Articles Posted in Real Estate Law

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In 2002, defendant Richard Hardie borrowed money from Brattleboro Savings & Loan Association in order to purchase a vacation home in Weathersfield. The loan was secured by a mortgage on the property and included a "second home rider" clause, asserting that the property was not a primary residence. Hardie was married to intervenor-appellee Lisa Mangini at the time, but was the sole owner of the property, and Mangini did not sign either the promissory note or the mortgage. Hardie twice refinanced the property without Mangini's participation, both with second home riders. By 2007, Hardie and Mangini's marriage was deteriorating. Mangini left the couple's New Jersey home and moved into the Weathersfield property. In 2008, Mangini filed for divorce in Vermont. In her divorce filing, Mangini claimed that the property had become her primary residence as of May 2007. Also in the divorce filing, Mangini requested "an award of the Weathersfield home and the adjoining land either without any encumbrances, or, in the alternative, that [Hardie] be responsible for paying off and releasing the mortgage[] to [Brattleboro Savings]." While Mangini was occupying the property and the divorce was pending, Hardie refinanced the mortgage on the Weathersfield property. The 2008 refinancing was completed without Mangini's participation, and Hardie again claimed that the property was a second home. In 2011, Brattleboro Savings commenced a foreclosure action on the property, naming only Hardie as a defendant. Despite not being named in the foreclosure case, Mangini filed an answer asserting an affirmative defense that she had established a homestead interest in the property prior to the 2008 mortgage, and that therefore the 2008 mortgage was "inoperative to convey" her homestead interest. Brattleboro Savings filed two motions for summary judgment, one requesting a foreclosure judgment against Hardie and the second seeking judgment against Mangini on her homestead claim. Mangini filed a cross-motion for summary judgment, detailing for the first time her claim that she had acquired an equitable interest in the property by her divorce filing. Brattleboro Savings appealed a superior court's decision denying its motions for summary judgment and granting Mangini's cross-motion for summary judgment, finding that Mangini held title to the Weathersfield property free and clear of a mortgage to plaintiff. The superior court ruled that the mortgage was inoperative because Hardie, mortgaged the property without the participation of Mangini in violation of 27 V.S.A. section 141(a). Upon review of the matter, the Supreme Court reversed the grant of Mangini's motion for summary judgment and the denial of Brattleboro Saving's motions for summary judgment, and remanded the case for further proceedings.View "Brattleboro Savings & Loan Assn. v. Hardie, et al." on Justia Law

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The issue before the Supreme Court in this case stemmed from a dispute over title to an old railroad bed adjacent to defendants' property that plaintiff purchased with the goal of creating a public recreational trail. Defendants challenged the trial court's determination that plaintiff acquired a valid fee simple interest in the property, asserting that title either reverted to them when the railroad abandoned the line or vested in them through adverse possession. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's determination. View "Old Railroad Bed, LLC v. Marcus, et al." on Justia Law

Posted in: Real Estate Law

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Appellants Amherst Realty, LLC, Richard Madowitz, and the personal representatives of the Estate of Douglas Kohl appealed a superior court's grant of summary judgment to The Woods at Killington Owners’ Association on Amherst Realty’s claim of breach of contract based on the Association’s alleged interference with its development rights at The Woods at Killington. The Association cross-appealed the superior court’s decision granting summary judgment to Amherst Realty on the Association’s consumer fraud counterclaim. This controversy the center of this case concerned the consequences of the attempt and ultimate failure to build 40 units at The Woods. But finding no reason to reverse the superior court on either parties' claims, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Amherst Realty, LLC v. The Woods at Killington Owners’ Association, Inc." on Justia Law

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Appellee taxpayer Trevor Jenkins owned and lived on property in the Town of Milton. He failed to pay property taxes for the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 tax years. The Town mailed him three delinquent tax notices, in June 2008, June 2009, and January 2010, respectively, advising him to take additional steps to avoid a tax sale. The notices were sent to taxpayer by first-class mail. He denied receiving them, and the notices were not returned to the Town. In 2010, a notice of tax sale was sent via registered mail, return receipt requested. Nearly two weeks before the tax sale, the notice sent to taxpayer by registered mail was returned to the Town’s attorney unclaimed after two attempts at delivery. The Town proceeded with the sale and Loren and Kathryn Hogaboom purchased taxpayer’s property at auction. On the day following the tax sale, the Town’s attorney sent a letter by first-class mail informing taxpayer that his property had been sold in a tax sale, he had one year from the date of sale to redeem the property, and interest would accrue on the purchase amount. This letter was not returned to the Town’s attorney. Taxpayer did not redeem the property during the one-year period, and the Town issued a deed to the purchasers. Purchasers filed a complaint for ejectment in 2011, seeking a writ of possession for the property. Taxpayer admitted his failure to pay taxes but denied ever having received notice of the tax sale. He filed a counterclaim against purchasers and a third-party complaint against the Town, seeking a declaratory judgment setting aside the tax sale as void. Purchasers and the Town both filed motions for summary judgment, contending that notice to taxpayer satisfied the requirements of due process. The Superior Court concluded taxpayer's due process rights were violated because of the undelivered notices. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Hogaboom v. Jenkins v. Town of Milton" on Justia Law