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As is happening across media of all types, another level of multi-level marketing has hit the Prime-Time airwaves. The National Association of Realtors, which distinguishes between real estate agents (potentially unaccredited sales people) and Relators (a member of NAR and subscriber to their ethics code) has hired the sitcom’s star Ty Burrell to appear in its TV commercials and explain the difference. Closing Attorney Rob Anctil forwards this brief piece from the Wall Street Journal with more “information”: http://on.wsj.com/28zN8Eb

300px Modern Family Cast

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Leading by example, Charles Perkins, Esq. Cindy Napoli and Robert Anctil, Esq. personally contributed to the 100 Good Men fundraiser held on September 22, 2016 at the Billiards Café in Ayer to support the town of Littleton Alumni Field Maintenance Fund as well as two local charities nominated and chosen that evening. Their contribution helped raise over $12,000.00 from which the Alzheimer’s Foundation and Littleton Youth Baseball and Softball each received a donation of $2,500.00.

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Condominium unit owners, board members, and community association representatives from across the Commonwealth gathered at the Radisson Hotel in Chelmsford to hear six P&A attorneys and three additional experts discuss issues facing our condominium association clients. The experts included a LEED-Certified professional engineer, an insurance agent with experience in community associations and an energy efficiency expert. Questions spanned the realm of the practical and the unique, voicing concerns such as:

  • Does government threaten community associations with mortgage legislation?
  • Are Drones considered a danger to condominium associations?
  • What type of insurance is best for a given community?
  • How can associations decrease their environmental impact?

Board members appeared to benefit not only from the experts, but also from sharing their experiences with each other. An additional benefit for the P&A Staff was the opportunity to interact socially with a number of familiar faces as well as new participants - many of whom commented on the value of the program.

Of course, the real highlight of the event was when, first thing in the morning, Attorney Charlie Perkins led the P&A Team and the audience in a performance of his song “Condos for Sale or Rent”, a parody of the Roger Miller song “King of the Road”. It set the tone for an upbeat and productive program.

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Developing private apartments may pay more than running a hotel so the new owner, Anbang Insurance Group, a Chinese company that recently acquired the building, has announced plans to make the change. The plan includes closing the building for up to three years to do the work, upgrading 1100 rooms into 500 larger apartments, ending employment ties with 1500 people and paying $100M in severance pay. The hotel has hosted every U.S. president since it opened 85 years ago in addition to many major celebrities which may have inflated the $1.95B price tag. Attorney Rob Anctil forwards this Wall Street Journal piece with more information: http://www.wsj.com/article_email/classic-waldorf-hotel-to-be-gutted-up-to-1-100-rooms-turned-into-condos-1466949782-lMyQjAxMTE2ODI3NzkyNzc3Wj

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tiny houseHouses that are smaller than 500 square feet are frequently disallowed as residences by town zoning boards. A minimum of 150 sf per person is generally required to prevent overcrowding in a building but a new way of viewing this type of construction is emerging. Advocates say tiny houses are more efficient to build, heat and maintain. They can simplify a person’s life and make living in a given location actually affordable. The island of Nantucket is considering approving tiny house construction due partly to the fact that it is so expensive to live there that people have been found living in vehicles, hallways and even sheds. Attorney Rob Anctil forwards this Boston Globe article with more information: http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/real-estate/2016/06/22/nantucket-housing-market-hears-pitter-patter-tiny-square-feet/4xXtjWLT4dQEdyYY3okx9I/story.html?s_campaign=8315

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Perkins & Anctil performs over 500 real estate closings in the course of a year. The staff involved have become quite efficient at carrying out the process and offer a few tips to buyers and sellers on the “Real Estate Law” page of the website. Here is a sample:

Funds: You will need a cashier’s check made payable to yourself for the exact amount listed on line 303 of your HUD-1 Settlement Statement. We will make every effort to provide this amount to you as soon as possible prior to the closing. We also recommend that you bring your personal checkbook in the event that there are any last minute adjustments to be made at the closing table.

Identification: You will need two (2) forms of valid photo identification. A state issued driver’s license and passport are the most common forms used.

Good Faith Estimate: It may be beneficial for you to bring your Good Faith Estimate of closing costs, as provided by your lender during the application process. This will allow you to compare the estimated and actual closing costs.

