Real Estate and Property Rights, a Cautionary Tale That Is a True Story

As a child I received a piece of advice from my mother. She told me never sell your mineral rights or your water rights on a piece of real estate you own. She also said don’t buy a piece of land where those rights don’t convey.

This may not be the kind of advice little kids usually receive from their moms, but it is very good advice.

My mom was the daughter of a farmer. People tend to think of farmers as ignorant rubes. In fact good farmers have to be pretty savvy about property legalities and scientific matters like soil conservation, plant propagation, animal care and biology, too.

As an adult I was a Master Gardener with our local county Agricultural Extension office. In my training course we learned that plants need somewhere between 16 to 18 minerals to be present in soil to grow. Most farms use fertilizers that include only 3 minerals, nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous.

About 14 years ago I read the annual report of a large mineral company. In it they said that when they mined minerals from a piece of land it is so devoid of nutrients that without intensive efforts to restore the fertility of the land they have mined nothing will grow for 1,000 years or more.

Plants cannot grow without minerals.

Many less educated people who farmed in the US and other places sold their mineral rights to this company. They believed they could make money from the sale of the minerals and still farm the land they owned.

In fact the land became profoundly infertile after the minerals were gone. Worse still, the company knew what would happen.

Was it deceptive?

Of course it was.

Mom, the farmer’s daughter, knew what she was telling me was important.

With oil producers, oil leases and “fracking” it’s more important than ever. Ask yourself, “What will this do to the land?”

This is an important issue for other property owners, too.

Many developers of subdivisions and gated communities reserve the rights to minerals, water and other resources when they sell lots. It might be a real shock to look out the window of your dream home and see an oil derrick pumping away, or someone digging a mine.

To protect yourself find good legal representation and learn all you can about property rights. The risk is, you could discover a very bad surprise down the road, particularly as natural resources become even more scarce.

3 Factors To Consider When Buying Land

Land is very important in real estate. When buying land to construct a house you need to consider a number of factors. Some of these factors include:

Zoning Requirements

Here you need to check with the local authorities and determine the zoning ordinances. You should also find out if you are allowed to construct the type of house that you have in mind. The future is very important; therefore, you should ask whether there are plans to improve the infrastructure in the area. For example, you should enquire whether there are plans of constructing airports and shopping centers.

Natural Hazards

You should contact the authority in the area and obtain a natural hazard disclosure. The disclosure will tell if the land is ideal for building. As rule of thumb you should stay away from a land that is prone to natural hazards.

When determining the natural hazards in the area you should also find the elevation of the land. If the land is located near a hill you should determine the chances of the land moving. Remember that the slab of your house can easily crack if the land is unstable.

If the land is good, but near water bodies you should consider constructing your building using a raised foundation. You should also ensure that you get flood insurance.


For you to live a comfortable life you need to have utilities in your home. One of the most important utilities you should have is water. Remember that you can’t dig wells in some areas. To be on the safe side you should determine the depth of your water table and find out how difficult it is to dig a well.

Electricity is also very important. If the area doesn’t have power you should determine how expensive it will be to bring it to your home.

You should also consider the sanitation in the area. If you can’t hook up to a sewer you should do your calculations and find out how costly it will be to install a septic system.


These are some of the factors that you should consider when buying land to construct a house. When making the purchase you shouldn’t be turned off by the restrictive covenants that might be on the area. Remember that these restrictions are meant at ensuring that the houses constructed in the area conform to given standards. Always go through the restrictions and understand what is allowed and what isn’t.

How To Sell A House And Lot

There are times you think you are incompetent doing some things that are not your field or expertise. On this venture you come to prove something to yourself. Selling a property is crucial but if done with proper documentation, legitimacy, good faith and consent of both parties buyer and seller, transaction will complete in due time.

In my own venture, it took around ten months more or less to sell a house and lot of the transfer of property from parents to heirs of a clean title. You can seek the assistance of a broker, a lawyer, or a realty firm, among others, to help you with the processing of papers. Each office takes two, three or a month to stamp approval or release.

