Friday, April 22, 2011

Assistance Available to "Green" Homeowners of Long Island

The Federal Government is now rewarding those homeowners on Long Island who choose to “go green” by offering assistance in the form of low-cost loans for energy-efficient home improvements. The pilot federal program, PowerSaver, will provide loans of up to $25,000.00 at low interest rates during its two-year pilot period. In addition, The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority will offer local assistance of up to $13,000.00 for similar renovations. The Town of Islip will open its office in Bay Shore shortly to assist local-area homeowners apply for loans. Be on the look-out for the announcement next week of its opening date.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Underground Oil Tank Test - EZY3 Locator Plus Test

There has been a recent discussion among some local attorneys about the validity of and mechanism of an EZY3 Locator Plus Test. Knowing what I don't know, I asked Matt Kaplan of Housemaster, who teaches home inspections at our real estate school to explain.

Here is his response:

EZY 3 Locator Plus is not new technology (10 years). It uses ultrasound to scan the ullage (empty) area of a tank and is generally used in conjunction with other testing devices, such as low pressure volumetric testing equipment. The testing model described below is completely inaccurate based on several levels.

For example, air intrusion is not a physical condition considered during a tank test. Pressure may be introduced to a bulk storage facility and monitored for changes in pressure, but there is no condition for 'sucking' or release determined during that testing cycle.

Petroleum bulk storage (PBS) testing is regulated within specific guidelines established by regulatory authorities. The simplistic language referred to below actually creates a question of liability based on misinformation.

Your client would be served better by understanding the nature surrounding petrochemical pollution and appropriate regulations.

Specially, Matt was addressing the attorneys statement that: "test appears to be the suggested step up insofar as testing from traditional soil sampling, but not sure that it actually applies "pressure" or the like. It seems, unlike an air pressure test of years back (blowing air INTO the tank to check for leakage of air out of it), the below may be a slight vacuum of air OUT of thetank, then seeking to determine if air is being sucked INTO the tank- thus holes for leakage."

I hope you now understand the EZY3 Locator Plus Test.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Credit & Credit Report Questions Answered By Christopher Lauria

For those of you who were at Tuesday’s Mortgage Mania CE course in Southampton – 2 questions that came up from local Real Estate Agents about credit have been answered by Christopher Lauria, President of Innovative Business & CO NY.

On your credit report, some accounts might read "account closed at grantor's" request or "closed by grantor." This means your credit card issuer, or bank for some reason, had your account closed and reported to the bureaus to have that term added to your trade line.
The listing or the fact that your creditor closed your credit card (rather than you closing it) won't hurt your credit score but may sway an approval from another creditor. However, your credit score could be affected by a closed credit card if you still have the balance on the credit card or credit cards.
If this isn't true and you requested that your account be closed. You can dispute the credit report entry. You may contact my company any time for assistance with such matters.
This is a common myth and please don't let it be the reason that you don't know what your credit scores are. Checking your report on your own will absolutely not hurt your credit scores In fact, you could check your report every week and it wouldn't hurt your score one bit as long as they are self disclosure. There are services that provide free credit reports but they really are not free lol, in which you can view all three credit scores that purchase your credit profile directly from the 3 Bureaus, the one main issue with this is that most of these companies base your scores on a higher tier scoring system which goes up to 950 to where banking standard industry only goes up to 850. The problem with that is when you view your scores they appear 35-55 points higher and unfortunately that causes many misconceptions. Also you may request your credit reports once a year from the 3 major bureaus, these are the most accurate reports you can receive. However when you request your 3 for free once a year directly from the bureaus, they unfortunately do not provide scores just creditor information.
The only thing you want to be careful of is using a company that doesn't get your score directly from the three credit bureaus. Using an outside source could count as an inquiry by an outsider and could hurt your score because technically, the request to the bureaus isn't being made by you, in this case it's whats called a hard inquiry and can count for a few points on each bureau especially if your scores are being shopped to different banks, which occurs mostly when purchasing an automobile, credit card applications certain bank loans etc, but you can always ask the financial manager to please not shop your credit profile to multiple banks, But if you have poor credit they do this so that they can get you financed in which case you really do not have much of a choice so let them shop your credit profile.
Now The Good News:
Inquiries have little impact on your credit score. Credit scores have been redesigned in recent years to account for the fact that many people shop for credit.
The main factors in lowering a credit score are 1) making late payments or outright default and 2) level of credit balances.

Christopher Lauria
Innovative Business & Co NY Inc
998 C Old Country Road Suite 293
Plainview NY 11803
Telephone: (800) 422-8350
Office: (516) 960-7759
Mobile: (646) 644-9144
Fax: (800) 356-6506

CE on Short Sales & Foreclosure 5/10 in Melville * Only a few seats left!

