Tag Archives: real estate

How’s the Market? It All Depends!

This week, I ran across a very interesting chart that describes the various “states” possible in any given real estate market:

A severe buyers’ market means prices are extremely negotiable and may be falling. In Midtown Montgomery, it means in general that only those really needing to sell should be on the market because buyers expect and are getting discounts on sales prices and many other give-backs with dollar signs attached.

So how’s the market? Taken as a whole, Midtown is still pretty much tough sledding for sellers. Overall, we see 11.01 months of homes available for sale. That means in theory that if no additional homes go on the market, it will take just over 11 months for all the existing listings to be sold. The good news is that the inventory of homes available for sale is down somewhat from last year and appears still to be declining.

But..and it’s a big but…Midtown is not one monolithic market. It is the sum of many varied markets. Each neighborhood and price range is a mini-market within the larger Midtown market as a whole. So when you ask me (or whomever), “How’s the market?,” don’t be surprised if the answer is, “Well, it all depends!”

Let’s look at a few specifics, starting with Cloverdale-Idlewild. In the past 12 months, 13 homes were sold. And today there are exactly 13 homes on the market for sale. Clearly, there is that theoretical 12-month supply of homes, which would label Cloverdale-Idlewild a severe buyers’ market.

But for a real severe buyers’ market, we need look no further than Center City (Garden District, the two Cloverdales and Edgewood) homes priced at $200,000 or more. Currently there are 42 homes for sale and only 20 sold in the past 12 months. It’s the perfect opportunity for an old-house lover to sell his/her/their smaller home and move up to the bigger, more expensive home of their dreams! (More later on why the best time to move up is in a down market.)

Hillwood, however, is quite a different story. In the past 12 months, 13 homes sold in Hillwood/Hillwood West. And there are only 8 homes on the market today. In theory, it will take less than 8 months for those homes to sell, so Hillwood is a balanced market. This means that buyers won’t find the “deals” there that the national media has been telling them they should expect.

If you are thinking about selling and/or buying in Midtown, be sure you have the “How’s the market…my segment of the market” conversation with your agent. Then act accordingly to avoid disappointment down the road.

Sandra Nickel has been listing and selling residential real estate for over 29 years, most with an intense focus on Montgomery’s Midtown neighborhoods. Sandra serves on the Mid-Alabama Coalition for the Homeless, the Cloverdale Business Coalition, Historic Southview, the Volunteer and Information Center, Landmarks Foundation and her own neighborhood Garden District Preservation Association.

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Green Spaces 2: Cypress Pond

By Andrew Cole-Tyson

Note: This piece was originally published in an e-mail sent out to members of a young professionals group called Emerge Montgomery. We reprint it here with Mr. Cole-Tyson’s permission. Part 1 can be seen here.

For almost two years now, 2WR (the company where I’m employed) has been working in partnership with the City of Montgomery and The Montgomery Tree Committee to promote a project that will attempt to address the lack of open and green space in downtown Montgomery. The Cypress Pond Park and Greenway is a major component of the promotion of economic development through the creation of green space. We hope that this project will be the first of a series of spaces that will be made for public use in downtown.

These may be “pocket parks” to supplement future urban housing, or places embedded in the urban building context, that promote various public events and recreation during the lunch hours and after work. The goal of this project (including Cypress Pond Park and Greenway) is to make Montgomery a place where people want stay. It will help create the economic base to support new jobs, industry and increased property value.

Economic and Quality of Life Impact of the Park

In many cities, property values triple and quadruple because of their proximity to green space. For example, studies of property values in Boulder, CO indicate an average of $4.20 more per square foot for each foot a property becomes closer than 3200 feet from a green belt. Often, urban parks and greenways are designed to re-vision historic transportation infrastructures and waterfronts that have been abandoned by the public of their cities. Completing these projects generates an immediate interest in redeveloping sites with building structures for public and private uses adjacent to these greenways. Health, recreation, and opportunities to engage nature become catalysts for many valuable real estate development projects supporting enhanced quality of life.

In addition to increasing economic development and enhancing the quality of life, green space creates an opportunity to address an extremely disturbing statistic that rates Montgomery at the top of the charts for the most obese cities in the country. Promoting green space, recreation, and sustainable transportation is one way of combating this statistic, a problem that begins to be resolved by having all of our daily needs in close proximity to each other to promote a walking, cycling, moving, living city.