In the process of documentation, you need a set of photocopies of applications, receipts, affidavits, claim stubs, and other certificates. Label them in safe folders and keep in a bag so any time an office requires a copy, you have one available. Should a file be lost, certified true copies could be sought from the proper government offices.

Here are three steps from Attorney Glicerio Alarkon Jr. (San Beda College of Law), of whom I sought help for my papers.

“1 Settle the estate tax where the property of the decedent is located at the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

2 Secure a new title under the heirs at the Registry of Deeds or Land Registration Authority.

Before securing a new title under the heirs at the Registry of Deeds, you have to pay the transfer tax at the City Hall.

3 After all these steps, the property is now ready for sale!”

So after the lawyer’s advise, here is how the papers got processed selling a property. To save on brokers fees, I worked on my own selling a house and lot.

Initially, before step one, real property taxes must be paid every year, but if taxes have accrued and the interest charges are onerous, owners can claim and wait for a tax amnesty or pay in installment. Keep real property tax receipts.

In step one, once the estate tax have been paid, the Bureau of Internal Revenue will issue a certificate authorizing registration. From here, you can go step two.

Other documents you may need are publishers affidavit, an extrajudicial settlement of estate, tax account numbers, government identification cards, valid identification cards, and a special power of attorney from the Consulate General of the country where the other heirs reside if the heirs are living abroad. For example, our extrajudicial is from the Consulate General of the Philippines in San Francisco, California, USA. Also, death certificates of parents, and sometimes, birth certificates of heirs from the National Statistics Office have to be prepared. Save some money for notary fees and transportation, among others.

The last step is the Deed of Sale. With this, the seller should pay the capital gains tax. Payment of the property can be made in cash or check. However, verification from the bank is necessary, if payment is in check. You will need a lawyer to help you during this transaction. Also, you will need the bank’s assistance for safety. Should the money be of material amount seek the help of a police officer. Truly, the help of good workers!

Understanding Construction Financing When Building a Home

You’re ready for a new home. You’ve searched listing after listing but nothing strikes your fancy. Then you decide you want to build your own home. You’ve heard about construction financing but you weren’t sure exactly how such loans worked. Here are a few points on what makes them different.

First, they are loans taken out by the buyer in most cases. Prior to the collapse of the housing market and the start of the recession, the builders were better able to take them out. Most of these loans are also only granted by a bank if you already have a banking relationship with them.

They do this to protect their assets, since there is no completed collateral for the loan. If you are building on land you already own, you can use it as collateral to try to get better terms. The bank will also monitor the process to ensure that the home is progressing as it should.

Construction loans are designed to help finance the actual building of the house. They are a short-term loan with a term length of one year. The interest rates vary with the prime rate, so there is a chance of the loan payment amount increasing dramatically if the interest rate climbs quickly. Add to that the fact that the interest rate on a construction loan is higher than a mortgage to begin with, and this can be a lot of money.

Why is a construction loan higher? The loans are often riskier and they are not as much in demand, making them more expensive for banks. There is no tangible product for them to fund, at least at the start, so they are funding a dream. Construction loans are not always available in every market, either.

So what information will you need to take to your bank? They will start by asking to see what timeline you have for completion. It needs to be a realistic timeline, too, since the bank will be checking the progress, so be sure you consider any possible weather delays. You will also need to take in the budget you have for the project so they can allocate the right amount of funds. Lastly, take them the plans of the house so they can get an idea of the scope of the project.

What happens next? The bank grants a loan with funds able to be withdrawn as needed based on the construction plan. Payments will need to be made on a regular basis. Often at the beginning of the loan, most of that money goes towards interest only. At each of the stages, the bank will send someone out to inspect the progress.

Once the house is completed, the bank will require a few documents to be turned in to them. These often include a certificate of occupancy and lien releases from the contractors and subcontractors. If the bank is satisfied, they will turn the loan into a regular mortgage. This process is called construction to permanent financing. Terms are usually 30 years.

Hire a Team of Custom Home Builders

For most people the decision to build a new home from scratch or buy a home already built can be a challenging one. Maybe after some looking, you might find that the homes that are available do not meet your specifications. If this is the case, you might want to go through the process of building your own home that can meet all your needs.

