A little about Synthia Melton
Synthia Melton is a co-founder and Managing Partner of Dimension Law Group. Synthia’s practice focuses on Commercial and Residential Real Estate, including Landlord-Tenant matters, Business Law, and Estate Planning and Probate. Synthia works primarily with real estate investors and small business owners on matters involving complex transactional and litigation matters.
For the last three years, Synthia was named a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers, an award given to less than 2.5% of lawyers in the state. Synthia’s background and experience as an landlord, investor, entrepreneur, and attorney allow her to bring a unique approach to understanding the needs of her clients and offer create alternatives and solutions to navigate the complexities of our legal system.
Synthia Melton can be reached at (206) 973-3500, [email protected], and www.dimensionlaw.com.
Questions for Synthia Melton
A. Tell us your background and why you chose to become a real estate attorney?
1. Do you see more cases of contract disputes between investors and contractors or investors and homeowners/sellers, or between partners in a RE deal?
2. Do you get calls from RE brokers in regards to transaction issue, like Earnest Money disputes?
3. What are the top 2 contract disputes you see that involves a RE investor?
4. What is the #1 piece of advice you have for real estate investors to avoid contract disputes?
5. Are there certain contract terms in WA that must be in every contract? For example, as a RE broker, we must use a Legal Description in all purchase & sale contracts. Is there state required language that must be included in a contract between investor & general contractor?
6. What are other tips you would give a real estate investor to avoid contract disputes
7. Which are the toughest types of evictions that you see investors deal with?
7. What is the average legal cost (range) for common contract dispute situations you see come across your desk on a weekly basis?
8. Has your firm ever prepared a Distressed Home Consultant Agreement?
9. Have you ever had any investor clients get fined or reprimanded by the WA Real Estate Commission? If so, for what?
Joe Bauer: Welcome to the Seattle Investor’s Club podcast where we talk about the nuts and bolts of real estate investing. My name is Joe Bauer and I’m here with my cohost, Julie Clark. Julie, how are you doing today?
Julie Clark: I’m good, good, good! What’s goin’ on? Where you at?
Joe Bauer: Oh, I’m in beautiful Fresno right now.
Julie Clark: The reason why, everybody we ask Joe where’s he’s at, is because Joe is on the road full time for what? A year … who knows? Open ended. And he’s riding up in his van which you guys can see if you follow Facebook. Is it called ‘The Vantastic Life,’ right?
Joe Bauer: There you go.
Julie Clark: Vantastic Life. It’s pretty awesome. Pretty awesome stuff and fun to follow along. So we never really know where Joe is until he tells us. So you’re in Fresno. I don’t know if I would of predicted that as your answer today.
Joe Bauer: Well, Fresno because I’ve got to go hit the airport tomorrow to come fly back and hang out with you for the weekend, so-
Julie Clark: Oh, hey. That’s right. Seattle Investor’s Club meeting this weekend, everybody. Come join us. It’s gonna be a good topic. Talking about Title and Escrow 101. You think you might know all the answers, but I promise you you don’t. And the eloquent mystery guest, cause I’m not sure if we’re allowed to say his name or not, what’d we call him on that podcast?
Joe Bauer: The Dude.
Julie Clark: Dude. The Dude will be joining us. If you’re listening this is probably after the Dude has joined us so I hope you enjoyed it. How ’bout that?
Julie Clark: Well, over here, up in the Seattle area, at least for us, it is the last week of school. Some of you may know I have twin third grade year old girls, third grade girls. So, pretty exciting stuff, wrapping up third grade tomorrow. They get out at 10:30am. But what’s even more exciting is that we’re all dropping the kids off at about 8:15, and then bunch of moms are headed back over to my house and we are going to drink Mimosas and eat quiche until we have to pick them up at 10:30 in the morning tomorrow.
Joe Bauer: Yeah, yeah.
Julie Clark: Yep. That’s how we throw it down over here. We don’t waste any time. We party in the morning as needed, so. Gotta kick it off right. That’s how we have to deal with it because we have all our little monsters coming home for the summer. So, dang. Well I look forward to seeing you. I guess that would be not tomorrow but the next day, on Saturday, Joe. Safe travels.
Joe Bauer: Yeah, and if anybody has not been to Sequoia National Park, I highly recommend it. It’s one of my favorites so far. Really cool.
Julie Clark: That was where you guys were just at, right?
Joe Bauer: Yep. Really big trees. Like redwoods but not redwoods.