Today’s Vision of the Park and Greenway

Cypress Pond Park and Greenway is envisioned as an open green space that will provide the outlets to address the issues associated with city living: the need for psychological connection with nature, the need for a place for physical activity and gatherings and the need for a place that will by its very design draw people to our city. This project will:

  • Capitalize on the natural systems at work in downtown Montgomery and provide an opportunity for humans to embrace nature on a daily basis, conveniently near offices and homes;
  • Spur many real estate development projects, increasing the housing density in downtown Montgomery and eventually providing the appropriate density to attract a grocery store;
  • Allow abandoned industrial properties to be renewed and redesigned into spaces and places that meet the needs of the current generations inhabiting downtown Montgomery.
  • Promote a holistic lifestyle not adapted and programmed around the car. Instead of living in downtown and having to drive several miles to get to the closest park or recreation center, you should be able to walk to this greenway from your residence or office in downtown and safely exercise while enjoying nature.

This project, as well as many others in downtown, takes a proactive approach toward a healthy lifestyle change that is very attractive to people of all ages. Here are some details about this exciting project:

A Brief Summary of Cypress Pond Park and Greenway

Cypress Pond Park is composed of the 260-acre Cypress Pond area, which flows through Cypress Creek into the Alabama River at a point known as Cypress Inlet immediately upriver from the city’s Riverwalk. It encompasses (1) Cypress Inlet on the Alabama River, (2) Cypress Creek, which runs approximately 1.5 miles up to the (3) Cypress Pond Area, approximately 260 acres east of Lower Wetumpka Road and north of Oakwood Cemetery. The park site is unusual in that it is a large tract of undeveloped land located in close proximity to a downtown business district. The location abounds with landscape diversity, providing scenic views of the City of Montgomery from high bluffs that overlook slopes with three ancient ravines carved by the forces of nature. The landscape also features beautiful swampland in the lower regions of the park site.

Diversity exists not only in the landscape, but also in the plants and animals living in the area. To date, more than 100 species of birds, 60 species of trees, and 30 flowering plants, as well as numerous ferns, vines, mushrooms, and, of course, insects have been identified in Cypress Pond Park. Once complete, Cypress Pond Park will provide Montgomery with an outdoor environmental education facility and new outdoor recreational opportunities while promoting the conservation and preservation of natural resources. The park will also support the continued economic revitalization of downtown Montgomery by promoting eco-tourism, job creation and business development.

To date, a feasibility study funded by the Kodak Foundation and the City of Montgomery has been completed. $100,000 has been allocated to the City by the U. S. Congress to be administered by the federal Corp of Engineers. The City also received a $20,000 donation from a local foundation in early 2010.

To learn more, visit www.cypresspondpark.org

What We Need From You…

To date we have had input from many designers; locally, nationally, and internationally, as well as engineers, scientists, non-profits, city, state, and federal entities. The design of this project is coming to life with lots of input from the city and residents. However this design cannot become reality without a good marketing campaign and fundraising strategy and voice and active involvement of young professionals to truly support this effort. As the next generation of Montgomery, we will largely benefit from a project of this magnitude.

Our goal now is to increase the number of young professionals who are passionate about promoting this project with their marketing, fundraising, communications, visionary and networking talents. To date, all work associated with this project has been volunteer. However, we are slowly developing a fund for professional services. In the near future we’ll develop a 501c(3) for this project, as well as a “friends group” as a continued effort to market this project to our city.

We have occasional tours of the park and will increase the frequency of these tours as the demand increases. To get involved, contact me at 2WR Architects at 334.263.6400 or acole-tyson@2wrinc.com.  If you are specifically interested in communications, fundraising or marketing activities, or if you have website design capabilities, please feel free to contact Katie Rose at katie1rose@yahoo.com or 334.399.4681. I truly look forward to getting you plugged in where your talents can best be expressed.

Andrew Cole-Tyson is a landscape architect at 2WR, a 40-person architectural firm with offices in the historic Anderson Block Building on Commerce Street in downtown Montgomery, and in Columbus, GA. He views the landscape as an enormous canvas for experimentation and expression of ideas. A naturalist, he is particularly interested in relationships of people to nature and public park spaces. His work includes environmental and site analysis, site and community master planning, horticultural and planting design, irrigation design, graphic design, horticultural consulting and landscape architectural construction document production.

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Intro to Green Spaces

By Andrew Cole-Tyson

Note: This piece was originally published in an e-mail sent out to members of a young professionals group called Emerge Montgomery. We reprint it here with Mr. Cole-Tyson’s permission.

