The Law Protects Proxy Vote in Condominiums

By Joseph Adams  

Question: We recently received a proxy for our upcoming condominium association’s annual meeting. The proxy states that if we do not appoint a proxyholder the secretary will be the proxyholder and cast the votes for the absent members. What would prevent the secretary from “loading the vote”? P.S. (via e-mail)

Answer: The law.

If your condominium association was attempting to use a “general proxy”, then nothing would prevent the secretary from voting any way he or she saw fit. However, condominium associations are generally prohibited from using general proxies except to establish a quorum or for addressing administrative/procedural business at the meeting (such as approving minutes or adjourning). Section 718.112(2)(b)2. of the Condominium Act provides “except as specifically otherwise provided herein, unit owners may not vote by general proxy, but may vote by limited proxies substantially conforming to a limited proxy form adopted by the Division.” The statute goes on to state that limited proxies must be used for essentially all substantive votes by the Association.

The form limited proxy adopted by the Division includes a place for the association to include the name or position of an officer or director who will serve as the proxyholder in the event that another proxyholder is not named. Accordingly, it sounds like the form that you received from your association naming the secretary as the proxyholder in the absence of some other individual named is consistent with the Division’s form.

When a limited proxy is used, the proxyholder simply submits the votes as indicated on the limited proxy. They do not have the authority to vote in any way other than as is indicated on the proxy. Accordingly, the secretary, as the default proxyholder, would not have the ability to “load the vote” because they can only cast the votes as directed by the unit owner who gave the proxy.

Vietnam Town seeks bankruptcy protection to avoid foreclosure

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Vietnam Town off Story Road in San Jose is shown in this 2010 file photo. The project’s developer, TWN Investments, has sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Real Estate Reporter-Silicon Valley Business Journal

Vietnam Town, a 20-acre retail project on Story Road in San Jose, has sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after lender East West Bank sought to foreclose on the project.

San Jose-based developer TWN Investment Group LLC lists $58.2 million in assets and $53.37 million in debt in the voluntary petition filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Feb. 13, a day before the bank had scheduled an auction of the property.

The largest creditor by far is East West Bank, which holds roughly $47.5 million in secured claims, the filing states. TWN was behind on its loan by nearly $15 million as of Oct. 22, according to documents on file with the Santa Clara County Clerk’s Office.

Unsecured creditors include about 20 business people who plunked down deposits of at least $150,000 for commercial condos at the complex. Vietnam Town’s first phase consists of about 115,000 square feet of space in 1,000-square-foot retail pads.

Reached by phone on Friday, Lap Tang, managing partner of San Jose-based TWN Investment, said he hoped to buy time with the Chapter 11 filing to begin paying back the bank and eventually start Phase 2 of the development. Tang, well-known in the Vietnamese-American business community, said the project ran into trouble not because of a lack of buyers, but because those buyers had a hard time obtaining loans to purchase the spaces because of tight lending practices on the part of commercial banks.

“We had buyers put down deposits, but they could not get a loan; now, there are banks doing commercial loans again,” he said, singling out Bank of the West as particularly supportive. “I believe if the judge can give us more time, then we can pay the bank.”

Tang said about 55 of 115 units had closed escrow. Through the bankruptcy filing, he said he hoped to protect the deposits of the 20 buyers who had not yet closed on their units, Tang said.

“A foreclosure would mean the deposits and investments would be gone,” he said.

“We understand that the deposits were their hard-earned money or from (the) equity line from their homes and they had to pay interest in the past several years,” Tang added in a follow-up email. “We don’t want to see them to lose their deposits.”

Tang said selling the remaining units would be sufficient to pay off the entire construction loan, plus part of the land loan, and that he has received interest from investors in beginning the second phase. That part would include another 185,000 square feet of commercial condos on the remaining 12 acres of undeveloped land, which has already been approved by the city, he said.

An East West Bank spokeswoman declined to discuss specifics of the foreclosure except to confirm that the bank had decided to move ahead with the process. The bank picked up the loan when it took over the deposits and many of the loans of United Commercial Bank, which failed in 2009.