Attention Real Estate Professionals: We have a few seats left for Foreclosure & The Economy: The Short Sale Class on May 10th at the Newsday Training Center in Melville. Register now before its full! 3 CE Credits! FOOD FUN AND FREE!
Foreclosure and the Economy: The Short-Sale Class
This seminar is very similar to the course that Mr. Lieb taught to the Suffolk County Bar Association as a Faculty Member of the Suffolk Academy of Law. Beginning with basic definitions, this course quickly jumps into providing the requisite skills to draft a Hardship Letter, negotiate with a Loss Mitigation Department, navigate The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, and much more. This course will get you ready to make money in this difficult economy.

Click Here to Register

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Electronic Contracts

Good news! 15 USCS 7001(a)(1) says that a signature, contract, or other record relating to such transaction may not be denied legal effect, validity, or enforceability solely because it is in electronic form; and 15 USCS 7001(a)(2) declares that a contract’s validity may not be denied legal effect solely because an electronic signature or electronic record was used for its formation.

Naldi v. Grunberg (908 N.Y.S.2d 639 (2010)) interprets this statute according to NYS law, that electronically subscribed contract be given the same legal effect as a contract subscribed on paper, whether or not the transaction affected interstate or foreign commerce.

This means that contracts, including real estate contracts, may be signed and sent by either electronic mail or facsimile.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Reminder-Tax Grievance Time!

Tax grievance time is just around the corner. All grievances for the Town of Brookhaven must be filed between May 1st and May 17th (the third Tuesday in May).

Grievances may be filed by mail, or in person, but remember to bring an extra copy to have stamped as filed. There is no fee for filing your tax grievance complaint in the Town of Brookhaven.

This year’s equalization rate in the Town of Brookhaven is .86. To get the assessed value, the property value is divided by .86%.

Example: My house is valued at $190,000.00 and I divide that by .86% (remember to press the percent button) which turns out to be $1634.00.

Southold Historical Society Art Auction on April 30

The Southold Historical Society is holding its annual Art Auction on Saturday April 30th, 2011 at Castello di Borghese Vineyard in Cutchogue. Event starts at 4:30pm and the auction will be begin at 6:00pm.
* Wine & cheese will be served.

For a preview of the paintings visit 2011 Fine Art Auction

* For questions about the event email the committee chair -  Nicholas Planamento (

Monday, April 11, 2011

Titleserv Closes

With operations in 47 states, Titleserv has closed leaving a gap in the market for title insurance, appraisal and settlement services. Go grab some market share.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Land Use in the Town of Brookhaven

There is a lot of information required to obtain a variance in the Town of Brookhaven. Thankfully, the staff at the Town of Brookhaven can be really helpful in giving you the necessary documentation and information in order to do so.

If one is trying to obtain a variance for a structure in or on their property that is a violation of the local zoning ordinances, there are several steps one might want to take.

The Town of Brookhaven has several documents listing the requirements needed in each situation (for a setback situation, fences, garages, animals, etc.). The instructions are clear and they provide forms.

But, as an example, here are general steps to take. First, it might be a good idea to FOIL property around yours to find out if your neighbors have applied for and received (or been denied for) a variance that may or may not be similar to the one that you are trying to obtain. In order to do that, you need a FOIL application that can be found in the law department on the third floor of the Town of Brookhaven, or on the Town of Brookhaven’s website. In order for the Town to search for these records (only the past 10 years are on their computers, and more specific information is needed if you are searching for records from before then), you must give them the address, name, and section block and lot of the property. First, one might drive around the neighborhood and write down their neighbors addresses. Then, a call can be made to the Town of Brookhaven’s Tax Assessor’s office in order to obtain section, block, and lot numbers, as well as names for those properties. Beware because they will only allow you to ask for two addresses per day, and beyond that you must either call back on a later day, or go to the Town of Brookhaven’s tax assessor’s office to use their computers and search the database. This cannot be done from your home computer. You can send the FOIL request in online or by mail, and will receive a response in about 30 days (no promises), and will be charged .25 cents per page. Another helpful hint is to ask for documents, not information, because they can only give documents, not information, pursuant to a FOIL request.

After getting the appropriate information from your FOIL request, the next step is to fill out an application for a building permit, which will be denied, but is a necessary step in obtaining a variance. Of course, it is by some miracle not denied, then you are in an even better position and will not need to proceed. The building permit department is on the first floor in the Town of Brookhaven, and the clerk at the front desk in the back can furnish you with those. If you need to speak with a representative, you must take a number and a seat to be helped, similar to the system at the DMV. The application and paperwork call for the required information to be submitted with such.

Once an application has been denied, one can apply for a variance. This requires several steps and a lot of information is needed, depending on specifically which type. Again, the Town of Brookhaven’s land use department (on the right when you walk in) is very helpful and will give you the necessary forms and paperwork, and even explain to you what you will need in each situation.