Designs for Your Lifestyle

If you have decided to build you own home you must first hire a contractor to discuss details of your project. The contractor oversees the project and hires a team of custom homebuilders to complete it. When you are unsure of whom to hire, go with reliable referrals from friends and family members. When your home is customized, it provides more benefits to you and your family members.

You want your living space conducive to your specific family lifestyle. This means that you can dictate dining room size, kitchen specifics, whether you want carpeting throughout the home or not and the type of windows you want. If you love to entertain on a regular basis, you may want to have a home with an open floor concept.

Keeping the Price Right

An experienced contractor helps you finish your project within your budget. You will be advised on where you need to save or splurge by your contractor. This is where experience comes into play. A contractor with experience has seen many home building projects through, and knows how to effectively manage a budget.

Utilizing Technology

Most custom builders utilize the latest technology. The prospective homeowner will be able to see the new dream home before it is built with 3D imaging software. It is best to hire a building contractor that uses this type of advanced technology, so that you can visualize the finished project. Being able to see what your house will look like can give you an opportunity to make changes before they are set in stone. This opens up the floor for more open communication between you and your contractor.

Custom homebuilders have the expertise, knowledge and experience to handle all the details required to finish your dream home. Many prospective homebuyers are turning to custom homebuilders to create their dream home for many reasons. No matter what your reasons are, take the step toward learning how you can own a home that is built from scratch by contacting a building contractor for help.

7 Reasons Why You Should Build a New Home

A house is more than just a dwelling. It is an investment, a way to save for the future and to watch your capital grow. It makes sense to buy and own a house rather than pay rent. If you consider the amount of rent you pay over a lifetime you will find that if you own a house and pay a mortgage, you save a lot of money and also become the owner of property you can pass on to future generations or sell at a tidy profit. Should you buy a used house or should you build a new home is the question. There are pros and cons to each. However, a new home is definitely worth considering over buying an existing one.

You can choose the location

It may not be possible to find an old house in the location of your choice. You can buy a plot of land in a location you like and think of building a new home entirely to your specifications.

Design of the new home

When you buy an existing house, you have to take it as it is and renovate or remodel. You could, of course, demolish the house and use the site to build an entirely new home from the ground up. In either case you have full control over the design, placement of rooms, siting of the house in the plot, size and all parameters.

Quality of construction

An old house will have a number of defects. There could be cracks in the walls, leaks in the roof, peeling paint and similar issues. When you build a new home you are in total control. You can decide whether your new house should be made of masonry-concrete or lumber or prefab or even steel, aluminum, glass. Your builder will also factor in “green” building technologies that will help save energy and keep the house cool in summer and warm in winter. The savings alone make it worth the effort. In addition, when you go for new construction and have a reputed builder by your side you have full confidence that quality materials and processes will go into the construction to make the building last.

Cost control

Fix your budget and talk with the builder. He can come up with a clever design that will give you a house within your existing budget with provision to expand later on. You could decide on a lumber home, which might give you a larger space at a lower cost. If time is a constraint your builder could help you select the right prefab house. You could decide on a concrete-brick structure, starting with a ground floor for the present and then build the first floor later on. You can even decide on what goes inside such as the tiles, wall cladding, insulation, fixtures, light fittings and every tiny detail.

Peace of mind for years

A new house will give you peace of mind for years. You will not have problems of water ingress from the floor or walls, dripping ceilings or drainage problems. A well built house should require minimum maintenance for at least five years, if not more.

Value addition

When the design is right and the exteriors blend in with the landscape to create an overall beautiful aesthetic, your house increases in value. Should you decide to sell a couple of years later, you can always expect a profit.

Pride of ownership

Last but not least, if you have invested time, energy, thought and money in the building of a new house, it is the realization of a dream and it gives you pride of ownership.

Get a Move On With Real Estate

When it’s time to make a big change, life may offer a subtle sign, like a spouse’s note on your pillow that reads, “I never want to see you again”. But how do you know when to nail that “For Sale” sign in the front yard of your real estate?