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Employees who sign non-compete agreements with their employers in Massachusetts can be involuntarily let go from the company and still prevented from working until the term of the agreement has expired. This has been the long-standing rule but now there is increasing discussion among employment lawyers and pundits, not to mention actual draft legislation, to change the process and provide at least fractional salary for restricted employees. Cases of abuse or over-use of restrictive covenants such as the enforcement of non-compete agreements for some fast food workers and summer camp counselors reflect that agreements may be a little too convenient for employers and should be regulated more. Employment lawyer Kimberly A. Alley forwards this Boston Globe article with more information.

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Attorney Charlie Perkins forwards the following update on the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s action against community associations:

By Dawn Bauman (6/2/16)

Led by Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA-D), the Massachusetts congressional delegation wrote to urge Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director Melvin Watt to reconsider FHFA’s attack on state-level priority lien laws.

The Massachusetts congressional delegation wrote: “Given the widespread effect that FHFA’s new policy will have, we believe the agency should solicit and consider public comments before implementing it. Accordingly, we request that FHFA delay implementation of its new policy on state priority lien laws and set up a process for obtaining and reviewing public comments on the issue. FHFA should consider how its policy would advance each of its statutory purposes, including its obligation to ensure that ‘the operations and activities of each regulated entity foster liquid, efficient, competitive, and resilient national housing finance markets.” 

<<Continue Reading on CAI’s Government & Public Affairs Blog

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Event organizers intent on raising awareness for fallen first responders and law enforcement officers created 13.1 mile and 5 mile routes that began at the Boston Seaport World Trade Center and wound through downtown by Government Center, The Public Gardens and out to Cambridge along the Charles River. Kim spent the first 12 years of her legal career representing police officers and ran the Half Marathon event on Sunday, May 29. She is training for the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC on October 30th.

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The upcoming holiday, marking the unofficial beginning of summer, was originally intended to honor our nation’s fallen military heroes. Beginning after the Civil War, the Grand Army of the Republic, a Union Army Veterans’ organization, chose to decorate the graves of soldiers with flowers as a commemoration of their service. The tradition continues today and staff at Perkins & Anctil wishes to thank all members of the Navy, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, National Guard and Air Force for their service.

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The US housing market has not seen the current rate of new home sales since January of 2008.
Also, the seasonally adjusted rate, which was at 216,000 according to the Commerce Department, exceeded economists’ estimates by nearly 100,000. Market analysts attribute the rise to a number of factors, including steady growth in employment and continued low mortgage interest rates. A low inventory of houses for sale has the added effect of raising prices and shortening time on the market. Attorney Rob Anctil forwards this Wall Street Journal article with more information: http://www.wsj.com/article_email/u-s-new-home-sales-at-fastest-pace-in-eight-years-during-april-1464098576-lMyQjAxMTE2NDIwNDIyNTQ5Wj

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Four companies have announced plans or made demonstrations regarding their intention to build a tubular transport system from Los Angeles to San Francisco that would cut travel time from 6 hours of driving to 30 minutes. This requires speeds of around 750 mph which can be best achieved using enclosed tracks with magnetic levitation capability and vacuum pressure to drive passenger and cargo pods up and down the west coast. Hyperloop Technologies Inc., Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, a company called SpaceX run by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk and skyTran, a NASA affiliate, are all building teams and hardware and even planning test sites in Texas and Nigeria. Attorney Scott Eriksen forwards this USA TODAY article on the Hyperloop: http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2016/05/09/la-sf-30-min-hyperloop-wars/84137224/

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Over 60 entities have filed for bankruptcy protection as a result of the current market downturn despite the recent marginal recovery in oil prices. Exco Resources, Inc. of Dallas, TX is the latest and one of at least five to file last week. Prices of $25/bbl in February have rebounded to around $45/bbl but the increase is not sufficient to stave off restructuring for many energy producers who require a market in the $55/bbl range to continue operating. It is noteworthy that some failing organizations are considering making creditors into shareholders as a way of shedding debt. Bankruptcy Attorney David R. Chenelle forwards this Reuters.com article with more information: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-energy-bankruptcies-idUSKCN0Y42BK

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The Perkins & Anctil website has a number of sections that could be helpful to condominium unit owners. These explain concepts behind the creation of a condominium, their operation and the associated legal aspects. The following can be found in the Condominium Law section under the Glossary heading:

Condominium Fees: These pay for the maintenance and operating expenses of the condominium. They are also known as Common Area Fees. Most Condominium fees include the master insurance policy and exterior maintenance of the building. It may also pay for landscaping, snow removal, cleaning of common areas, pool maintenance, etc. Each unit owner has an undivided interest in the common elements of the building. This ownership interest is often referred to as “percentage interest.” The percentage interest is the unit’s ownership percentage of the common elements and is used in calculating the fees that unit owners must pay towards their upkeep and renewal.