On the evening of July 27, 2010, I attended the event at MAX Credit Union where Mayor Todd Strange spoke to our group of young professionals. The theme, “The Future of Montgomery,” was very relevant and timely. I believe that we are at a pivotal point in the development of our city where young professionals like ourselves can have a true impact by positively affecting the ways that downtown Montgomery will be further renewed and revitalized.

As a professional designer interested in landscape architecture and urban design working with 2WR Architects, I see that a large part of the future of Montgomery is related to urban design and architectural retrofit and infill projects as coordinated with the SmartCode. Key to these efforts is the creation of green space in our city.

Why is green space important? Some of the top reasons include:

  • economic development including increased property values and an impetus for revitalization near green areas, business and job creation, tourism management and use, and profits from programmatic entertainment events, etc.
  • psychological liberation from pressures of living and/or working in a growing city
  • more opportunities for physical activities that can reduce obesity and other health issues
  • increased programs for entertainment (water sports, hiking, cycling, etc), education, music, and the arts in and near green space
  • environmental benefits in the areas of air, soil, and water management.

It is exciting to be here in Montgomery at a time when, if combined, our voices can call attention to ways our city can become a better place for us to live and work.

EMERGE Montgomery is made of a phenomenal group of young professionals that have the capability to analyze what is good about other cities that have already made revitalization changes, and lobby for these elements to become a reality in Montgomery. In cities across the south like Chattanooga, Charleston, and Savannah, younger generations are becoming increasingly more interested in the economic and social advantages of mixed use living in urban environments — ways of living that immediately bring up the subjects of green space and the need for a connection to nature for psychological freedom from the stresses of life in the city.

Outdoor entertainment and recreation made available through the creation of green space, added to entertainment venues, make living in our city even more attractive. Typically projects like these come to reality through public/private partnerships that start with buy-in from city entities such as the office of the Mayor and the Planning Department. Here are just a few examples of green space projects:

http://www.railroadpark.org/

http://www.millenniumpark.org/

http://www.rosekennedygreenway.org/

http://www.thebattery.org/

http://www.chattanoogachamber.com/gettoknowus/riverfront.asp/

Through involvement in increasing green and open space projects, we can take even more advantage of Montgomery’s downtown and waterfront area. The Amphitheater has gone a long way in improving the number of programmed events, but part of the advantage to a large green space near downtown is the capability to enjoy nature at any time without the confines of a structured program, all close to our offices and homes. Green and open spaces are more than tree lined streets, though we do want tree lined streets as well! Green and open spaces are places to connect with nature, and specifically, places that we want close to our homes and offices for the sake of a quick escape.

One of the most valuable components of any city is its relationship of green space to the built environment. We’ve seen the impact of green space in places we’ve visited, and maybe even in other places we’ve lived. City planners agree that green space is advantageous, not only for the psychological, environmental, and social rewards, but also for the provable increase in the value of property adjacent to green areas and the other aspects of economic development that are a result of adequate green space creation.

When I think of green space, I’m not thinking just about the aesthetics of natural areas, but also about functionality and programming to include all of the things we love to do on a daily basis. Street trees are a good start, but what about interactive spaces and places that we will look forward to embracing on a regular basis? The beauty of having these larger open green spaces in cities is that we can leave our jobs and walk into a nice park that may be programmed for recreation (walking, cycling, hiking, etc.), musical events or other after-hours events.

We understand that there is a lack of public green space in Downtown Montgomery. Perhaps the reason for this is because there’s not a loud enough voice from residents of this city expressing the need for both small and large dedicated green spaces in downtown. Due to the riverfront improvement that sparked more interest in downtown entertainment venues, the perception of downtown Montgomery not being a great place to hang out is rapidly changing.

However, when I look at our parks downtown, I rarely see anyone using them for recreational or nature focused activities. And even though as kids most of us enjoyed cycling, I rarely see people cycling. My suspicion is because while the downtown parks that we do have are nice, they are either designed for sitting or programmed events. A person living or working downtown must drive to parks designed for more active pursuits. While the change that has occurred thus far is excellent, my hope is that we can continue to create more green space in our city and maximize its utilization by taking input about its design from younger residents.

