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Condominium and PUD Ownership

Builders, in an effort to combat the dual problem of an increasing population and a declining availability of prime land, are increasingly turning to common interest developments (CIDs) as a means to maximize land use and offer Homebuyers convenient, affordable housing.

The two most common forms of common interest developments in many states are Condominiums and Planned Unit Developments, often referred to as PUDs. The essential characteristics shared by these two forms of ownership are:

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Living Trusts

Estate planners often recommend "Living Trusts" as a viable option when contemplating the manner in which to hold title to real property. When a property is held in a Living Trust, title companies have particular requirements to facilitate the transaction. While not comprehensive, following are answers to many commonly asked questions. If you have questions that are not answered below, your title company representative may be able to assist you, however, one may wish to seek legal counsel.

Who are the parties to a Trust?

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Common Ways of Holding Title

How Should I Take Ownership of the Property I am Buying?

Real property has become increasingly more valuable and the question of how parties can take ownership of their property has gained greater importance. The form of ownership taken -- the vesting of title -- will determine who may sign various documents involving the property and future rights of the parties to the transaction. These rights involve such matters as: real property taxes, income taxes, inheritance and gift taxes, transferability of title and exposure to creditor's claims. Also, how title is vested can have significant probate implications in the event of death.

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Underground Heating Oil Tanks

Underground heating oil tanks can pose many potential problems to both home buyers and sellers. They have been the source of many environmental problems such as contamination of surrounding soil and ground water.

Leaks are caused by the rust inside underground tanks, or by an electrical condition sparked by electric utility lines.

Buyers should have the tank inspected to make sure that it is structurally sound.

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Radon Gas

Radon is a colorless and odorless radioactive gas that has been estimated to cause 5,000 to 20,000 lung cancer deaths yearly. It is second only to smoking as a cause of lung cancer. It has been estimated that nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the US has elevated radon levels.

Radon is produced when small amounts of uranium and radium in soil and rocks decay. Radon gas will also decay into smaller and radioactive particles that can be inhaled into the lungs where it can damage cells and cause lung cancer.

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Lead Poisoning

Lead poisoning is a serious problem which can lead to adverse health problems. In children, high levels of lead can cause damage to the brain and nervous system, behavioral and learning problems, slow growth, and hearing problems. In adults, lead poisoning can cause reproductive problems, high blood pressure, digestive problems, nerve disorder, memory and concentration problems, and muscle and joint pain.

Lead poisoning is especially a problem in cities with older buildings. Typically, lead is present in the paint from older buildings, in the water supply, and in the environment from cars and buses. Preventing lead poisoning in large cities, where there is so much possibility for exposure is both difficult and expensive. Federal programs have attempted to address this problem.

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Environmental Issues

When purchasing a piece of property, it is important to be aware of any environmental liabilities associated with it. For example, you should find out if there are any registered underground tanks within several miles of the property, any known contaminated properties in the neighborhood, or any property owners who have been fined by the government for failing to meet environmental safety standards.

Before, it took a costly site investigation for the information, but now there are online environmental databases available at a fraction of the cost. Anyone can access reports on otherwise hard to detect environmental issues. With these databases, it is possible to obtain a listing of hazards near a property, or spills and violations attributed to businesses nearby.

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