After applying for the variance, and taking all of the necessary steps, the zoning board will have a hearing. Part of the process is giving notice to your neighbors so they can present themselves at the hearing to give their input (ie if they are adamant about you not having roosters on your property). The hearing is where it might be helpful to have your FOIL’ed information on your neighbors as evidence.

All in all, the process may take time and be tedious, because of the several steps, but because of the Town of Brookhaven’s amazing staff and explanatory paperwork, it may not end up being as bad as it seemed.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Evidence in Tax Grievances

Tax Grievance Day for many Suffolk county municipalities is coming up. The Town of Brookhaven’s Tax Grievance Day will be on Tuesday, May 17th, 2011 (always on the third Tuesday in May). Here is some important information concerning Commercial Properties for those of you choosing to file a grievance on such.

Note that villages sometimes use different dates and if you do live in a village that law governs, so check their website or call to find out.

Nassau County Grievances are filed with the Assessment Review Commission and can be filed during January 3rd to April 23rd by mail or on the website.

New York State Tax Certiorari proceedings are governed by the Real Property Tax Law (RPTL) Article 7. However, these are also in the purview of CPLR 408 discovery rules.

Disclosure is generally only allowed by leave of the Court. The only two devices that are allowed without leave of court under CPLR 408 are CPLR 3123 Notice to Admit facts, and the admission of ratio under RPTL 716. This allows petitioner to serve upon the respondent a demand to admit the ratio at which other real property in the assessing unit is assessed. This is also referred to as the equalization rate or the level of assessment. Standard rules apply to this Notice to Admit, so if the respondent does not deny that the ratio is correct within 15 days, it is deemed admitted for trial, as long as it is not in excess of 95%, in which case it is not allowed.

Information not normally subject to disclosure in tax certiorari cases is business information and related financial information because it is generally not directly related to the value of the realty. Also excluded is information relating to the petitioner’s business plans and production figures for factories, as well as studies prepared in connection with past, current, or future development, alteration, and demolition. This information has been denied as immaterial, because the courts decided it was not relevant to the present valuation. “Valuation of property is determined by its condition as of a valuation status date pursuant to local and state law---not a future contemplated use.” NYS Bar Journal, Discovery, and its Absence, in Tax Certiorari Proceedings, May 2010 (David C. Wilkes and Nicholas J. Connolly).

Depositions are subject to the same rules under RPTL Article 7 and are therefore not allowed without a court order. Rarely are they allowed in order to ensure there was a competent valuation. In fact, it has been held that to subject these assessors to EBTs would severely impede the proper performance of their statutory duties. Id. EBTs have been allowed for the limited purpose of deposing the State Board of Equalization and Assessment (SBEA), but only for the limited purpose of information concerning the allegedly voluminous and complex facts forming the basis of the agency’s assessments so as to simplify the issues for trial in the interests of judicial economy. Id. Not discoverable are the mental processes and formulas used in arriving at their determinations. Id.

Also undiscoverable are the formulas, policies, and mental processes by the assessors that were used by either the petition or the respondent. On that same note, discovery is not allowed for computation sheets, guidelines, or reports showing fractional assessment rates used by assessors.

One thing that is allowed, even required, pursuant to Court Rule 202.59(g) is an appraisal by both parties. The appraiser’s reports must include a statement in which they give information regarding the method of appraisal relied on as well as the conclusions reached, “together with the facts, figures, and calculations by which the conclusions were reached.” This report also needs to include photographs of the properties and photographs of the comparable property that is relied on in making the report.

In conclusion, most discovery in tax certiorari cases is not permitted without leave of court, and is not encouraged. The most important piece of information, that is allowed, and even required, is appraisal reports.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

On or about?

A highly contested question in the transactional area of law. Does “on or about” mean on that date, around that date, within thirty days of that date?

Unless a contract of sale specifically states that “time is of the essence”, then either party may adjourn the closing date by requesting a reasonable adjournment. Zev v. Merman, 134 A.D.2d 555, 521 N.Y.S.2d 455 (2d Dept. 1987), aff’d 73 N.Y.2d 781 (1988). Whether the adjournment is reasonable or not is for the courts to decide.

In cases where there is no “time of the essence” or “law date” are explicitly stated, once the date passes, a seller may not retain the contract deposit and the buyer cannot immediately sue for specific performance. Once that occurs, that party must make a good faith effort to attempt to schedule a second closing date, and if this does not occur, they may set a closing date.

If the contract specifically states that time is of the essence or has a “law date”, then the closing must happen on that date, and either party is in breach for non-compliance.

Contracts commonly read “on or about”, “on”, or “on or before” which essentially mean the same thing: on or about. These only become “time of the essence” contracts if a letter is subsequently sent, from either party’s attorney, declaring that time is of the essence, and setting a date for the closing.