Julie Clark: Spectacular. Well, speaking of kids and … I’m trying to find a good transition to announce our rock star, should we call her a super lawyer? You let us know. Synthia, are you there? Synthia Melton.
Synthia Melton: I am here. I guess you could call me a super lawyer, cause I have been on the super lawyer’s list for the last three years, but-
Julie Clark: Heck, yeah!
Joe Bauer: Oh, hey.
Julie Clark: Hey.
Synthia Melton: Thank you guys so much for having me on. This is exciting. I’m happy to chat with you today.
Julie Clark: I’ve been on a list for the last three years. But we don’t want to talk about what list that is. So I’m not on any list I don’t know about. Yeah, super list, super lawyer. Awesome.
Synthia Melton: It’s one of those weird lists. 3% of attorneys, you have to be under the age of 40. There’s all these requirements. But your peers vote you in. So, it’s kind of cool.
Julie Clark: That is cool. And that’s why you’re joining us today because we know that you’ve got all the nuggets, a lot of nuggets that us real estate investors, not only investors but agent investors, contractors, landlords, all that stuff. Today’s going to be a good deep dive into … I guess we’re gonna call it contract disputes. But knowing us we’ll get off tangent, and we’ll see what else comes up. Sound good to you guys?
Synthia Melton: Yeah. Sounds good.
Joe Bauer: Yeah, yeah. Definitely.
Julie Clark: Sounds good. Well, Joe, kick us off.
Joe Bauer: Cool. Well, Synthia, we are excited to have you on the show. Thank you so much for making the time. And we’d love to hear what your background is and why you became a real estate attorney.
Julie Clark: Well tell us the name of your firm first. So we get that out there. So everybody can look you up while they’re listening.
Synthia Melton: So, my firm is called Dimension Law Group and that’s D-I-M-E-S-I-O-N Law Group. And our main office is in Tukwila, Washington, so Southcenter. Pretty central to Peterson King and all the courts that we need to go to. But we are an all female-owned and ran firm. And that’s pretty cool. I love our firm. I have a partner, Julie Martiniello. And we do primarily real estate, business, estate planning, and probate.
Synthia Melton: Since we are lucky enough to have just some incredible clients, most of our clients are real estate investors. Whether it’s commercial or residential, sort of small to mid-size. So we’re able to help them really be able to sort of set up their business structures. Whether it’s corporations, LLCs, whatever it is, real estate contracts, disputes. A lot of landlord/tenant eviction work as well. And then helping plan for their future. You’ve got all these properties, if you’re buying homes, what are you going to do with them? Sort of some tax planning about passing it on to your kids, protecting it in trust. And then probate as well.
Julie Clark: That’s awesome.[crosstalk 00:06:30] Pretty much everything you said is everything that we all need. No doubt about that. And I think you guys all know that everybody needs to have a great real estate attorney on their team. One that specializes working with real estate investors is an extra bonus on top for sure. So-
Synthia Melton: Right, and it is, especially if you’re an investor, I think the importance of having a team in place, not just your attorney but having a good CPA, having a good insurance agent, good title and escrow person. Just having all these members of your team are extremely important. And so, I personally am not just an attorney, I also own and run a business, and so I know the importance of having a team. I know we have an amazing CPA that we work with that I go to a lot for advice. And then I’m also a landlord and so I have, my husband and I have some rental properties and I do a lot of landlord advocacy work. I’m really passionate about that, and so I sit on the board for the Rental Housing Association in Washington, RHA. I’m currently vice president and then I sit on the education committee and the forms committee. So, it’s really cool to be personally invested in this because I’m passionate about it personally, but then I’m also, it’s nice to be able to do it as my day job.
Julie Clark: Heck yeah. That’s awesome. When you went to law school, are you … let me ask you. Are you a Husky?
Synthia Melton: I am not. I went to Seattle U.
Julie Clark: Oh, you went to Seattle U. That’s awesome.
Synthia Melton: I did. Everybody in my firm actually, just worked out that way, went to Seattle U. One of our business is me and a couple of our business partners is we rent out spaces in our office space to other attorneys, and who do practice in different practice areas so we can sort of create a comprehensive firm, but everybody still maintains their own spaces and own offices. Most of them have all gone to Seattle U, so nice little family. We love Seattle U. I went to-
Julie Clark: My cousin is a contracts attorney who went to Seattle U. We’ll have to talk later about if you guys know each other, but the reason I asked is because if you were a Husky I was going to have to wrap up early because I’m a Cougar. Go Cougs.