Andrew Cole-Tyson is a landscape architect at 2WR, a 40-person architectural firm with offices in the historic Anderson Block Building on Commerce Street in downtown Montgomery, and in Columbus, GA. He views the landscape as an enormous canvas for experimentation and expression of ideas. A naturalist, he is particularly interested in relationships of people to nature and public park spaces. His work includes environmental and site analysis, site and community master planning, horticultural and planting design, irrigation design, graphic design, horticultural consulting and landscape architectural construction document production.

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Fixer-Upper Homes: Opportunity in Work Clothes!

By Sandra Nickel

This week I visited a neat 3 bedroom, 2 bath Midtown Montgomery brick cottage just east of Old Cloverdale. While it was not in move-in condition, it would hardly qualify as “rode hard and put up wet,” either. It comes complete with walk-in closet in the master bedroom and a jetted tub in the master bath!

Hardwood floors are stained and need to be refinished. New appliances are needed in the kitchen. And to become a really attractive rental, the home needs a good paint job. Assuming no hidden issues, I’d guess a renovation budget of $5,000 would handle it all. So for a total of just under $65,000, the house could be yours.

Because it is a FNMA foreclosure, you would be eligible even as an investor for FNMA HomePath Renovation Financing with only a 10% down payment (only 3% if you are going to live there!). Let’s break down some numbers quickly. The cost of acquisition of the house I’m talking about would, therefore, look like this:

Purchase price: $59,900 (assuming you can’t negotiate a better deal)
Improvements: $5,000
Total acquisition: $64,900
10% down payment $6,500
Loan amount: $58,400
Interest rate 15Yr: 4.25%

Payment
Principal & interest: $439.33
Tax: $34.50
Insurance: $50.00
Total: $523.83

You should be able to rent this property for at least $750.00 per month, giving you plenty of room to hire a property manager if you choose and to build a good cash reserve for the inevitable repairs and vacancies.

So where does the dirt come in? My $5,000 renovation budget did not include what I call “industrial strength” cleaning. That, if you will do it (down-on-your-hands-and-knees behind the commode, for example), you will attract a much better tenant. Folks with high standards appreciate cleanliness and they take care of your property!

The other thing not covered in the $5,000 is landscaping. Right now the yard needs some fluffing up, something else you can do yourself to build equity.

Fifteen years from now, your tenants will have bought you this house. At that point you can sell it to pay for college (or whatever). OR you can just use the monthly income to pay for whatever you’re dreaming about today.

Last month, 96 of the 272 total homes sold in the Montgomery marketplace were foreclosures — over one out of three! That means at least 96 folks looked past the “needs work” label and took advantage of the tremendous values available in our marketplace. As of today, August 21, there are 77 FNMA foreclosures available, most of which you as an investor can buy with as little as 10% down.

Over 200 years ago, poet John Greenleaf Whittier wrote, “For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.’” Where will you be financially 15 years from now? Will you have capitalized on today’s Midtown Montgomery real estate opportunities? Or will you just be wishing for “what might have been?”

Sandra Nickel has been listing and selling residential real estate for over 29 years, most with an intense focus on Montgomery’s Midtown neighborhoods. Sandra serves on the Mid-Alabama Coalition for the Homeless, the Cloverdale Business Coalition, Historic Southview, the Volunteer and Information Center, Landmarks Foundation and her own neighborhood Garden District Preservation Association.

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Time to Buy?

By John Herzog

For 15% to 20% of Americans, the past few years have been a time of great economic difficulty due to loss of employment or dramatically reduced income. Nothing in this post is meant to diminish or ignore the economic hardship faced by this group. In the Great Depression of the late 1920’s and early 1930’s even a higher percentage were unemployed or suffered severe economic set backs. There is however, as there was in the case of the Great Depression, an economic opportunity for the 80% to 85% who have not yet been negatively impacted by the recent economic downturn.

One of the areas of economic opportunity is in the real estate market. While the focus of the majority of the media has been on the suffering of those who have been negatively impacted by the recession, and consequently have lost their homes (or much of the equity they had built in their home over the years), there is another story — the opportunity for a generation of new household formations to enter the housing market at the most affordable level since the 1950s.

According to statistics compiled by the Alabama Center for Real Estate at the University of Tuscaloosa, in the first quarter of 2005 in Alabama, it took an income of $27,104 per year to purchase the median priced home of $120,425. The median income that quarter in Alabama was $48,650. In the first quarter of 2010, surprisingly, the median income has actually risen in Alabama to $54,100, while the income to purchase the median priced home of $121,773 has declined to $25,360.

