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September 2016 Archives

City Council considers bill to stop transfer tax dodgers

Every sale of real estate in Pennsylvania is subject to a transfer tax based on the sale price that must be paid when the deed is recorded. Municipalities are allowed to add their own transfer tax to the 1% levy by the state. Philadelphia adds 3% to the state tax and is estimated to charge the highest transfer tax of any major U. S. city. For years, however, buyers and sellers of commercial real estate have used a number of measures to escape the full burden of the tax. Now, the City Council is considering a bill to end these practices.

Jewelers' Row dispute moves to Historical Commission

Several weeks ago, this blog wrote about the controversy surrounding the proposal by Toll Brothers to demolish five properties on a stretch of Sansom Street known as Jewelers' Row in Philadelphia and replace them with a 16-story condominium tower. At that time, the city notified the developer that the commercial real estate project must be considered by the City's Design Review committee before demolition can begin. Now, the dispute has found a new forum - the Philadelphia Historic Preservation Commission.

PennDOT to control digital signage on East Market Street

Most Philadelphians think of zoning as a set of regulations that controls the kind and size of buildings that can be erected on a specified tract of land. Zoning regulations also affect another important aspect of commercial real estate: the use of buildings as sites for large outdoor signs. The digital age has brought with it new techniques for creating and operating outdoor advertising, and the City of Philadelphia is attempting to cope with these advances by creating commercial advertising districts in which the type and size of digital signs is subject to review.

Understanding title insurance in Pennsylvania

Anyone who has bought a home in Philadelphia and borrowed a portion of the purchase price from a bank or other lender in the last forty years has been required to purchase something called "title insurance." The premium for the title insurance policy is generally one of the smaller expenses paid by the buyer at closing, and most people pay it without asking too many questions. In this post, we want to review the role of title insurance in a residential real estate transaction and help home buyers understand what it is and how it works.

Sale of Greylock Estate complicated by liens and easements

A large residential property stands vacant, leaving a mortgage in default and unpaid back taxes. The property is worth more than the accumulated mortgage deficiency and unpaid taxes, so the solution seems simple: sell the property and pay the taxes and mortgage arrearage out of the proceeds. The seeming simplicity of this solution can run into trouble when the property is a historic mansion in Chestnut Hill and any sale can entail a number of real estate disputes.

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