Febrero. 2018
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State laws vary. Utility companies have rights to use easements, disclosed or non-disclosed, over private property and are within their rights to use your land. An easement is a legal right to use someone else's land for a particular purpose. For example, the municipal water company may have an easement to run water pipes under your property. Your name is on the deed (you're the title holder) and you still own the property, but the water company has the right to use a part of it, for its pipes. Easements are sometimes in writing and referred to in property deeds or title papers prepared by a title insurance company or attorney. Easements are part and parcel of the land they affect. They don't change when the property changes hands. Subsequent owners are obliged to let whoever owns the easement use the property. Whoever owns the property may not interfere with the purpose of a legal easement. If, for example, the electric company has wires strung across its right of way, you cannot take them down or block their path. A property owner who does interfere with an easement can be liable to the easement owner for any damage he causes.

Virtually every property with electricity, phone, TV cable, public water, sewer, and storm drain utility service is subject to one or more easements in gross. Most such easements are recorded in the public records against each property title affected.

An easement in gross has a servient tenement, but no dominant tenement. Sometimes such easements were not properly recorded. If the easement in gross is obvious, such as for overhead power lines, it is hard for the property owner to deny awareness. But underground easements in gross, such as for water, sewer and gas pipes, might not be obvious. To avoid unexpected surprises, property buyers should insist on receiving an owner's title insurance policy at the time of purchase. If an underground easement in gross is later discovered, but it was not disclosed in the owner's title insurance policy, the title insurer may be liable to the property owner for damages.

For example suppose you decide to build a swimming pool in your backyard. As the contractor is digging he discovers a previously undisclosed city sewer through the middle of your backyard. If the city's sewer easement was properly recorded but the title insurer failed to discover and disclose it the title insurer is liable to the property owner for either the cost of moving the sewer pipe or the diminished value of the property.

Probably the most common kind of easement is the one that has been given in writing to a utility company or a city, but it may not have been disclosed by your title company. Utility easements are sometimes described in a property deed or certificate of title as "those certain utility easements as set out and shown on the map and plat of record in such-and-such a book on page something-or-other." The existence of these easements doesn't have much day-to-day effect. You can plant on the property, live on it, even build on it, as long as you don't interfere with the utility's use of the easement. When an easement is underground--for instance, a water pipe easement (and increasingly, electric and phone line easements)- the land above it may be used. But again, you may not interfere with the purpose of the underground easement. An example of interference would be placing too much weight on the property if pipes are not built to withstand it. Utility companies rarely bother property owners but if an occasional nightmare comes along, such as the property dug up for underground repair, the work is usually done with care. And if a utility company comes in and harms your property unnecessarily you may be able to sue the company if it won't pay for the damages.

If you want to know if there are undisclosed easements located on your property call the utility company. Or you can go to the county land records office or city hall and ask a clerk to show you a map if there exist easement locations. A survey of the property will also show the location of any utility easements.

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The Environmental Protection Agency has found high levels of lead and arsenic in the yards of homes where some Pueblo families have lived for generations.

News5 was there as testing began back in May on 12 Superfund site properties.

"Everything just looks nice on the property and it's just hard for me to believe that there's actually a contamination there," Albert Galich, an Eilers homeowner said.

This is where Albert Galich grew up. News5 first introduced you to him in May. Four months later, the news is surreal, high levels of both lead and arsenic.

"My mother lived in this home pretty much her whole life and she lived to 93 years old so it's kinda hard for me, for this all to sink in saying that yeah, the soil is contaminated," Galich said.

His property is one of 12 part of EPA's pilot sampling series and not the only one with poisoned soil.

In fact, all of the soil tested by the EPA has both lead and arsenic.

Half of the properties had high levels of lead and the other half had medium levels of lead.

As for arsenic, five homes had high levels, another five had medium levels and two homes had low levels.

"Everything grows really well, the grass is growing green and beautiful, we garden and my vegetables grow very well, so it's just hard to believe," he said.

A destructive legacy from the century old ruins of the Colorado Smelter Site long gone. Now, an EPA Superfund site.

"It's something that we're using sort of as a beginning point for characterization," Sabrina Forrest, an EPA Project Manager said.

In other words, we're also a long way from a clean up plan.

"We'll be working on that for the next year or two, I imagine. We're hoping that by next fall, we'll have enough data to have a clean up level and then start being able to determine where cleanups might be needed," Forrest said.

But homeowners like Galich say it's taking too long.

"If it took that long to do 12, how long is it going to take to do 150?" he said.

Fear and frustration combined for homeowners who are forced to wait.

"If there is going to be a cleanup, is it going to be in my lifetime? I don't even know that," he said.