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The National Association of Home Builders has conducted a nationwide survey of building contractors about regulatory fees and learned that those for code compliance, permitting and sewer use are holding steady but increasingly common “Impact Fees” are adding to their bottom line costs. The list of costs that did not exist a decade ago includes storm water management and tree planting requirements designed to mitigate negative effects on neighbors and previously existing communities. Attorney Rob Anctil forwards this Wall Street Journal article with more information: http://www.wsj.com/article_email/home-builders-say-they-are-squeezed-by-rising-compliance-costs-1462613401-lMyQjAxMTE2MzAwOTUwNzkzWj

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Perkins & Anctil attorneys and staff are attending the event which is to be held at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston on Tuesday May 24, 2016 from 10:30 am to 4:00 pm. Come visit us at Booth #326 and receive a free copy of our flyer, “10 Must Haves in Your Condominium Documents”. Also, patrons are welcome to query our condominium experts regarding their association rules and documents. Register at https://ne-expo.com/. Admission is free!

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Pending voter approval of recreational use of the drug this fall, Massachusetts State Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg is getting ready to block home cultivation and retail distribution until January, 2018. Polls suggest legalization is imminent for the Commonwealth so Ms. Goldberg is also proposing the assembly of a Cannabis Control Commission which would act like the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, a group that already functions within her office. She goes on to note that with legalization would come increased costs for enforcement and regulation.

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When unit owners at the Pickwick Manor Condominium were asked to pay an increased condo fee without explanation from the board member with control of the checkbook, some decided to investigate the financial situation. They found an arrearage of over $150,000 to the utility service provider as well as multiple checks written for unauthorized goods and services.  It seems the former manager who is an elderly woman was under pressure from her son to write him checks on the association account in order for him to fund his child support payments and other debts. The Fitchburg Sentinel and Enterprise has this article with more information:>http://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/news/ci_29748574/bitter-pill-swallow#ixzz45WuupSPE

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The following article was forwarded by Attorney Charlie Perkins:

Thanks to the efforts of the Brambleton Community Association in Northern Virginia and their community manager, Rick Stone, AMS, LSM, PCAM, Representative Barbara Comstock (R-VA) has signed on to The Helping Our Middle-Income Earners (HOME) Act as the first Republican co-sponsor, making the bill bi-partisan. Rep. Comstock will help further our efforts by sending a ‘Dear Colleague’ letter to her fellow House Republicans asking for their support by co-sponsoring the HOME Act.

While this is a step in the right direction, we still need your help. Hearing from constituents helps legislators to decide which bills to support. Click here to contact your Representative today and urge them to co-sponsor the HOME Act.

The HOME Act, H. R. 4696, introduced by Representatives Eshoo (D-CA) and Thompson (D-CA), allows for an income tax deduction for homeowners association assessments and fees. Specifically, the bill provides for homeowners in community associations – condominiums, housing cooperatives and homeowners associations – who earn $115,000 or less in annual income, to deduct up to $5,000 of their association fees and assessments from their federal tax liability.

Click here to contact your Representative today and urge them to co-sponsor the HOME Act!

“The HOME Act recognizes that millions of middle class homeowners are struggling to keep up with rising household expenses like child care, college tuition, health care, mortgage and community assessments,” Eshoo said. “The Home Act can go a long way by providing relief from this tax burden on millions of middle class families.”

This bill recognizes the financial inequity facing homeowners in a community association as they pay property taxes and community assessments but receive many municipal services from their community association not the municipality. The HOME Act would lighten the financial burden of homeowners and make homeownership more affordable and attainable for more families.

If you need additional information about this issue, please contact us anytime at government@caionline.org or (888) 224-4321.

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Peabody Energy of St. Louis, MO has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, hoping to restructure some of the debt incurred by the company due to steadily dropping coal prices. Spokespeople say the company intends to continue operating, although given the global and long term projected decline in demand, particularly from China, the reduced cost for competing energy sources like natural gas and shale oil, and the increase of availability of renewable energy, it seems unlikely the coal industry will return to its former market position. Click the link for more information: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/04/13/474059310/u-s-coal-giant-peabody-energy-files-for-bankruptcy

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