United Commercial provided an $18 million loan in March 2005 to buy the property and an additional $31.1 million in December 2008 to build the first phase of the project, according to previous Business Journal reporting.

SAN JOSE HAS LOWEST HOUSING VACANCY RATES IN THE US

The San Jose area has 650,700 housing units, and only 28,100 of them are empty. That gives San Jose a vacancy rate of just 4.3%, the lowest in the country by a significant margin. The next lowest is Lancaster Pennsylvania at 5.6%. Surprisingly San Francisco is at 7.12% and New York is at 9.92%. I suppose that means it’s time to start breaking ground on some more residential units–preferably in dense urban parts of San Jose.


Source: SVBJ
File:Downtown san jose.jpg

In Need Of A New House

A few years ago, we were blessed with another baby. At about the same time, the custody battle with my ex-wife was finally over, so we found ourselves with two new full-time additions to our family. Our three bedroom apartment was fine with just the five of us, but suddenly our five had become seven.

The house we moved into was large enough wired before computers. Most of the light switches didn’t control ceiling lamps, but instead regulated power to light sockets. We didn’t find this out until after we had the family room arranged with my computer, my wife’s computer, and the kid’s computer. My wife turned the light switch off and all of a sudden, every computer in the room shut off.

This was a serious problem. We tried switching the plugs, maybe plugging the computers into different sockets would fix the issue, but to no avail. Every socket in that room was wired to be controlled by a light switch. We knew we’d have to call a professional to come and fix this for us.

Calling a Professional

We had no clue where to start. There is so much information on the internet, with everyone recommending everyone else, we simply couldn’t figure out where to begin. So we called a friend of mine who had a similar problem, and they recommended a professional to us.

When I called, the secretary who answered was very professional. She was knowledgeable both about the electricians who worked for the company as well as the work they did. I could tell that this wasn’t some temp agency hire who could barely man a phone, but instead someone who was intimately familiar with the construction industry.

Getting the Quote

I made the appointment, and was eager to meet the guy. He came to our house at the agreed upon time, and was able to quickly give us an estimation. I wish that the Cable Guy was as prompt and professional as the electrician I had called.

He gave us an official quote and told us that if anything else came up to change the cost he’d talk to us before doing the work, which I wholeheartedly agreed with. My wife and I had heard horror stories in the past of repair guys doing extra work and charging exorbitant prices for stuff that wasn’t approved by the people they were working for.

A Working House

A couple of days went by without us having electricity. We took a mini vacation nearby, so we could come home in case of an emergency. The electrical expert would occasionally call us to give us an update, and after a couple of days we got a call saying he was all finished. We eagerly packed up and came home. I hesitantly plugged my computer in and let it boot up, then turned off the offending light switch that had caused all of these problems.

Nothing happened. The computer stayed on. I eagerly paid the electrician and told him I’d recommend him and his services to everyone.

Featured images:

By Doug Whittaker

Bio – Doug Whittaker is an experienced writer, and has written thousands of articles on a myriad of topics. He loves to write about home repairs of all kinds, especially the ones where he didn’t have to do anything. He also writes about crafting and cooking and being a stay-at-home dad.

Bay Area Condos Market Heats Up to Record Levels

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Pete Carey, San Jose Mercury News

The Bay Area’s market for condominiums and townhouses has seldom been hotter. Existing units are selling in record time with multiple offers, and new ones are being snapped up before there’s even a model home to see.

Just ask Niha Singh. Last month, Singh, a 27-year-old Silicon Valley computer engineer, and her husband tried to buy one of 12 units in a new townhouse development under construction in Milpitas. Even though they’d car-camped outside the developer’s office, they ended up on a waiting list.

“When we got there on Friday, there was already a line,” she said. “People were camping out, some of them for six days before the date of release.”

Across the Bay Area, buyers are fighting for a limited supply of new and existing condos. Investors have already snapped up many foreclosures and short sales and are renting them out, while owners who might sell in a typical market are either still on the sidelines watching prices rise or are underwater and can’t afford to sell. And demand has been growing.