As life-changing decisions go, selling your home is right up there. Whether it’s to take a promotion, care for aging parents or something more personal, only you can say if it’s the right move for you. But if the choice to sell real estate has been made and the only thing left to decide is the timing, a few pointed questions should tell you if that time is now.

Can We Afford it?

It sounds like an obvious question. Yet given that household total credit-market debt – mortgages, consumer credit and non-mortgage loans – rose to 162.6 per cent of disposable income last year (how is that even possible?), it’s not. Maybe you got in over your head with your first home, but now that you’re slightly older and much wiser, take a close look at your finances before making a move with real estate:

• Is all of your non-mortgage debt paid off?

• Do you have an emergency fund with 3-6 months of expenses put aside?

• Has your home recovered enough value to give you at least 20% equity for your purchase? This will enable you to make a 20% down payment on your next home, saving you thousands of dollars in mortgage insurance costs. If you don’t know the answer, ask an experienced realtor for a free comparative market analysis that will indicate the approximate market value of your real estate.

If you answered “yes” to all three, you may be ready to take the plunge in selling real estate. If you’re not sure what an emergency fund is, you still have work to do.

Are We Still Emotionally Attached to our Current Home?

Do you tear up when you see the notches in the wall where you measured your child’s growth, or do you just think “they must have an app for that now”?

On the other hand, you may have recently experienced a divorce or other loss that necessitates a fresh start.

Usually the reality is somewhere between those two extremes. Whereas the question about finance was directed at the head, this one is clearly for the heart. If you’re quiet for a moment, it will tell you what to do. You just have to listen.

Remember, an expert realtor can offer a wealth of advice on the sale of your real estate. If you’re not ready to take it, however, you’re not ready to sell.

Does our Home Still Fit our Lifestyle?

In most cases, moving out of real estate is more than just moving over. It’s moving up or down. If you have a new addition or one on the way, it might be time for another bedroom or two to keep the “happy” in “one big happy family”. Conversely, when the kids (finally) leave the nest, downsizing can mean less upkeep and more time to enjoy the peace and quiet. After all, you’ve earned it.

With so much at stake and so many factors to weigh, the decision to sell your real estate is rarely a simple one. Nevertheless, taking stock of your finances, emotions and lifestyle can go a long way to giving you clarity. And if you should get that nasty note on your pillow, look on the bright side. Your moving decision just got a whole lot easier.

The Power of Real Estate Signs

Over the ages of professional real estate signage has played an important part. Passersby are attracted by signs and people who are looking for the houses can find them easier. People frequently go out on the weekends to look at houses with for sale signs hanging in front of them. While that is happening less and less the real estate sign still holds power and very few companies have changed them over the years.

Coldwell Banker uses a white background sign with a blue logo that is easy to distinguish from most other signs. Over the years little has changed about this sign. A new 3D sign was released not too long ago but only the effect of the design is changed, the core elements remain the same. The only major real estate company that you could confuse a Coldwell Banker sign with is Windermere. Windermere signs also use a white background but the text is also displayed on that white background. What makes it easy to confuse for a Coldwell Banker sign is the blue backgrounded for sale label that runs across the top of the sign.

Sotheby’s sign is relatively close to both Coldwell Banker and Windermere’s sign but just in the fact that it uses white and blue. The Sotheby’s sign is blue with white text. In complete contrast Keller Williams uses an almost completely red background for some of its signs. Depending on the usage of the real estate sign it may also contain a partially white or black background. No other major reality companies use the distinctive red backgrounds but a few smaller ones do.

Century 21 signs have a black background and are the only major real estate company in the United States to do so. The design is finished off with a yellow house logo and white text. A few smaller companies such as Platinum Realty, Reece Nichols, and Semonin Realtors use black signs but they all lack the distinctive yellow house shape.

Each one of these signs you were probably able to recall in your head because chances are you have seen them before. All of these companies have created a brand image that allow someone to instantly identify who is selling a house. Realtors get a sense of authority from their signs, people know who they are and who they work for based off the real estate for sale sign sitting guard in the yard.