Synthia Melton: Well, no worries. I actually, for undergrad I went to Western in Bellingham, and we’re not sports school. So, there’s nothing to worry about there, but yeah I went to Western and then I went to Seattle U. Actually, when I came out of law school I was doing criminal defense and immigration defense, so I was-
Julie Clark: Wow.
Synthia Melton: Doing a lot of felony work and it was intense, to say the least. I was in court literally day and night. In prisons and jails all day long, and so it was very stressful work, but it was really good because I was thrown into court with people who had been doing it 20, 30 years and you just learn a lot. So, I think it’s made me having that court litigation experience has made me a better transactional attorney and I still do litigation, litigation [inaudible 00:09:44]. I’m still in court probably about an average of once a week or so but it just makes you more confident as a young attorney when you’re dealing with some of those felony cases with a lot of robberies, sex offenses, some murders. I learned a lot the first couple of years and then I decided I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life. So, that’s kind of how I made the transition to real estate.
Julie Clark: Did you have a bad, some crazy client or defendant change your mind or anything like that or were you just getting burned out?
Synthia Melton: I was just really burned out. Because first I started off just doing criminal defense then I wanted into criminal defense and immigration defense. So, you’re doing it at a state court level and federal court level and the firm I was working for at the time had offices here in Seattle and in Yakima so some morning, I’d be in Yakima and afternoons, I’d be in Seattle. It was really just burn out and I stopped feeling like I was really having an impact, especially with some of the federal laws. So, I started thinking about seriously at that point about what do I wanna do with the rest of my career as an attorney because there’s a lot of different things you can do.
Synthia Melton: My husband, his mom had been a landlord for a very long time, she still has rental properties, and so it was something I was always interested in. At that point, I had still been doing a little bit of business law and so I just decided I quit my job and I started my own firm and just started doing a bunch of business law. Then I partnered up with someone who had a real estate, who was doing real estate work and so now, five years later, I can’t imagine doing anything else. It’s given me the confidence to go out and for us to personally invest and become landlords, we’re more buying holds at this point. But I love it. I love the clients we have. I love real estate, there’s just so many different little things you can do that are [inaudible 00:11:58] and I’m always learning something new because we as attorneys, don’t know everything.
Synthia Melton: So, now I can’t see myself doing anything else. I really feel like I’ve found what it is I was supposed to be doing within the law.
Julie Clark: Wow. You know, I think it’s true that anybody who touches real estate in any way, whether you’re a broker or a contractor or even the title people or attorneys like yourself, real estate is so fascinating and opportunities are so big that if you are servicing anybody related or touching real estate in any way, you can’t help but wanna get in the game. Right?
Synthia Melton: Right. Right. No, I totally agree. For me, I’m more of, I’ve got a … I think I’m probably a little bit more [inaudible 00:12:52] than my husband but I needed to learn more about the industry and do [inaudible 00:12:58] really what gave us the confidence to be able to start doing all this and now it’s like, okay, great. I know this information and if I don’t know it, then at least I know where to go and find it and educate myself.
Julie Clark: And how fun to have a firm full of women and that is unique. I know for me, I love supporting you and that. I wouldn’t call myself a women’s liber necessarily but I do like that. There is some, I think, congratulations on that. That’s totally awesome.
Synthia Melton: Well, thank you.
Julie Clark: That’s why [crosstalk 00:13:35]
Synthia Melton: It’s interesting because in our industry, in realty, especially in real estate law, there isn’t very many women attorneys that I’ve come across or at least definitely not all women firms. So, it’s sort of a different dynamic but my partner, she has some real estate, she flipped her first property then to the bills. Our associate has flipped properties so we’ve got people that are personally interested in this stuff and I think it makes for us just being better attorneys because then you’ve got a little bit of this … you’ve got this passion that helps kind of fuel what you’re doing in the daytime and it makes you wanna learn more and it keeps you interested in it.
Julie Clark: Exactly.
Synthia Melton: [crosstalk 00:14:22] stay on top of things when [inaudible 00:14:25] because they’re constantly changing and it is very hard to stay on top of it. I just … right now, for example, like the Seattle landlord, I don’t have any properties in Seattle that are rentals but it’s how often things have changed, it’s so hard to keep track of these things.
Julie Clark: Right. Is that what you think as far as laws that are changing right now? Is that the one that is kind of a hot button or up for being debated at the moment or are there other topics that are hot right now?