Condos — the affordable homes chosen by many first-time buyers — have made bigger annual gains in asking price than single-family homes in all parts of the Bay Area, according to real estate website Trulia. Sales are at their highest level since late 2008, according to DataQuick, a housing information company.

“There are huge numbers of people trying to buy what’s available,” said Quincy Virgilio, a specialist in the condo and

townhouse market and vice chairman of MLS Listings. “We’re seeing incredible overbids, and multiple offers on a regular basis. A lot of them are first-time buyers trying to get into this marketplace.”

Adding to the pressure for many condo shoppers, apartment rents shot up nearly 10 percent in a year, encouraging even more people to join the hunt.

“We want to start a family, and a two-bedroom near our work is $2,600,” Singh said. “We thought, why not pay it as a mortgage?”

Some

builders are converting condos to apartments to take advantage of the rising rents, according to some real estate professionals. Also, lenders are still reluctant to finance condo projects, said Tony Sum of Silicon Valley Lofts and Condos.

But new projects are under way, and condo prices are rising, too. In the last three months of 2012, median sale prices for condos were up 25 to 35 percent from the same quarter in 2011 in the East Bay, Peninsula and South Bay, according to DataQuick.

Buyers have to be nimble. The average time for a condo to sell dropped about 40 percent in December from a year earlier in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, according to MLS Listings. In San Jose, the time it took to sell a condo or townhouse dropped from 89 days in December 2011 to 31 days in December 2012.

Condos in Castro Valley sold in 11 days in December, compared with 82 days in 2011, the Bay East Association of Realtors reported. In Pleasanton, the average number of days on the market dropped from 52 days in December 2011 to 10 days last December.

In Fremont, the number of condos for sale dropped from 112 in December 2011 to 20 in December.

“It’s as nutty as the market for single-family homes now,” said Jennifer Branchini, president-elect of the Bay Area East Realtors Association.

In Contra Costa County, condos sold in January in less than half the time it took in January 2011, according to the Contra Costa Association of Realtors.

One condo in Concord sold last week for nearly twice the list price.

“We had it listed at $125,000 and we had 28 offers,” said Barbara Safran of Land of Gold Realty in Walnut Creek. “We ended up selling it for $205,000” in an all-cash deal to buyers who plan to move in, she said.

It was on the market for a week. “It could have sold in two days,” she said.

It’s even tough in the retirement condo market.

Units at retirement community Rossmoor in Walnut Creek are selling like hot cakes. Mary Beall-Neighbor, broker-manager at Prudential California Realty in Walnut Creek, said the 55-plus development typically has about 150 listings at a time. “Yesterday we had 16. That gives you an idea. And it’s not just Rossmoor. That’s kind of the way it is everywhere,” she said.

Nancy Blum, 61, of Chicago, is finding out that you have to be fast if you want to buy a one-bedroom unit in Rossmoor. Her agent called her with 10 listings recently. Blum picked out six and flew out three days later. By that time, all the condos she could afford were gone, and only four of the 10 were left. By the end of the week, all but one of the 10 were sold.

“Three days?” Blum said. “My home in the Chicago suburbs has been on the market for two years. It’s like, ‘Are you kidding me?'”

Rising prices should eventually bring more sellers off the fence, said Mark Wong of Alain Pinel Realtors in Saratoga. “Lots of people know the market hit the bottom, interest rates are historically low and not going up soon.” That makes lots of people jump into the market.

Property Investor’s Dictionary: 10 Terms You Need To Know

One form of investment that has been extremely popular and lucrative for many years is property investment, and landlords with a portfolio of properties and a good knowledge of the industry are able to make big money from such investments. However, everyone has to start somewhere and as a rookie investor it is important to familiarize yourself with the market and with the terminology associated with property investment.

Like most other industries, the property and mortgage sector has its own jargon and terminology that might sound like double Dutch to those unfamiliar with it. If you are planning to make a success of property investment, it is vital that you develop a good knowledge of common terms used in the industry, as failure to do this could result in costly mistakes. Whether you are planning to buy existing homes to rent out or whether you are considering buying land in order to build property to rent out, knowing the industry jargon can help you to make a greater success of your investment.

