Category Archives: Real Estate

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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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.



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.