Synthia Melton: Seattle is definitely one that’s ever changing and we have to keep an eye out on Seattle and so a lot of what we do through the Rental Housing Association, one of the reasons I’m personally a member is because it helps me stay on top of what the changing laws are. They send out emails and bulletins and things because I won’t be able to keep up with all of them but what’s happening in Seattle is that now you’re seeing it kind of transfer to different cities. So, Tacoma is working.
Julie Clark: Tacoma
Synthia Melton: Yeah. It is working on a bunch of stuff that’s gonna be similar. I think they already have an inspection ordinance but they put in, instead of a 20-day notice to terminate if you’re gonna do substantial rehab on a property, it’s 90 days right now. That’s in effect until September so there’s constant … it’s really difficult which is why I’m all about self-advocacy and self-education and really being involved or being part of … close to organizations where you can stay on top of this because [crosstalk 00:16:04].
Julie Clark: You know what? I got a good idea. You should your own podcast or your own meet-up that’s like a once a month check-in on the changing laws or what went into effect or what’s pending. Even if it’s … God, we would love for you to pop off a video and share with Seattle Investors Club members. Hey. Like once a month and update ‘Hey, guys. This is what’s going on this month’ or ‘This is what changed this month,’ especially when it comes to the tenent/landlord stuff because you’re right. It’s hard to keep up with and I think there is a need. People are so into buying holds right now. I mean, it is … they have just … that interest in the buy and hold thing has quadrupled in the last few months it seems like. People are having trouble getting contractors and I don’t know.
Synthia Melton: Oh, yeah.
Julie Clark: But that would be really awesome for you. I know that you have some other things going on that are gonna take up your time. Right?
Synthia Melton: I do. I do have little baby on the way. My first baby in the fall so I’m sure that’s gonna keep us busy but actually we’re working on just sort of a newsletter. We need to get better about blogging on our firm but for now, before I do all that I will just say people can go, the RHA blog is, the Rental Housing Association blog, is a good resource for staying on top of changing laws because it’s Washington so its not just in Seattle. There is one other law that just … this is really gonna kind of change things for my clients who buy at auction and foreclosed properties and I’m sure you know a number of your members buy foreclosed properties but it’s called the ‘Protecting Tenants Against Foreclosure Act.’ It was in place up until 2014 in December and then it expired and it just was repealed and the president signed it back into law on May 24th.
Synthia Melton: What it is is it basically says that a tenant in a foreclosed property, so this applies to banks, purchasers, REOs, you’re buying up foreclosed property, they get 90 days notice before they have to vacate a property. There’s a whole bunch of other different pieces to that because if a tenant is under a term lease that has not expired and it’s a bonafide tenant meaning it’s not a family member of the previous owner, they’re paying market rate, close to market rate rent. If you are the buyer or not moving into the property, then you have to give them the entire term of their lease. So, the 90 days, they have to move out within 90 days but there are certain exceptions they don’t meet, so they’re starting things that are below market rate. It’s not a bonafide tenant, they’re moving in personally, but it hasn’t been a law for the three and a half years so it’s kind of made things easier for us.
Synthia Melton: Washington state requires 60-day notices for, let’s say for example, if you buy at auction. The 60-day notice for a tenant to vacate would apply but this is federal law. The 90-day rule is federal law and it applies to all foreclosed properties that have tenants in it. It’s gonna be something that we’re actually gonna publishing a blog about. It’s gonna change how we do things a little bit.
Julie Clark: Yeah. I mean, I always thing as long as people know what the rules are, right, then they can figure how to play by the rules. Right?
Synthia Melton: Exactly.
Julie Clark: I mean, it just adds costs, right, [crosstalk 00:20:05]
Synthia Melton: It does. It adds costs and still doesn’t take away your ability to negotiate with a tenant, do cash for keys or things like that. So, it’s not meant to scare people. ‘Oh, no, you can’t buy foreclosed properties that have tenants in it.’ Just know that you have to send out this notice because if you don’t and you try to evict them or things like that, you won’t be able to. You gotta give them the 90 days start from when you send them the notice and it has to be proper notice so there’s all these little things that are constantly changing. This is why it’s important to and sometimes it can be really overwhelming for your average investor and landlord so important to have your team, you know, your lawyer, accountant, things like that that we’ve talked about. It’s also important to self-advocate and stay educated.
Julie Clark: Heck, yeah. No doubt. Let’s jump into contract disputes a little bit. That is super good info that you just laid out for us there, so we definitely wanna hear from you or give us a heads up when your blog comes out on that.