So as not to get caught up in numbers and statistics, let’s focus more on why real estate has become the most affordable it has been in over a generation. Now that one of every three sales is a house that had been foreclosed, all sales have to compete in price with the house being sold by the lender at rock bottom prices to get it off their books. This serves to bring down all real estate values, making prices the lowest they have been in decades. At the same time, in an effort to stimulate recovery, the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury have taken steps to drive interest rates down to levels not seen for over a generation. The 30 year fixed rate mortgage rate is hovering at 4% which is the lowest since Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae began to keep records in 1971.

With the combination of the lowest rates in modern history, the lowest prices in a generation, and a median income that continues to trend higher in Alabama, it is no wonder that real estate for the average Alabama family (not impacted by the economic downturn), is more affordable than it has ever been.

Since approximately 80% of the population has been able to hang on to their jobs, and many are actually making slightly more than in previous years, why has there not been a rush to new home ownership? The federal government understands that real estate values and sales have led the U.S. economy into every recession we have experienced and have also led us out. The feds are very focused on trying to maintain this environment of affordability and are struggling to understand why the real estate market has yet to gain traction toward recovery.

The only plausible answer can be summed up in a single word, and that word is fear. While 80% have kept their jobs and are doing well, the constant barrage of negative press concerning the economy keeps people in fear that they may be the next victim of the recession. People afraid of losing their income simply do not make major purchases like housing, even though it might be the best investment they could possibly make at the present time.

My conclusion that it is fear alone holding back resurgence in home purchases has to do with the sales that are taking place. Every month young people are coming of age, marrying, and forming new households. It is these new families that have been purchasing real estate at all time affordable rates because they have just been hired and did not experience the downturn personally over the past 24 to 36 months. In short, things have gone pretty well for them over the past 24 to 36 months and they believe the worst is over. Those of us who are older are much more cautious and much less convinced.

So what if these young families are wrong, the recession continues to drag on, and it finally reaches them? Will they have made a bad decision to buy a home rather than rent and wait to see when the economy will be in full recovery? I don’t think so. By waiting, only two things can change once the recovery really takes hold. First, prices will rise as the inventory of homes for sale declines and the number of buyers increases. Second, to avoid runaway inflation, the Federal Reserve will have to quickly and dramatically raise interest rates. The combination of rising prices and rising interest rates will cause affordability to dramatically decrease as incomes do not keep pace with the rising costs of purchasing. Those who have purchased already will have fixed payments and see their property values rise from the level they purchased the home, creating instant equity.

But, you may ask, what if the recession does hit those who purchase and they do lose their income? Everyone who loses a job (and consequently their income) is in danger of losing the roof over their head during the period of unemployment, but does it really matter if you own or if you rent? Will a landlord allow a renter to stay in a rental property indefinitely if they stop making the rent payment? Of course the answer is no, just as a mortgage company will not indefinitely allow an owner to stay in the property if they stop making their house payment.

However, it has been my observation that mortgage lenders have become much more patient than landlords in allowing the homeowner time to find new employment and catch up on their payments once they regain employment. So owning may actually be safer than renting in this economic environment. Mortgage companies do not want houses back in inventory and are often much slower to foreclose than in past years, while landlords know there are many more folks looking to rent than ever before, so they are becoming quick to evict those who get behind.

If a family has ever had the desire to own their own home, there may never be a better time. And in the words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “there is nothing to fear but fear itself.”

John Herzog is one of less than 350 Master Certified Mortgage Bankers designated by the Mortgage Bankers Association of America and holds their Master Faculty Fellow designation for their School of Mortgage Banking. He has taught continuing education classes for Realtors and Homebuilders throughout the southeastern states for over 20 years.

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A Midtown Montgomery house can send your kid (or grandkid) to college!

By Sandra Nickel

In 1984, I bought a townhouse in Woodley Park. Ever since then, the tenants have been making my payments by paying me rent. Sure, I have had to invest a few dollars along the way, but not much. Probably not over $5,000 total. If I sold the property today, I’d clear about $35,000. That’s a 700% return on my $5,000. Where else could I have made such a tremendous profit? Nowhere that I know of!

Midtown is full of great deals right now. For example, on Boultier in Old Cloverdale a 3 bedroom 2 bath home is offered at $99,900. It would rent easily for $900-$1,000 per month. Then there’s the house at 2133 Felder Terrace, also in Old Cloverdale, on the market at $100,000. It has rented in the past for $800 and the garage apartment out back brings $400 per month.

