Category Archives: Ask Betsy

Q. I’d like to put an offer on a house being sold at auction. How can I tell if any liens are on the property?

A. Many people do not realize the wealth of information publically available to them. You can search the Alachua County Clerk of Courts Public Records online and find numerous documents including liens, deeds, lis pendens, neighborhood restrictions, deeds and mortgages. In addition, the Alachua County Property Appraiser’s website allows you to get detailed housing and sale information and is searchable of name, address, neighborhood, zip code, size of parcel, land use, etc.

Q. I’m selling my house and have a satellite dish. What do I do with it?

A. It’s best to have this addressed in the offer stage so that all parties understand if it is staying or going. Note: Some companies do not want the dish back and will ask you to take it down and recycle it if the new owners do not care to continue service. If you take the dish down, you will need to have the entry holes repaired and replace any damaged shingles. (By the way, a satellite dish installed directly into your roof often negates your roof warranty.) You need to address this when you go under contract as it can become a point of contention during the walk-through if there is a misunderstanding. The need for such clarity also applies to free-standing sheds, trampolines, play sets, slides diving boards, chair lifts, man-made ponds, outdoor benches and fountains and other yard décor.

Q. I‘ve heard of occasions where a buyer has defaulted on a contract, but what happens is a seller defaults? Let’s say they change their mind and want to stay in their house even after they signed an offer and are under contract.

A. While extremely rare, this can happen. In this case, the buyer can sign a cancellation agreement and receive their deposit back or try to resolve the issue with the seller. If they cannot, they can opt to go to mediation and try to resolve the difference. In mediation, each party pays for their own costs. If still not resolved, the matter can go to litigation and the prevailing party is entitled to recover costs and fees from the non-prevailing party.