Category: Real Estate Law

  • Surplus Funds from Deeds of Trust Foreclosures

    By Thomas L. Dickson, Esq. In a highly-charged real estate market, people losing their homes to deeds of trust foreclosure may be surprised to learn they are entitled to cash after the trustee’s sale. Despite the unpleasant fact a foreclosure is taking place, often the equity gained by the fated property substantially exceeds the amount owed to the foreclosing party. By law, these funds ultimately belong to the grantor, i.e., the debtor to the deed of trust. Debtors in these situations must check their elation, however, because the surplus funds must run a gauntlet of potential creditors before reaching the grantor. Foreclosure Procedure The Deed of Trust foreclosure procedure is governed by RCW 61.24 et. seq. Under RCW 61.24.080(3), if there i

  • Zoning, Nuisance, and Barking Dogs

    One barking dog is private nuisance, many is a public one.  Under either circumstance, counties and cities have remedies for these problems.  Complaints are made to the Code Enforcement of the local government, and to Animal Control.  If there are questions on licensing of animals, the auditor of each county may be source to challenge eligibility.  Nearly all local governments have Internet forms for lodging formal complaints. The denser the zoning in a locality the less chance a citizen has in abating the nuisance.  In turn, less-dense areas (suburban residential, single-family residential, or moderate family residential), are where barking nuisances are most noticeable and governed.   Through the Growth Management Act of 1991, local government

  • Judicial Foreclosure and Nonjudicial Foreclosure: the Differences

    By Thomas L. Dickson, Esq. Used together, a promissory note and a deed of trust embody the most common type of mortgage. The deed of trust is recorded on the borrower’s title securing the note and prioritizing the loan’s position on title. There are only two ways to foreclose on this mortgage: judicially and nonjudicially. Judicial Foreclosure and Redemption A judicial foreclosure is processed through the courts by filing a complaint for a judgment on the note which accelerates the unpaid balance, and orders the sheriff to sell the property at auction. Because the lender obtains a judgment, the remedies can be any type of collection, foreclosure being one of them. When the sale occurs, interest from default until the date of the auction, costs,

  • Deciphering the “Lis Pendens”

    By Thomas L. Dickson, Esq. Seattle real estate attorneys, real estate brokers, and escrow companies deal with the "lis pendens" from time to time, and many people are not sure what it means. The Latin definition is simply: notice of a pending lawsuit. The Revised Code of Washington defines "lis pendens" as an "instrument having the effect of clouding the title to real property, however, named, including consensual commercial lien, common-law lien, commercial contractual lien, or demand for performance of a public office lien." RCW 4.28.328 (1)(a). Is recording a lis pendens, thus, a violation of the owner’s procedural due process, i.e., the right to notice and an opportunity to be heard? Not according to Cranwell v. Mesec, 77 Wn. App. 90, 8

  • Real Property and “Grandfather Rights” aka Nonconforming Use

    By Thomas L. Dickson, Esq. We often hear the expression, “grandfather rights,” when someone’s property is not affected by a land use change while nearly everyone else’s is. In legal parlance, land use attorneys know the term is “Nonconforming Use,” defined as a use “existing lawfully before the rezone of the surrounding area and continues or is ‘grandfathered’ after the rezone, provided the use is not thereafter interrupted for longer than a prescribed period, generally a year.” Land Use and Environmental Law, Ch. 24, Part Two, Washington Lawyer’s Practice Manual. Nonconforming use is not limited solely to zoning issues, but to changes in a large spectrum of administrative regulations. “The right to continue a noncon

  • How Contractor’s Registration affects Construction Liens on Real Property Development

    By Thomas L. Dickson, Esq. Construction liens are an important part of Seattle real estate law and other high-growth areas of Western Washington. The lien, also called a “mechanic's lien,” represents a pre-judicial claim against title, and the owner of the land on whom the lien is recorded cannot sell the property or obtain a loan thereon until the lien is satisfied, removed, or otherwise accommodated. The Effect of a Construction Lien. Under RCW 60.04.021, “any person furnishing labor, professional services, materials, or equipment for the improvement of real property shall have a lien upon the improvement for the contract price of labor, professional services, materials, or equipment furnished at the instance of the owner, or the agent or

  • The Home Affordable Modification Program can Often Stop Foreclosure

    In response to the sub-prime mortgage crisis of the latter part of the last decade, the United States government instituted several programs to help homeowners and tightened regulatory controls on the mortgage industry. One the programs created was the Home Affordable Modification Program,1 often referred to as “HAMP.” The program encourages lenders to lower homeowners’ monthly mortgage payments in order to allow them to stay in their homes. In addition, it has the added benefit of being able to stop an impending foreclosure by simply applying for the program, even if only temporarily in some cases. Under the terms of the law, if homeowner applies for a HAMP modification and there is not foreclosure sale scheduled within a week, the lender must st

  • Should I Hire an Attorney to Assist with my Residential Real Estate Closing?

    Unlike in many other states, people who are buying or selling a home are not required to have an attorney present at a real estate closing. This is not to say, however, that it is not a good idea to have an attorney thoroughly review the transaction in which you are about to enter, especially as many real estate deals involve hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars. Some of the reasons that it is advisable to retain an attorney before closing on a piece of real estate are detailed below. For specific information regarding your case, call the Dickson Frohlich today at 253-572-1000. Your attorney is the only party that is “on your side” There are many parties to a typical real estate transaction – the buyer, the seller, real estate agent

  • How Attorneys Can Protect Financially Distressed Homeowners from Mortgage Modification Scams

    Homeowners often face financial hardships that threaten their ability to make their mortgage payments on time. Because the family home constitutes the most significant asset for many households, the prospect of foreclosure can be an alarming possibility. Fortunately, a range of options including loan modification programs provide viable options that have enabled many people to become current and keep their residence. The glut of foreclosures in recent years also has prompted opportunists to exploit distressed homeowners with loan modification scams. Given this trend, the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) has advised homeowners to exercise caution when relying on a service provider to work with their lender to modify their home

  • Rights of Tacoma Tenants Following Foreclosure

    While the real estate market has turned around to some extent in Washington, the number of foreclosures in Tacoma continues to outpace other cities throughout the state. Approximately one in every 685 homes was subject to a foreclosure notice in November 2015, according to data from Since many foreclosed residential properties are occupied by tenants, our Tacoma eviction lawyers often receive questions about the rights of tenants following a foreclosure sale. The eviction process (also called “unlawful detainer”) differs when a property has been sold following foreclosure as opposed to eviction for non-payment of rent. Because both property owners and tenants need to understand these differences, this blog discusses the rights of ten