Synthia Melton: Yeah. Definitely.
Julie Clark: I actually haven’t heard anybody actually say anything about that. As far as on all these forums, I haven’t seen somebody mention that so much. I actually saw people talking about the 60-day notice and nobody’s, recently, without anybody talking about the 90-day notice. You know?
Synthia Melton: Yeah, so President Trump signed it into law on May 24th and it takes effect 30 days from that date. It’ll be like June 24th, is when it’ll start so it’s gonna be this month and so people need to know about it because we do have a lot of people that buy at auction.
Julie Clark: Right.
Synthia Melton: A lot of REO properties. But, yeah, I’ll definitely keep you guys updated on that.
Julie Clark: Awesome.
Synthia Melton: Contract disputes, that is a very wide area of possible things, you know, there’s very many different types of contracts. I can tell you some of the most common ones that we see are a lot of contractor issues, a lot of issues that flippers have with their contractors. We do joint ventures and sometimes, you’ll have that but not so much. A lot of what we do with our clients is we try to help prepare them and draft these contracts ahead of time so they can try to avoid litigation and avoid these issues. But we see, unfortunately, is people will try to, you know, investors are always savvy, they’re always trying to be cool and so they might share a contract and you’re using a friend’s contract, it may not apply to you. They usually arrive when people, one, don’t understand certain terms in the contract or they don’t really read what they’re signing.
Synthia Melton: Some of the common ones that we’re dealing with are, and in the summer we see this a lot, a lot more contractor/lien issues, contractor disputes. Joint ventures, for the most part, that works out pretty well because two people are in it and they have the same goals that they are working towards. Or a joint venture basically is is two individual parties entering in an agreement for one specific project so a lot of times what you’ll see is people who are someone’s bringing the money, someone’s bringing the expertise, it might be an agent or something like that, where they’re saying ‘I’m going to manage these contractors. I’m gonna manage this step for you. You’re just putting up the money and I’m gonna list it and do all that.’ It’s a very wide range because there’s lots of different types of contracts. We see a lot of wholesale. Kind of tell me what are you guys seeing most often or what are you most curious about and I’m happy to focus on that.
Julie Clark: Yeah, I mean, I guess I’m curious to know do you see more disputes between, like you said, investors and contractors or between investors and homeowners or sellers or between real estate partners like a JV. It sounds like the JV is maybe because, like you said, those two people have the same end goal, maybe can be less fierce, I guess I’ll say. But out of those three categories, between investors and contractors or investors and just homeowners or sellers or JVs, do you see more of one type than the other?
Synthia Melton: Between investors and contractors and investors and sellers, they’re kind of split, at least right now. Different seasons, different times of the year, we see a spike in different things. I do have a couple joint venture deals that are in litigation right now. It wasn’t, unfortunately, [inaudible 00:25:17] we’d be in or anything or contract that came to us after the fact and the business partners are suing each other because well ‘I didn’t get my money or’ and it’s something that you don’t at the time that you’re entering into this with people, a lot of it is you may have a fantastic relationship with them so people don’t feel like they need to write out all the terms of how they’re going to conduct business with each other. And that’s where the joint venture problems will arise especially with somebody that you’re friends with or sometimes I’ve had people who wanna push each other. It’s very interesting the common signs we get from people as to why they didn’t do certain things in their contract.
Julie Clark: Well, I’m also sure that a lot of those joint ventures, I’m not sure but I would think a lot of the joint ventures are where somebody’s managing the contractor or maybe somebody is acting as the general contractor and takes on a money partner.
Synthia Melton: Right.
Julie Clark: That layers like a third issue on top so you don’t have a third party general contractor so that partner who just put in the money is getting ticked off for that general contractor partner not performing.
Synthia Melton: Right, right. And you know when it’s a money partner entering into a joint venture with somebody who is a general contractor, a lot of times the JV doesn’t … the JV is more terms of their deal without the tripping but not necessarily a contractor’s agreement about the contractor’s duties and what they’re going to do because they just trust, ‘Well, you’re the general contractor.’ I can’t tell you how many, aside from JV, when investors will enter into contracts with contractors for rehabs, they will not verify, it kind of blows my mind, but people don’t verify that somebody’s license been bonded. It’s very easy to do to go on LNI’s website and look it up but it’s sort of the basic thing so a lot of the issues with contractor disputes, they’re kind of a nightmare.
