the most serious problems with homes, such as a termite infestation and foundational cracks, are not initially visible when you tour the home. Even if the seller agrees to have these issues repaired, substantial damage can take weeks or even months to resolve.

Low Appraisal

If you are taking out a mortgage to purchase a home, your lender is going to require an appraisal of the home to ensure that the loan is worth their investment. If the appraisal comes back lower than the loan you are trying to take out, either the seller will have to lower the purchase price or you are going to have to come up with the difference in funds in order to move forward with the purchase. You may love a home enough to pay more than it appraises for, but your lender’s pockets only go as deep as the property’s appraised value.

Loan Troubles

Until you sign the closing documents and have the keys in your hand, your home purchase isn’t final. This is especially true if you are financing your purchase with a home loan; even if you are pre-approved for a mortgage, your lender can back out if you incur any substantial debt, lose your job, or suffer a severe drop in your credit score.

Survey Problems

If you opt to get a survey—essentially a map of the property you are purchasing—you may discover significant problems with the property. Most commonly, survey issues will come in the form of an encroachment wherein your home is partly on a neighbor’s lot, a neighbor’s fence is intruding onto your property, or a similar situation.

Final Walk-Throughs

Right before you close on your home, you will take a final walk-through of the home to ensure that you are getting what you bargained for. If you discover problems during the walk-through that were supposed to be repaired by the seller, or if the repairs aren’t up to your standards, your closing could suffer a delay.

Ready to Close? We’re Here to Help

If you have contracted for the purchase of a home in Columbia, South Carolina—or anywhere else in the state—you will be required to have an attorney close your loan, thanks to South Carolina law. The Boger Law Firm is dedicated to providing quality representation from contract to closing. For questions about the closing process, or to schedule your closing, fill out an online contact form or call (803) 252-2880 today.


The Low-Down on Adjustable Rate Home Loans

If you are in the process of obtaining financing for the purchase of your home, you may be presented with several different options for home loans. While conventional loans are king in the world of mortgages, certain circumstances may make an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) the right—or in some cases, completely wrong—loan option for you.

The Pros:

  • Low initial rates: a key selling point of adjustable rate mortgages is that they generally offer a low initial interest rate. The idea behind giving you a low introductory rate is that lenders reward you for taking the risk that your interest rates may increase in the future. If you are comfortable accepting a lower starting interest rate knowing that you are taking a gamble that your rates could be higher a few years down the road, you might benefit from an adjustable rate mortgage.
  • Good if you have a high debt-to-income ratio: almost everyone has debt in some way, shape, or form. Whether you are facing high credit card debt, a car payment, or a boatload of student loans, the introductory interest rate that an ARM offers may be worth your while. This lower mortgage payment can leave you with some extra wiggle room to pay down your debt. In turn, once your debt decreases and your credit score improves, you may be able to convert your ARM into a fixed-rate loan by refinancing your mortgage.
  • A good way to purchase a starter home: nowadays, people rarely purchase a first home with the intention of staying in the home for life. If you are purchasing a “starter home,” or if you know that you will be moving within a few years for work or some other life change, you can benefit from a low introductory rate, because you will probably move before your interest rates are scheduled to increase.

The Cons:

  • Your interest rates will probably increase: given the low introductory interest rates that adjustable rate mortgages boast, you are unlikely to see a decrease in your interest rates over the years. At best, your rates might stay the same, but in all likelihood, they will increase. Be sure to get a full understanding from your lender about how often the ARM they offer will increase, as well as whether there are any caps on how high the interest rate can go.
  • We can’t predict the future: there’s no way around the fact that an adjustable rate mortgage is a gamble—you take a low initial interest rate while accepting the risk that your rates can increase over the years. Don’t count on your rate—and in turn, your monthly mortgage payment—staying the same throughout the years with an adjustable rate. Odds are that your payment will increase.

Ready to Close? We’re Here to Help

If you’ve contracted on your home and are ready to begin the closing process, the Boger Law Firm is ready to see you through the closing process from start to finish. For answers to your questions about the closing process, or to schedule your closing today, fill out an online contact form or call (803) 252-2880 today.

 


Top Reasons People Refinance a Mortgage

If you are saddled with a mortgage with an extremely high interest rate or terms which you are not comfortable with, refinancing your mortgage may be a way to escape the offending loan. People refinance home loans for a multitude of reasons, but several reasons are more common than others.