The EPA plans to test 300 more properties by the end of 2016. That testing will begin after a sampling plan is developed later this fall.
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Raleigh, N.C. For Wake County homeowners, its that time again.

The county is poised to conduct a real estate reassessment in 2016, a process done every eight years to determine the value at which residential and commercial properties should be taxed.

In the last reassessment in 2008, the average increase in property value was 43 percent. Some homes inside the Beltline went up as much as 73 percent.

The Wake County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday agreed to hold a public hearing Sept. 21 about the schedule of values, which is an up-close look at how assessors determine what a home is worth.

Teams of assessors have been criss-crossing the county to evaluate more than 350,000 pieces of property. They consider everything from square footage to building materials.

Real estate agents, who always keep a close eye on reassessments, said double-digit increases are likely again, depending on a propertys location. Cary, Apex, Holly Springs and other areas in the western and southwestern part of the county are most likely to go up in value.

I think its going to come down to the land values as well, said Christina Valkanoff of Christina Valkanoff Realty Group. In certain areas, land values have really skyrocketed.

She pointed to the North Hills area as an example of growth.

Commissioners likely will decided in the spring whether they will adopt a revenue neutral policy, which means they would lower the county property tax rate to offset higher real estate values. Doing so helps ease the financial burden on homeowners.

Homeowners should get their revaluation forms in the mail in December, and they will have a chance to appeal.

Durham County is also slated for a real estate reassessment in 2016, and Orange County will conduct it in 2018.

Johnston County is set for a reassessment in 2019, while Chatham and Lee counties conduct theirs every four years.
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Watching the property market is a past time for many Singaporeans, most of whom own their own home. With China's recent devaluation of the yuan, we asked ARA Asset Management group CEO John Lim, who is also one of Singapore's 50 richest based on Forbes' 2014 list, in an email interview Thursday how he sees the property market faring.

1. What's your outlook for the Singapore residential property market?

The residential property market should see prices continuing to move downwards in 2016. The government has not made any move to ease its property cooling measures and according to URA data, 2015 and 2016 will see over 20,000 units of private residential properties completed per year, nearly twice the yearly average between 1996 and 2012. Together with the number of public housing units, and slowing demand due to tighter foreign immigrant policy and increase in interest rates, there would be short to medium term demand and supply imbalance.

2. China has just effectively devalued its currency, how do you think that will affect property prices, REITs in Singapore?

In the last few years, property cooling measures by the government has done well to curb speculation, especially from foreign investors so I dont think that the devaluation of Chinas currency will have much impact on the property prices in Singapore.

S-REITs with significant geographical exposure in China will most likely be impacted in terms of forex translation in asset valuations and earnings. Thus far, the PBoCs surprise lowering of the Rmb reference rate is negative for property stocks with China exposure, as the majority of them do not hedge their incomes and balance sheets. However, falling interest rates that are likely to follow in China might compress cap rates and support asset valuations over time.

3. What would you say are the biggest challenges for property investors in today's environment?

In Singapore, the governments property cooling measures likethe Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR), stamp duties and resale levies amidst a whole slew of other measures implementedsince 2009 have been generally effective in curbing property speculation in Singapore. The government does not look like it will ease these measures in the near future, so while prices have gone down slightly, it is still not a good time for investors to put their money in the residential properties sector in Singapore

One of the challenges would be the more onerous mortgage servicing payments by property investors in an environment of rising interest rates going forward. Property investors should factor in higher key rates for their own sensitivity analysis.

4. What are the brightest property investment opportunities both in Singapore and the region? Why?

Property investment usually requires a huge capital outlay which may not be accessible to most. Properties are also typically mid- to long-term investments. There are other financial instruments like equities which require much less capital and investors can choose to invest within their means comfortably.

Real estate funds such as REITs are a good blend of the two, as they allow investors to own a share of properties of different types and classes. The key benefits of REITs are that they enable investors to participate in the ownership of real estate with a small capital outlay and flexibility, as REITs can be traded easily in equity capital market. REITs are also professionally managed with assets under safe custody of the Trustee. Typically, REITs in Singapore, known as S-REITs hold a portfolio of properties, so investors benefit from diversification as REITs can own a number of properties in various locations. Currently, S-REITs enjoy tax transparency as long as more than 90% of the taxable income is distributed. In addition, REITs provide a good hedge against inflation. Those looking to invest in properties can consider putting their investments in REITs.

Mr Lim, who has more than 30 years of experience in the real estate industry, will be speaking at INVEST FAIR 2015, which will run from 15th to 16th August, 10am-7pm, at level 4 Exhibition Hall 403 and 404 of Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre.
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