Synthia Melton: And I will say this, we don’t do construction law but we work with a lot of contractor disputes just because a lot of our clients slip and a lot of times, issues will arise because people go to them with their property and they’re about to close and then all of a sudden, surprise, there’s a lien on the property. Then they’re a week away from closing or maybe several days away from closing and the [inaudible 00:27:55] lien processor, let’s say it’s a completely frivolous lien or even if you have a subcontractor that files a lien on your property because the GC didn’t pay them. That process takes little while, it’s not a very, you know, you have to file for a hearing in court, there is a mandatory attorney’s lien provision for the prevailing party so for some reason if your contractor wins, then you gotta pay their attorney fees as well and so a lot of times, what people I think don’t realize is that anybody can file a lien on your property. It could be completely frivolous but they can still file it and then you would have to then fight it. It gets to a point where people wanna close, they don’t wanna lose their buyer and so we end up having to negotiate those to get the lien released because oftentimes it’s a lot faster and cheaper than having to fight it out in court.
Julie Clark: Wouldn’t one way to go with would be to, I mean for people to get lien releases as they pay the contractors?
Synthia Melton: Yep, exactly. That’s exactly what I was gonna say. You would be so surprised how many times people don’t do that. The one thing I think investors don’t know is if you go after a contractor’s bond, let’s say it’s shifting a little bit, if you’re suing a contractor for defective work or not following through with the contract, the general contractor’s bond is 12000 in Washington, specialty contractor like a plumber, electrician is 6 grand but if you have an investment property, you’re only allowed 6000 of that 12000 general contractor’s bond. That’s all the bonding company will pay so any remainder judgment you get against the [inaudible 00:29:49] when you get a judgment, you’re gonna have to go after the contractor personally for that. So, even though the general contractor’s bond is 12000, if it’s an investment, you’re limited to 6000.
Julie Clark: Yikes. It almost seems barely even worth it to, considering, I mean, that covers legal bills as far as.
Synthia Melton: Right.
Julie Clark: To go with it. So, what tips do you have for investors on their construction contracts? If you guys would just use lien releases. If you guys just use a certain clause or put a payment schedule in your contracts, right? Or something. Is there any tips that you can our listeners ’cause this doesn’t just apply in Seattle, this applies everywhere.
Synthia Melton: Oh, exactly.
Julie Clark: All across the lands of investor world, you know, everybody runs into the same problems. I think that people these days also are that investors these days are having such a hard time getting contractors that they are putting more weight on just getting one, any one ’cause they can’t find contractors to hire. So they feel like they can’t rock the boat or have a bunch of rules in place which is … this is how I think of things, guys. When you’re running a business and obviously, especially Joe will say, you know, Joe’s a systems guy, if we can delegate it out or create a system to not have to deal with it or have it run on it’s own, that’s great.
Julie Clark: But I am a strong believer in, as an investor, as simply just a business owner, that there is usually, let’s call is it the top three things that you never really wanna hand off, that you wanna keep your eye on no matter what. You know, I get the four hour week and being off doing something but I also strongly believe that there are certain things that you just wanna keep control of and I imagine when you’re dealing with contractors and writing up your contracts or deciding who to work with that there should also be, these are just non-negotiable things, these are just things that I know I have to do and get every single time just because the downside can be such a pain in the ass and so expensive. Is there something like always get lien releases, always have a payment schedule, or always have a penalty or not performing. Is there anything like that, not trying to put people on the spot but.
Synthia Melton: I was gonna say no. Those are all, just the three that you mentioned, are all great terms that you want to have [crosstalk 00:32:57] but there are other things you definitely want to have. The thing with contractors, parties are free for the most part to negotiate any terms that they want. They are certain industry standards and contracts and if there’s a dispute over a contract, and this is just generally speaking, the court is gonna look at what is in the contract objectively and then they’re gonna look at the intent of the party. So, when you’re looking at a contract and you’re signing a contract, you wanna make sure the contract, in simple terms, says what you mean and what you want and what you intend. That is just generally what you wanna make sure.
Synthia Melton: For example, in a agreement with a contractor, you definitely want execution of work so who’s furnishing like is the contractor furnishing labor, materials, tools, all those things you want. Things like that outlined, definitely want a schedule, taxes or who’s paying, contractors paying any local, state, federal taxes. They’re assuring that they are licensed and bonded but you also wanna do your own due diligence. Warrantees are another big thing, that contractor provides certain warrantees. Definitely everything you mentioned, lien releases, a payment schedule. I think it’s a good idea to put meetings in there as well. This is not a requirement, these are just general terms that could be a good idea where they keep you … if you request a meeting or there could be a minimum number of meetings that you have where you meet them onsite for inspections or things like that.