Common Reasons to Refinance a Mortgage

  • Lower interest rates: the most common reasons that homeowners refinance their mortgage is to lower the amount that they are paying in interest. If you purchased your home several decades ago, you might be facing interest rates of eight to ten percent. Current interest rates are much lower than they were twenty years ago, with the average interest rate in 2018 being 4.5%. With this difference in interest, homeowners can save thousands of dollars per year by refinancing their mortgage.
  • Convert to fixed-rate mortgage: Adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) certainly have their advantages; namely, ARMs generally boast a very low interest rate in the first few years of the mortgage. If rates are on the rise, however, interest rates for adjustable rate mortgages may eventually far exceed fixed rate mortgages. If your interest rates have continued to increase during the periods of time in which your rate can change, you may want to consider refinancing to a fixed rate mortgage.
  • Get cash from your equity: if you have built up a significant amount of equity in your home, you may be able to get cash out of your home by refinancing your mortgage. Oftentimes, individuals do this to pay off debt or make renovations or repairs to their home.
  • Lower monthly payment: oftentimes, individuals experience circumstances in life which render them unable to make their monthly mortgage payment. In such circumstances, refinancing your loan to have a longer loan term may result in a decrease in your monthly payments. While this isn’t necessarily a “fix” to your problem, it can make your payment more manageable if you are in a financial bind.
  • Higher credit score: if your credit was subpar when you obtained your mortgage, you may be suffering the consequences in your interest rate. If your score has significantly increased since you first took out a mortgage, you may be able to save a significant amount of money by refinancing your mortgage at a lower interest rate.

Looking to Refinance? We Can Assist You with Your Closing

If you are refinancing your home and need assistance with your closing, the team of closing attorneys at the Boger Law Firm are standing by to assist you. Our attorneys have over forty years of combined experience conducting real estate closings, and are happy to help you with your closing as well. To learn more about the closing process, or to schedule the closing for your refinance today, fill out an online contact form or call (803) 252-2880 today.


Choosing the Right Real Estate Agent

 

If you are in the market to purchase a home, a real estate agent can be one of your most valuable assets. From the beginnings of the search for your home through the end of your closing, you and your agent will be communicating with each other very frequently. It’s important, then, to find the agent who is the best match for you and your needs.

Tips for Choosing the Perfect Real Estate Agent

  • Ask friends and family about their experiences: if you have no idea how to get the ball rolling in your search for a real estate agent, start with recommendations from friends or relatives who have purchased homes recently. You’ll be able to get a feel for what they liked about their agent, along with what they didn’t like. If your friends or family members had a poor experience with a realtor, you might have the same experience too.
  • Choose an agent who has experience working with buyers: as you narrow down your search for an agent, you’ll likely find that some agents narrow their focus to either buyers or sellers of property. Make sure that you choose a realtor who has experience representing buyers—while a selling agent may be competent at their job, their experience might be more limited than an agent who works with buyers as well.
  • Find a local agent who has a firm grasp on your preferred area: an agent from a different town or other part of the state may not have as much of a grasp on the area in which you are looking to purchase as a local agent would. Look for a local agent who can give you the inside scoop on things like school ratings and morning commutes.
  • Ask how many clients the agent is currently working with: as you search for your home, there will be many instances in which you need to call your real estate agent. Make sure that your agent has time to work with you—if they have too many clients to handle, your search for a home may fall to the wayside.
  • Trust your gut: while the tips outlined above can help weed out agents that might not work best for you, it’s also important to trust your instinct. If you get the feeling that the agent is the right one for you—or just the opposite—then you’re probably right.

Purchasing a Home? We’re Here to Help

If you’ve found the perfect home in South Carolina and are ready to take the next step toward homeownership, the Boger Law Firm is standing by to assist you. With over four decades of combined experience and tens of thousands of loans closed, the Boger law firm is ready to provide you with competent representation for one of the most important investments you will make. To learn more about the closing process, or to schedule your upcoming closing, call (803) 252-2880 today.


The Do’s and Don’ts of Applying for a Mortgage

If you have decided to purchase a home and are applying for a mortgage, then there are several things that you should know about the mortgage process. In particular, there are several things that you should do—and absolutely shouldn’t do—in order to ensure that you don’t jeopardize your mortgage approval.