The Changing Face of Real Estate Communications

Some of the important features of communications in the Real Estate industry are enumerated below:

Communication of Trust: Buying or renting a property is one of the more significant decisions in our life. And therefore, it also becomes a crucial one. No one makes a decision on this aspect without being able to trust the other party or the offerings available. Therefore in the real estate space, sellers & agents ought to be able to communicate trust to their consumers. Inability to communicate trust or breach of trust in the middle of a transaction can lead to serious implications for both the buyer and the seller.

Communication of Availability: All consumers would like to have an assurance that the seller is available post-sale for any contingency. Often, in case of real estate agents, they are working on multiple leads and might find it difficult to tend to each one of them at the same time. Going incommunicado only heightens consumer anxiety while the agent might be genuinely tied up. Communication technology now allows for remote handling of calls, or auto call forward options which can keep your consumer at peace.

Communication of Transparency: A real estate agent is often misconstrued to be only interested in his own commission even at the cost of endangering a consumer’s interest. However, often it is overlooked that the agent himself might be in the dark on certain issues. Documents and land records are easily fabricated in the physical realm, with the agent completely being unware. Therefore, the emergence of digital records and ownership records means that all the stakeholders involved can swear by improved transparency.

Communication of Consumer Interest: The consumers today are far more knowledgeable, informed and keen-eyed than those from yesteryears. There is a greater availability of information and improved means to cross-verify everything spelt out by agents and sellers. Thus, it is increasingly important for real estate players to embrace the virtue of consumer interest. If an agent or agency fails to communicate the fact that they remain squarely committed to the interest of the consumer, they are unlikely to build any form of viable consumer connect.

In the real estate space relationships count for much – both the real-world and virtual. The relationship forms the basis for trust consumers place in agents. And the fundamental building block of these relationships is to be able to communicate with the consumers. Communications is not limited to spelling out the property details. It is about impressing upon the consumer that the real estate business is trustworthy, available, and transparent and has consumer interests on top of their mind at all times.

How to Go Green in an Apartment

You’ve already take the first step to green living – moving into a small space in an existing building. But did you know that there are many other ways you can live green in an apartment? Read on to learn some of these ways.

Your kitchen

Think about how you drink water, juice, and other beverages. Can you use a reusable container? If the water in your apartment isn’t very good, you can install a water filter on the tap or use a countertop model. Then you can just refill your bottle as you need. You’ll also recoup your investment quickly by saving the money you would otherwise spend on bottled water.

Power outlets

Just having something plugged in can actually draw electricity through it, even if the appliance or device on the other end is not on. If you aren’t actually using the device, make sure you unplug it. You can cut your power usage by as much as 40%, based on studies that have been done.

Adjust that thermostat

No doubt you’ve heard that changing your thermostat can reduce your electricity bill. It’s true. Turn down your winter thermostat to 68 degrees and you will be able to save quite a lot of both money and electricity. Conversely, turning your thermostat up in the summer and using windows strategically to let in the cooler night air will save on your air conditioning costs.

If your complex allows you, you can even use a plastic film over the windows to keep out the cold in the winter or the heat in the summer. Even if you are not allowed to do this, you can use heavy curtains that will help block out strong sun rays and keep you warmer when the nights turn cold.


If you have appliances in your unit like washing machines and dryers, use them only when you have full loads to make the most of your water and power. Remember, the machine uses the same resources regardless of what is inside. The same is true of a dishwasher. Make sure it is full before running it.

Plant some plants

The fresh air that plants can help generate goes a long way towards cleaning the air in your apartment. There are lists you can find of great indoor plants, so long as your apartment managers allow for them. Even if you can’t grow any indoors, you might be able to have a small container garden on your patio and have fresh veggies and fruit. There’s also a concept called vertical gardening that lets you even grow squash in a small area.

Green cleaning

You can find greener cleaners in the organics section of most grocery stores, so your laundry and dishes will have less of an impact on the environment. They don’t have heavy perfumes, either, so your air will stay naturally fresher.

Light switch

Just changing your regular incandescent bulbs out for fluorescent or LED bulbs will use less electricity and give you a longer lasting bulb. LEDs can last for years, recovering the investment in them along the way.