Synthia Melton: You’re keeping the property free of liens, how subcontractors are managed, I mean, your GC’s in charge of making sure all of that is paid, again the property is free of liens, that type of stuff. So, there is insurance requirements, they should comply with any of the owner’s insurance requirements so, really there’s this general trends that are a good idea and I think you mentioned some of them. There are certain kinds [crosstalk 00:35:20]
Julie Clark: And outside of contracts, guys, just getting references also, right?
Synthia Melton: Definitely.
Julie Clark: I mean, getting references or looking at their past jobs and things like that.
Synthia Melton: Yeah, definitely references and even just looking, making sure you look them up on LNI’s website because it will tell you if there’s lawsuits that they’ve had and what’s pending and the status of their licenses. I had a situation where I had a client who had a seven figure house built and the contractor, the builder’s license was suspended the entire time and there was all these defects with the property. We ended up suing and we got a judgment. We recorded a lien against the builders, another piece of land that the builder owned that they were gonna build on. The lien was pending and what we’ve seen, this is kind of a caveat. It doesn’t happen often but we’ve seen it happen more often and they’ll then build on that property and sell that home with our lien still on it. It went through title and escrow and what escrow did was that they closed anyway and they did a actual holdback for the amount of our lien. And it just blows my mind specifically, you think I have a properly recorded lien against this property and your liens usually get paid out prior to closing.
Synthia Melton: So, what we’ve seen, and this is small and large escrow companies, and this has happened probably four or five times this year already.
Julie Clark: What?
Synthia Melton: [crosstalk 00:36:54] Yeah. These escrow holdbacks where they’ll have the seller sign a personal guarantee and indemnify the buyer and basically say if this lien holder sues, we will go ahead and indemnify you, we’ll take care of everything. But what it does is for the lien holder so for us in this case, it really takes away some of your power because now the property’s been sold and now you’ve got this contractor who you have the lien against, they’re negotiating to try to resolve it and not pay as much into. Then in forfeit, I have to go through courts, it’s long and it’s expensive. So, this whole escrow holdback thing it really bothers me but I think [inaudible 00:37:42].
Julie Clark: Wow. That’s scary. That’s a little bit scary.
Synthia Melton: Yeah, yeah. It is. It just is really makes us mad as attorneys when we see that.
Julie Clark: How do you protect around that? Just make sure that you’re, I don’t know. How do you protect around that? I don’t know [crosstalk 00:38:02]
Synthia Melton: I don’t have a good answer to that either because then I mean, you know you think once you have it properly recorded in the county and everything. And it’s on title from the title [inaudible 00:38:17] when they pull at it and escrow still will do a holdback in that amount and keep that money until parties resolve. At some point, I’m sure it gets [inaudible 00:38:28] but that’s one thing we haven’t really and just still trying to figure out the whole what gives them even the authority to do this and it’s really because they have the … maybe your title and escrow guy can answer this.
Julie Clark: Yeah.
Synthia Melton: That might be good question for them because I’d love some more information on that because it does make things harder for people to have proper liens on properties, that think ‘Hey, if this person ever goes to settle, I’m gonna get paid out.’ Yeah, it’s interesting but the terms you mentioned for contractor agreements and just some of the general terms I’ve mentioned, it’s good. The one big thing for any time there’s any modification, you want to make sure and changes, you wanna make sure you get that in writing. A lot of times, people won’t. What I’ve seen is I had a client who has an apartment building and they entered into a six-figure roof replacement just on a one-page bid and that’s what the contract was. Then all these modifications along the way that was just oral and then all of a sudden, they get a bill that’s so much more than what they contracted for. So, its simple things like that that will really protect. Don’t think just because ‘Oh, I have a good relationship with this person, I don’t need to have these things in writing.’
Julie Clark: Right. I always think that there should be, maybe people have this out there like a checklist of these are the non-negotiable items and these are the items that you go for and you see if you can get it. Right? You know, kind of the, I don’t want to call them a wish list but the add-ons.
Synthia Melton: Right.
Julie Clark: And these are the other admin follow-up items if this happens. I mean it seems like something like that should be floated out there somewhere. Maybe you guys all have that. If you do, let us know. Share it with us. Because we like sharing here at the Seattle Investors Club.