Mortgage Applications: Do’s and Don’ts

DO get pre-approved for a loan: A pre-approval will give you an estimate of how much your lender will loan you, and will inevitably have an impact on the price range of homes you tour.

DO try to pay off debt: if you have a high debt-to-income ratio, your credit score may suffer. Paying off or paying down the balance on credit cards, car loans, and other forms of debt can make your credit score improve significantly, which can help you get a lower interest rate on your mortgage.

DO use a reputable lender: a home is one of the most expensive purchases you will ever make. When choosing a lender for a mortgage, do your research; if the deal sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

DO keep good records: your lender will probably require a lot of documentation such as paystubs, tax returns and a list of your current assets and accounts. Be sure that you are prepared to give this documentation to your lender.

DO keep in communication with your lender: even if you provide your lender with all requested documentation, he or she will probably have some questions for you. Keeping an open line of communication with your loan officer will make the process move more quickly.

DON’T miss a payment on any account: a thirty-day late payment can severely affect your credit score, which can compromise your chances of being approved for a mortgage.

DON’T shop for more than you can afford: the bottom line isn’t simply the sales price of your home. You will need to take into account the costs of homeowner’s insurance, property taxes, and, in some cases, private mortgage insurance. Be sure to speak with your lender about what you can and can’t afford.

DON’T open or close any credit cards: inquiries for credit card applications can negatively impact your score by several points. While this may not seem like a big deal, those several points lost from your credit score can bump you up to a higher interest rate.

DON’T make any unusual large cash deposits: a large sum of money suddenly appearing in your bank account can throw up red flags for your lender. If you absolutely have to make a large cash deposit, make sure to have a paper trail—keep a record of where the deposit came from and what it will be used for.

DON’T make any large purchases: regardless of how good the deal is at the time, a new car or furniture purchase can wait until after you have closed on your home. Large purchases can throw off your debt-to-income ratio to the point that your lender might not approve you for a loan.

DON’T quit or change jobs: a steady employment is critical to being approved for a mortgage. If you can help it, don’t switch or quit your job while you are waiting to close on your home. Your lender will require proof of income to approve you for a mortgage.

Purchasing a Home? We Can Help

If you are in the market to purchase a home, the Boger Law Firm is here to help you from contract to closing. To schedule your closing today, fill out an online contact form or call (803) 252-2880 today.


The Durable Power of Attorney–What Does it Do?

Estate planning isn’t just for the elderly anymore—it’s always a good idea to be prepared for the worst-case scenario. If you are involved in an accident or become ill, you may not be able to handle your finances or manage your assets on your own. If this is the case, then you will need someone to handle your finances on your behalf. This can be accomplished by creating a durable power of attorney.

What is a Durable Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney is a legal document which gives a person rights to perform certain actions on someone else’s behalf. The maker of the document is called the “principal,” and the person appointed on the principal’s behalf is called the “attorney in fact.”

In contrast to many legal documents, a durable power of attorney is still legally binding even if you become incapacitated or unable to make decisions for yourself. In other words, a durable power of attorney is a legal document which appoints an individual of your choosing to act on your behalf in the event that you become unable to manage your own affairs.

What is a Durable Power of Attorney’s Role?

An attorney in fact can be any person that you feel comfortable handling your affairs. This individual can act on your behalf in certain transactions if you are not able to do so. For example, an attorney in fact can act on behalf of the principal to do things such as:

  • Sell a piece of property on behalf of the principal if the principal is incapacitated or unable to come to the closing;
  • Sell vehicles, stocks, or other assets which belong to the principal;
  • Pay bills on behalf of the principal;
  • Manage the principal’s financial assets and property;
  • Apply for benefits such as Medicaid; and
  • File taxes on behalf of the principal;

Don’t Have a Durable Power of Attorney? We Can Help

If you do not have a durable power of attorney in place, the time to create one is now. Don’t wait until it is too late; the Boger Law Firm can help you create a durable power of attorney to protect your assets in the event that you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to manage your own affairs. To schedule a consultation to speak with an attorney about your durable power of attorney, fill out an online contact form or call (803) 252-2880 today.


Owner’s Title Insurance: Is it Worth the Expense?

