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August 2015 Archives

Relocation damages in eminent domain proceedings

Most Pennsylvania property owners are aware that, if their property is taken by a public agency under the power of eminent domain, they are entitled receive just compensation for their real estate. Just compensation is most often defined as the "fair market value of the property." But what about the expense of relocating a business or a home? Can these expenses be recovered as part of the eminent domain process?

Crowdfunding for commercial real estate investments

Residents of Philadelphia may have heard a new term being thrown around with regards to commercial real estate investments: crowdfunding. Crowdfunding utilizes the Internet to allow a person to raise and pool capital from a number of small investors. These small investors would then have an interest in the real estate enterprise to which they contributed. However, those interested in starting a crowdfunding venture should keep three crucial points in mind.

Philadelphia's refusal to pave road provides no basis for damages

Virtually every owner of commercial real estate in the city of Philadelphia is aware of the prohibition on the taking of private property without due compensation. This prohibition - which is contained in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution - requires municipalities to pay owners for the fair market value of any land that is taken for a public purpose. In most cases, the municipality or other government entity announces its intention to purchase - or "take" private land by commencing eminent domain proceedings, but occasionally, a municipality will take an action or will refuse to take an action that can have a significant effect on the value of land. In such cases, the land owner often begins the formal proceeding by alleging that the municipality has effected a "de facto taking," i.e., that the public action or lack thereof has deprived an owner of the value of his land and must therefore pay compensation.

Reverse mortgage can be trap for surviving spouse

One of the most innovative and appealing developments in the law of residential real estate in the last thirty years is the so-called "reverse mortgage." Instead of providing money to purchase a home, a reverse mortgage allows home owners to convert a portion of their accumulated equity into cash. The amount of the mortgage amount then becomes a lien on the residence. Three recent cases in the Philadelphia area have revealed a hidden trap for couples where only one spouses is named as mortgagor. When that spouse dies, the bank that provided the cash can foreclose on the reverse mortgage and take back the house.

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