Betterments are a boring topic until they mess up your sale

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A Betterment. What is it you ask? I am not an attorney so I am not going to get all technical and legal on you. I am a Realtor who is trying to find a house for a Buyer and make sense of the listing language ie “Buyer to ASSUME the Seller’s betterment.

In this particular case the municipal betterment is a lien placed on the property, maybe 25 years ago or so to pay for the sewer lines in the road.

The total is paid by the owner over time similar to a loan. When the property is sold the Seller could pay this off. Often the amount that remains is substantial enough to cause a Buyer to take pause. i.e. a few thousand dollars. Over time, the total is usually paid a couple of times a year in the tax bill in palatable amounts. Is it reasonable to expect the Buyer to be able to come up with the extra money pay off the property lien? They need their down payment, closing costs, and now a few more thousand dollars? In fact unless it’s spelled out in the standard P&S that the Buyer is to assume or pay it (the way I read) the standard form has the Seller paying it but certainly seek attorney advice on this.

In the current “Seller’s” Real Estate market we are seeing the wording “Buyer to ‘assume’ the betterment.” Is this even possible?

This municipal lien (betterment) is ahead of even the mortgage, meaning has priority over even the mortgage.

So who has the “ASSume” decision here? Years ago one South Shore town would release the lien and then put it back on. They don’t allow that now because too many “fell through the cracks” I was told today.

I have been told by 2 attorneys this week that it’s up to the lender whether they allow the buyer to assume the betterment.

How do you ascertain this answer when you write an offer?

Can the Sellers just agree to pay off the betterment at closing please and make everyone’s life easier?

I do have a question for the lenders? Could a closing cost credit be used to pay off a betterment? Maybe a lender will read this and advise.

Thank you.