From lender processing fees and title work to escrowed items and closing costs, buying a home can be more costly than you might expect. As such, you might choose to save money by cutting any optional expenses in the home-buying process. An owner’s title insurance policy, however, is an option which should be carefully considered with any home purchase.

What is Title Insurance?

When a home or piece of property is bought, sold, or mortgaged, the transaction is filed with the Register of Deeds in the county in which the property is located. If you are purchasing a home or piece of property, a title search will be performed in order to ensure that clean title can be given to you for the property.

Although title searches are performed by experienced professionals, they are still human, and certain problems in the chain of title may be overlooked. These errors could cause a “cloud” on your title, meaning that you do not have a clean title to the property.

Should I Purchase an Owner’s Title Insurance Policy?

If you are obtaining a loan through a lender or mortgage broker, a lender’s title insurance policy will be a mandatory expense. The lender’s title insurance policy protects the lender in the event that a defect exists in the title to the property. Such a defect might put the lender’s security interest in the property at risk. This policy will remain in effect until your mortgage is fully paid or refinanced.

If you are purchasing a home or piece of property, an owner’s title insurance policy is an optional policy which you can purchase to protect your own interest in the property. While a lender’s policy protects the lender’s interest in the property, it does not protect your own interest in the property. An owner’s title insurance policy is a one-time purchase—generally just one hundred dollars depending on the price of property—and protects your interest in the property for the entirety of the time that you own your home. If a defect in title is uncovered, your title insurance company will defend your interest in your home, and the insurance company will pay for an attorney if you need one. In short, when it comes to the protection of your home, an owner’s title insurance policy is the wisest expense you could have which you hope you never have to use.

Purchasing a Home? We’re Here to Help

If you are in the process of purchasing a home in South Carolina, the Boger Law Firm is here to help you from contract to closing. Our office has forty years of experience conducting real estate closings, and has performed over 20,000 closings in that period of time. Put your real estate closing into the hands of an experienced attorney—to schedule your closing, fill out an online contact form or call (803) 252-2880 today.


Recovering Compensation Following a Slip-and-Fall Accident

Accidents can happen anywhere for any reason, from a spilled drink in the grocery store to a concealed step in a shopping center. In most cases, we can quickly brush ourselves off after a fall and forget about the incident. Sometimes, however, slip-and-fall injuries can produce severe injuries such as concussions, strains and sprains, and broken bones. If you have been seriously injured due to a property owner’s negligence, you may be entitled to recover financial compensation for your injuries.

What Can I Recover in a Personal Injury Lawsuit? 

If you have been injured following a slip-and-fall accident, you may find yourself overwhelmed with medical bills following your fall. If you have been unable to work as a result of your injuries, the financial stress can become even more overwhelming. A personal injury lawsuit can help you recover financial compensation, otherwise known as “damages,” for the following:

  • Hospital bills, including overnight stays, treatments, and surgical expenses;
  • Costs of medical necessities such as prescription medication, a walker, or wheelchair;
  • Time which you missed from work as a result of your injury, including income which you have lost from being out of work;
  • Physical pain which you experienced after your fall and during recovery; and
  • Emotional pain which you suffered as a result of your injuries, such as depression, anxiety, and/or inability to sleep.

In rare cases, the property owner’s actions—or lack thereof—which caused your injuries may be so egregious that a court wishes to punish the owner for their recklessness. In these cases, additional “punitive” damages can sometimes be rewarded. Punitive damages are not meant to compensate you for the injuries which you suffered; rather, the purpose of punitive damages is to make an example out of the property owner and deter similar conduct in the future.

Injured in a Slip-and-Fall Accident? We Can Help

If you are suffering severe injuries due to a slip-and-fall accident, you don’t need to be told how stressful the aftermath of your injuries can be. Injuries from accidents such as these don’t always end at physical pain; slip-and-fall accidents can take a serious financial toll on your life. If you are considering taking legal action against the owner of the property on which you were injured, you deserve competent representation from a team of attorneys with your best interests in mind. The Boger Law Firm won’t simply treat you as a number; our goal is to provide you with quality representation to earn the maximum amount of damages to compensate you for your injuries. To schedule a free consultation to speak with one of our attorneys, call (803) 252-2880 or fill out an online contact form today.