What are Helical Piers?

Helical piers are ‘giant screws’ that are driven into the ground to provide foundation support to many different type of structures.  The purpose of a helical pier is to transfer the load of the structure through the unsuitable soil to a stronger, more suitable soil deeper in the earth.  They can be used in foundation repair or new construction projects.

A helical pier is a steel pipe piling with multiple twisted helix plates welded to the lead section of the piling.  A typical helical can have one to three helix plates ranging from 8″ to 16″ inches in diameter.    They are hydraulically driven into the ground to reach the depth of the load-bearing underground strata.

An average 1500-2000 sq ft home may cost $20,000-$30,000.


What is an Opinion of Title?

An opinion of title is an attorney’s professional opinion of the condition of title.  This is based on examination of the recorded documents pertaining to the property.    If at a later date, the title to the subject property is found defective, the Buyer may find it difficult to be reimbursed for damages unless the Attorney was negligent in the search.

Typically, an Attorney, acting as a closing agent, will order title insurance just as a title company does.

What is a FICO Score?

FICO is the most commonly used credit score today and is named after the company that developed it, Fair Isaac Corp.   FICO scores range from 400 to 900 and the lower the score, the great the risk of default.  credit score

FICO score consists of the following components:

  • 35 percent of the score is determined by payment histories on credit accounts.

  • 30 percent is based on the amount of debt outstanding with all creditors.

  • 15 percent is produced on the basis of how long the borrower has been a credit user.

  • 10 percent is comprised of very recent history and whether the borrower has been actively seeking loans or credit lines in the past months.

  • 10 percent is calculated from the mix of credit held, including installment loans (car loans), leases, mortgages, credit cards, and so on


What is the Purpose of the Fair Credit Reporting Act?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, is designed to promote accuracy and ensure the privacy of the information used in consumer reports.

What are the Requirements for Communities with the Status “Housing for Older Persons”?

Certain housing for older persons is exempt from the familial status protection under the Fair Housing Act.  Requirements for a community with the status of “housing for older persons” are as follows:

  1. The housing must be designed and operated to assist elderly persons and is intended for, and solely occupied by, persons 62 years of age or older, or

  2. The housing is intended and operated for occupancy by persons 55 years of age or older who meet these requirements:  Heritage Lake sign

    • At least 80 percent of the occupied units are occupied by at least one person 55 years of age or older.
    • The facility or community publishes and adheres to policies and procedures that demonstrate its intent to in fact be a provider of housing for older persons.
    • The facility or community complies with rules established by HUD for verification of occupancy.


What is the Rescission Period for a Condominium Unit?

If you are looking to purchase a condominium, be aware of the rescission period.  For a brand new condominium, a Buyer may rescind a purchase contract within 15 days.  For a resale condominium unit, a Buyer may rescind within three business days.   This time period begins when the Buyer signs the contract or is given the required condominium documents, whichever is later. 345 Bayshore Blvd

The required documents for a condominium unit are:

  • the declaration of condominiums
  • articles of incorporation
  • bylaws
  • rules and regulations
  • the association’s question and answer sheet
  • a copy of the most recent year-end financial statement
  • a governance form describing the rights and responsibilities of associations and condominium owners.

What is Polybutylene?

Polybutylene (PB) is a plastic resin that was used for water supply pipes for about 20 years, starting in 1978.   It was cheap, easy to install, and substituted for copper pipe in nearly 25 percent of all homes built during that period.   Due to the low cost and ease of installation, polybutylene piping systems were viewed as “the pipe of the future” and were commonly found in the “Sun Belt” where construction was heavy through the 1980′s-1990′s and is also common in the Mid Atlantic and Northwest Pacific staPolybutylene pipestes.

The pipes are gray or white with dull finish.  PB was also used for underground water mains, which are usually blue, gray, or black.

The problem with polybutylene pipes is that they often sprout leaks inside walls or ceilings, requiring extensive repairs and a complete re-plumbing of the house.   There are reasons why the pipes fail.   First chlorine and other oxidants are leached into the pipes which will react with the piping causing them to become brittle.  As the pipes become brittle,  micro-fractures result reducing the structural integrity of the pipe.  Second, the pipes may have been installed improperly.  Whichever the case, the system becomes weak and may fail without warning causing damage to the building structure and personal property.

Home buyers should ask their home inspector to check the plumbing lines close to the water heater or in the attic to determine whether they are polybutylene and to check the type of fittings.

What Does CERCLA Stand For?

CERCLA stands for the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.   It is extremely important to landowners, brokers, developers, and operators.  CERCLA assigns potential liability for the cleanup of hazardous substances to any “potentially responsible person” (PRP) including:

  • present owners and operators of the contaminated site
  • persons who owned or operated the site at the time hazardous substances were located on the site
  • persons who generated hazardous substances on the site, and
  • persons who transported hazardous substances to the site


What Does it Mean to be “Under Water”?

Many times you may hear that a homeowner is “under water“?      If the current market value of your house is less than the amount you still owe on the mortgage, then you are “under water”.   For example if the current market value of your house is $150,000 and you owe $250,000 on the mortgage, you could not make a profit.   This is when some homeowners consider a short sale.

Is the Seller’s Real Property Disclosure Form Required?

No.  The Seller’s Property Disclosure form is not a legal requirement.   However, it is strongly recommended that Florida Real Estate Agents have their Sellers use the form.   Sellers have a duty to disclosure any property defects they know about that would materially affect the property’s value to the buyer and that aren’t readily observable to the buyer.