Midtown Montgomery residents wanting to invest in a property can obtain financing today at incredibly attractive rates—in the vicinity of 4% for a 15-year loan. Assuming a 20% down payment on that $100,000 house, the payment would be $591.75 for loan repayment and not more than another $200 per month for tax and insurance. Call it a total payment of $800 and rental income of $1,200. Even with money set aside for future repairs and vacancy and 10% of the rent paid for a professional property manager, the 2133 Felder Terrace house would still produce a positive cash flow each month AND would be paid off by tenants!

Imagine having a $100,000 paid-for house today. Wouldn’t that make a dandy dent in the cost of educating your college-age child! Or how’s about adding another $100,000 to your retirement funds…or your “trip around the world” fund…or whatever?

“But,” you say, “I don’t have $20,000 lying around for a down payment!” Good news here: you may have untapped resources. You can borrow from your 401k plan or a life insurance plan with cash value. Or how about getting those doting grandparents to partner with you, putting up the down payment as a “gift” that could then be repaid when the investment property is sold as Junior gets ready for college?

The point is that real estate is the only big-ticket investment you’ll ever be able to own that some else (tenants) will “buy” for you. Not stocks, not bonds, not mutual funds—only real estate. And the climate in Midtown Montgomery is perfect right now for you to chalk up a truly great buy on an investment property. Next time I’ll talk about how you can come out even better by being willing to get your hands dirty. Until then…

Sandra Nickel has been listing and selling residential real estate for over 29 years, most with an intense focus on Montgomery’s Midtown neighborhoods. Sandra serves on the Mid-Alabama Coalition for the Homeless, the Cloverdale Business Coalition, Historic Southview, the Volunteer and Information Center, Landmarks Foundation and her own neighborhood Garden District Preservation Association.

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Mortgage 101: After a Divorce

Part of living in Midtown Montgomery is finding the right living arrangements. And there’s a lot more to getting a historic home than just worrying about upkeep and maintenance. As such, we at MML are happy to be able to offer periodic posts about buying property or dealing with the issues surrounding real estate transactions.

By Charles Edmondson

In the 24 years I have been practicing law, I have on numerous occasions been confronted with the situation where a husband and wife are divorcing and one of the parties is awarded the marital residence with the obligation to continue making the mortgage payments post-divorce. Whenever this situation presents itself, it is important to understand what legal rights come into play and, of equal importance, those that do not.

Most married couples have a mortgage on their home. Typically, that money was borrowed in happier times — well before the couple began having marital difficulties. The parties have executed, among numerous other documents, a promissory note and the subject mortgage such that their residence serves as security for the note. By doing so, they are both jointly and severally liable to honor the debt. That is to say, a creditor could pursue one or both of the parties to collect payment.

When the divorce happens, the court may order that the residence be sold, but often one of the parties (the awarded party) is awarded the property along with the obligation to pay the mortgage. It is important to note that the court has no jurisdiction over the mortgage company — because it isn’t a party to the litigation. As such, the court can’t rewrite the terms of the mortgage loan and thereby relieve the one party who was not awarded the house (the non-awarded party) from liability for the debt. In addition, if the party that gets the house can’t make the mortgage payment, it can still end up hurting the party that didn’t get the house! The court’s order does not serve to insulate the non-awarded party (who remains on the contract) from potential negative credit implications in the event the awarded party fails to pay the mortgage or even make timely payments.

If possible, the non-awarded party should see to it that the divorce decree provides for the awarded party to “hold harmless and indemnify” the non-awarded party as to the obligation to make the mortgage payments. Again, although such a provision will not affect the rights of the mortgage company, such language will give rise to legal damages which the non-awarded party may seek from their former spouse should the latter default.

In addition, the non-awarded party should seek to have the divorce decree say that the awarded party’s mortgage debt can’t be discharged in bankruptcy (so that the non-awarded party can be further protected should their former spouse go that route).

In the best of circumstances, a divorce decree can require the awarded party to refinance the mortgage within a given period of time. It can otherwise provide policing terms should such refinance not take place — to include, but not be limited to, listing the property for sale and forfeiture of possession or even title by the awarded party in favor of the non-awarded party.

It is important to realize that the non-awarded party’s responsibility for the marital mortgage debt remains for as long as the mortgage is unpaid. This may go on for a long time and could potentially affect future credit opportunities.

So, like parents with kids, although you may be divorced, you still have something to talk about!

Charles Edmondson is a Montgomery attorney who focuses on real estate and property law.

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