Commonly used terms all property investors should know

If you are thinking of investing in property, there are some common terms that you should be aware of, many of which are related to the financial side of things. This includes:

  • Void periods: The void period for a rental property is the period during which the property is empty rather than being tenanted. These are periods during which no rental income is being earned because there is no tenant in the property
  • Equity: The equity in a property is the difference between the value of the property and the amount that you owe on the mortgage loan for the property
  • LMI: This is lender’s mortgage insurance, and is usually a necessity in the event that you are borrowing in excess of 80 percent of the property value. LMI provides protection for the lender in the event that you, as the borrower, default on repayments
  • Bridging loan: This is a short term loan that many investors and buyers use in order to bridge the gap between selling an existing property and buying a new one.
  • Fixed rate: A fixed rate home loan is one where you pay the same rate of interest on the loan for a fixed period of time, so your repayments for those houses for sale remain the same for that period of time
  • Credit check: Regardless of whether you purchase houses of land, this is a check that is carried out to determine your creditworthiness using information that is logged by credit reference agencies. This check will be carried out on you when you apply for finance to buy an investment property but is also something that you may want to carry out on potential tenants to determine the likelihood of them being able to keep on top of rental payments
  • Capital gain: This simply refers to the sum by which your property has increased in value since you purchased it. So, if you buy a property for $100,000 and the value then increases to $150,000 a few years down the line, that additional $50,000 is your capital gain
  • CGT: This stands for Capital Gains Tax and refers to the tax that you will have to pay in some countries if you sell your investment home and make a profit from the sale
  • Tenancy agreement: This is a legal document that outlines the terms of the tenancy and is signed by both the landlord/letting agent and the tenant/s. Breach of this agreement on the tenant’s part could mean that you are able to evict or take legal action. Breach of the agreement on your part means that the tenant could potentially take action against you.
  • Off plan: If you buy an investment property off plan, you are buying it before it is actually built based on the plans alone. This is something that many property investors do when looking to invest in and rent out apartments and properties that are planned but yet to be constructed.
Featured images:

Iona Gray is a writer and an experienced property investor. She’s currently looking for land and houses for sale in Perth.

What Can You Do With A Garage?

images (4)Surprisingly nowadays, a garage is not just a place for storing your car; it has many more inventive purposes than that. Ask anyone that has a garage and they’ll tell you that that they’re indispensable storage areas that they couldn’t live without and they wouldn’t even consider moving to a house that doesn’t have one.
Garages that were originally intended for one vehicle are much too small to fit a standard modern vehicle into, this has led to many people using their underutilised garage into a practise room for a band, a wood workshop, art studio or even an extra bedroom.
Quite often garages are also used as a party venue for many high school and college parties; a place for the table tennis battles to take place and a comfortable zone for teenagers to play their video games. This may seem like a very one sided affair as the kids get all of the fun in the garage but when you think about the peace that you’ll have in the house, it’s definitely worth the sacrifice.
If your garage isn’t attached to the house then a really popular thing to do is to convert it into an apartment. A lot of people use their conversion as a home for an elderly parent or a grown up child that has had to back home, in order for them to maintain their privacy and their own way of living. However, if you don’t have this type of worry then renting your new development out for a little extra cash always works well too.
Some people prefer to use their garage in a more practical way and store the items that they no longer want in the house. A lot of the time, this is what garages end up being used for – unless they’re much bigger of course – because it’s convenient and it means that people can hold on to belongings for much longer. A lot of the time, the items that are stored in a garage are ones that should have been thrown out long before but people can’t bear to part with them due to their sentimental value, or the fact that they could come in useful in the future.
If all of these weren’t good enough reasons to have a garage, they also add value to your home so when you’ve finished using it for a huge number of purposes someone else can enjoy it too and pay you for the privilege.

John Danes – a garage door designer – says that he couldn’t live without his automatic garage door from rollerdor.com because of the added convenience that it brings to his life.