REFinBlog

Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

April 7, 2016

Thursday’s Advocacy & Think Tank Roundup

By Shea Cunningham

Read More

April 7, 2016 | Permalink | No Comments

April 6, 2016

All The Single Ladies . . . Buy Houses

By David Reiss

house-insurance-419058_1920

Realtor.com quote me in More Single Women Hunt for Homes, Not Husbands. It reads, in part,

Alayna Tagariello Francis had always assumed she’d marry first, then buy a home. But when she found herself footloose, free, and definably single in her early 30s, she decided to make a clean break from tradition: She started home shopping for one.

“After dating for a long time in New York City, I really didn’t know if I was going to meet anyone,” she says. “I didn’t want to keep throwing away money on rent or fail to have an investment because I was waiting to get married.”

So in 2006, Francis bought a one-bedroom in Manhattan for $400,000—and was surprised by how good it felt to accomplish this milestone without help.

“To buy a home without a husband or boyfriend wasn’t my plan,” she says, “but it gave me an immense sense of pride.”

It’s no secret that both men and women are tying the knot later in life. A generation ago, statistics from the Census Bureau showed that men and women rushed to the altar in their early 20s; now, the median age for a first-time marriage has crept into the late 20s—and that’s if they marry at all.

The surprise is that even though today’s women still make 21% less than men, more single women than men are now choosing to charge ahead and invest in a home of their own. It’s changing the face of homeownership in America.

And while that decision to buy can help build wealth and ensure financial stability, plenty of women are finding the road from renter to owner is filled with unforeseen obstacles—and plenty of soul-searching.

*     *     *

Why women shouldn’t wait

But then again, few of us have fully operational Ouija boards we can pull out of storage to pinpoint exactly when our ideal significant other will arrive on the scene. So putting house hunting on pause is something fewer women are willing to do.

“Women today don’t sit around and wait for Prince Charming,” says Wendy Flynn, a Realtor® in College Station, TX, who has helped numerous single women buy homes. After all, Flynn points out, “The time frame for meeting your dream man, getting married, and having kids—well, that’s a pretty long timeline.” So even if you do meet The One a day after closing on your home, “you could sell your home in a few years and still make a profit—or at the worst, probably break even.” If you buy right, that is.

That said, women who do want to marry and have kids as soon as possible will want to eye their potential home purchase with that in mind. Is the new place big enough for a family? Or, if you think you’ll sell and move into a larger place once you’re hitched, how easy will it be to sell your original home—or are you allowed to rent it out?

And if you marry or a partner moves in, make sure to consult a lawyer if you want your partner to share homeownership along with you.

“You definitely should not assume that your spouse’s home is transferred automatically to you once you get married,” says David Reiss, an urban law professor at Brooklyn Law School.

Read More

April 6, 2016 | Permalink | No Comments

Wednesday’s Academic Roundup

By Shea Cunningham

Read More

April 6, 2016 | Permalink | No Comments

Brooklyn: Sky’s the Limit

By David Reiss

Brooklyn Law School’s Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship is hosting a Networking Reception with Panel Discussion to Follow on April 12th from 6 to 8:30 pm. The panel discussion is entitled, Brooklyn: Sky’s the Limit:

The Borough of brownstones and warehouses continues to emerge as a global powerhouse with a skyline that may soon rival that of the Manhattan. From the world’s largest roof farm to drone design and launch, to dynamic architectural environments in which Brooklyners live, work, and play, the Borough is taking its place as one of the most innovative and entrepreneurial urban areas in the world. The numerous ventures driving these and other pioneering efforts in Brooklyn are raising novel legal, policy, business, and societal issues that generate opportunities for growth along with some growing pains.

Join Brooklyn Law School and the Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship (CUBE) for a lively panel discussion that explores these phenomena and their impact on the lives, environment, and flourishing businesses of the Borough and its growing and diverse population.

Introductory Comments
Kathleen D. Warner ’92, Executive Vice President and Managing Director, NYC Economic Development Corporation’s Center for Economic Transformation

Panelists
David Ehrenberg, The Brooklyn Navy Yard – President and CEO
Jonathan Marvel, Marvel Architects – Principal
Ron Shiffman, Pratt Institute for Community and Environment Development – Co-founder
Todd Sigaty, SHoP Architects – Director of Legal Affairs and Sotheby’s Institute of Art – Lecturer
Brian Streem, Aerobo drone developers – Co-founder and CEO
Lee Wellington ’13, Urban Manufacturing Alliance, Executive Director

Moderator

Brian August, 110 Stories – Founder and CEO

This event will be preceded (from 4 to 6) by the CUBE Shark Tank, also known as the CUBE Innovators Competition:

Come experience the Third Annual CUBE Innovators Competition, where Brooklyn Law School students will compete for a small amount of funding for projects and ventures that they will pitch to the audience and an impressive panel of judges. This event is being sponsored by CUBE and Levi & Korsinsky, LLP.

Judges
Tom Chernaik, CEO, Command Post
Mary Juetten, CEO and Founder, Traklight
Eduard Korsinsky ’95, Founding Partner, Levi & Korsinsky, LLP
Charlie O’Donnell, Partner and Founder, Brooklyn Bridge Venture
Basha Rubin, CEO and Founder, Priori Legal
Marshall Silverman ‘74, President and CEO, Silverman Studio Group

Learn more about CUBE.

Read More

April 6, 2016 | Permalink | No Comments

April 5, 2016

Creative Credit Union Mortgages

By David Reiss

Credit Union

DepositAccounts.com quoted me in Types of Institutions in the U.S. Banking System – Credit Unions. It reads, in part,

What You Need to Know About Credit Unions

For more than 100 years, credit unions have been providing financial services to their members. Forget about what you thought you knew about credit unions. Long gone are the days when credit unions were seemingly only a “bank” for government employees. Today some 100 million Americans are member-owners of 6,900 credit unions and credit unions have more than $1 trillion in assets.

The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) defines a credit union as a non-for-profit, member-owned financial cooperative, democratically managed by its members, and operated for the purpose of promoting thrift, providing credit at competitive rates, and providing other financial services to its members.

Simply put — credits unions are about their members, not profits.

 *     *     *

How are credit unions different from banks?

“They are structured very differently. Credit unions don’t issue stock or pay dividends to outside shareholders, so they are not beholden to outside third party interests,” says Steve Rick, chief economist of CUNA Mutual Group, an insurer and maker of financial productions within credit unions.

Each person who holds an account is a member, and each member has one vote, “rather than the voices of only the powerful few stockholders heard at for-profit banks. And all earnings go straight back to members in the form of favorable interest rates and lower fees that other for-profit institutions can’t beat,” he adds.

Banks are governed by paid shareholders and voting rights depend on the number of shares owned. Earnings go to outside bond and stockholders in the form of dividends.

As cooperatives, credit unions are part of a broader cooperative community that shares philosophies around benefiting their member owners. One of the core missions of the credit union system is to educate its members on financial issues to ensure their financial health.

“It’s worth noting that credit unions can offer creative types of mortgages that should be explored by first-time and experienced homebuyers alike. The PenFed Credit Union, along with some other credit unions, has a 5/5 ARM that adjusts every five years. A product like this combines aspects of a fixed rate mortgage (fewer, but not the fewest) surprises about payment sizes, with aspects of an ARM (lower, but not the lowest) interest rates,” says David Reiss, a Brooklyn Law School professor specializing in real estate.

Read More

April 5, 2016 | Permalink | No Comments

Tuesday’s Regulatory & Legislative Roundup

By Shea Cunningham

Read More

April 5, 2016 | Permalink | No Comments

April 4, 2016

Living with Nightmare Neighbors

By David Reiss

photo by dsb nola

US News & World Report quoted me in How to Avoid and Live With Neighbor Nightmares. It opens,

When Mike Scanlin and his wife moved into an expensive ground-floor condominium within a four-story building in a posh part of Los Angeles 18 months ago,the real estate agent assured him that there were no noise nuisances, like loud dogs or kids.

It did seem that way at first, but as Scanlin discovered, “There is a 9-year-old boy’s bedroom directly above our bedroom. He is, like most 9-year-olds, hyperactive.”

Especially in the morning, and the evening, Scanlin says, when the boy “runs, jumps, screams and makes tons of noise.”

Scanlin has talked to the boy’s mother to no avail. An entrepreneur who works from home, Scanlin also sent building managers complaint letters, who in turn, sent letters to the mom.

“Nothing has worked. It’s getting worse,” Scanlin says. “Sometimes the kid gets up at 3 a.m. and rearranges the furniture in his room, with wood scraping on wood, directly above our bed.”

Scanlin and his wife are moving out next month. They aren’t willing to wait around until the kid grows up or hopefully grows out of his behavior.

They say you can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends and neighbors. Easier said than done, when it comes to housing. It isn’t easy to move, and for some homeowners, financially speaking, once you do plant your roots, you may not be in any position to go elsewhere. That’s why, if you’re buying a home, it’s critical to have some sense of who’s living next door – or above you. Neighbors are important for renters to consider, too, especially if you’re locking yourself in with a lease.

So before you buy or rent, ask yourself the following questions. Because if the answers aren’t promising, you may like the solutions at your disposal even less.

*     *     *

What to do if there are problems. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do, realistically, which is why it’s so important to try and assess the neighbor situation before moving in. When you do have a dispute, “these are always difficult situations, without easy legal answers,” says David Reiss, a professor of law at Brooklyn Law School.

“When you escalate by calling the police or filing a lawsuit, you risk developing a Hatfield and McCoys scenario with nobody getting what they want,” Reiss says. “It’s also important to remember that what you think to be utterly reasonable may not be perceived that way by your neighbor or even by disinterested third parties. What is loud music to you may just be a run-of-the-mill Saturday night party to them.”

True enough, and your neighbors have rights, too – which is, again, why it can be difficult to work out a disagreement.

If you can’t resolve problems with your neighbors, Reiss says, “you can try to determine whether your neighbor is breaking any local ordinances. For instance, loud noise.”

You may want to involve the police and see if they will deal with the problem informally, Reiss adds. “They may or may not,” he says.

Read More

April 4, 2016 | Permalink | No Comments