Julie Clark: Well, jeez all this, what about calls from investors or brokers on earnest money deposit issues and stuff that? Do you get any of those calls?
Synthia Melton: We do. Surprisingly, a little bit more this year than last year and with real estate contracts, before I get into the earnest money disputes, I was just gonna say with real estate contracts. You’ve got you’re MLS forms and then people like to use their own contract wholesalers particularly or other people because sometimes they think ‘Well, the MLS forms are way too complicated and I’ve got a seller who it’s just gonna confuse them,’ so they wanna use their own simplified version [crosstalk 00:41:19]
Julie Clark: Well, if you’re not a member of the MLS, if you’re not an agent, who’s a wholesaler, you can’t use those forms anyway.
Synthia Melton: You can’t although I am surprised how many people still do.
Julie Clark: I hear that.
Synthia Melton: There are for wholesalers, there’s a lot of times they will see their own contract but just in general, real estate contracts, of course the things you want to make sure that are included are like things like your legal description boundary, just make sure there’s an accurate legal part. Without that, you don’t have an enforceable contract and that would apply for even, one thing I’ll point out is lease agreements. If your lease agreement is over a year for a landlord/tenant situation, you’re gonna make sure that it’s a notarized lease and you wanna attach a legal to that. A lot of people don’t know that because if it’s not notarized then it becomes a month to month lease, after [crosstalk 00:42:20]
Julie Clark: Over 12 months, right?
Synthia Melton: Right, yeah, exactly.
Julie Clark: So if you’re an 18 month lease, what if it’s just an apartment. Let’s say you own a ten-unit apartment building and in one of the units, you sign a 18-month lease. You’re gonna use the legal description for the entire property on that?
Synthia Melton: Yeah, you could use the legal for that. There’s usually a specific, each unit usually has some sort of specifier, like there’s a unit, but you can use that. You can use the legal description for that.
Julie Clark: Let me back up for a second.
Synthia Melton: You wanna make sure it’s accurate.
Julie Clark: Yeah, let me back up for a second. We’re talking about how in real estate contracts, you really don’t even have an enforceable contract unless you have a legal description as part of that contract. We all agree with that. Is there anything in construction in contracts, like contractor/general contractor contracts between investors and their GCs that is in the same light, I guess I’ll say, that you know how we need legal descriptions for real estate contracts and construction contracts. Is there anything that absolutely has to be there or it’s not enforceable?
Synthia Melton: No, there isn’t for construction that I know of. There isn’t but I always think that it’s a good idea to put in what specific property it is as detailed as possible, which is a legal description, that the contractor is performing the work on.
Julie Clark: So, it’s not a requirement by law, it’s a best practice.
Synthia Melton: Yep, it’s good practice to have that. There is specific things in real estate. You got your solid disclosures that are state law requires it and of course, the buyer can waive that form, the form 17 but if answers to any of the environmental section says yes then they can’t waive that. So, there’s certain things like that. There’s very specific scenarios, there’s seven specific scenarios I believe in the RCW where the seller disclosure is not required. In real estate contracts, for example in particular, you can have a specific performance clause. That’s not allowed in every single contract but the courts, basically where a specific performance clause is. As a buyer, you would want that in there, because then the court can force the seller and order a seller to complete the sale, if a seller defaults according to your agreement.
Synthia Melton: So, there’s certain little things I like to add, non-merger or it’s sometimes called the entire agreement clauses, which basically says nothing, no other oral agreements or other agreements outside of this contract are enforceable unless the parties actually agree in writing to amend a certain term. I think that’s always a good one to have especially when you’re working with contractors and just even in real estate. I will also add an independent attorney review clause, in most contracts I do. Actually, in all of them, where especially where you’re dealing with wholesalers a lot of times and investors when they’re buying. You wanna make sure, especially if you’re dealing with more of a vulnerable type of seller, that you have that clause in there, you give them the opportunity. They may not choose to exercise that option but you at least wanna make it that it’s in there, they’ve initialed it and acknowledge it that they have the opportunity to have this agreement reviewed by an independent attorney so there’s never any argument about ‘Well, I was forced to sign this’ or ‘I had no idea what I was signing,’ things like that.
Julie Clark: That’s a good tip, guys. So, what’s the name of that clause? An independent attorney review?
Synthia Melton: Yeah. An independent attorney review clause.
Julie Clark: That’s good.
Synthia Melton: Basically, you’re giving them the option to have it reviewed.
Julie Clark: I think in general, investors are so nervous that you know, ‘Well, if I offer this, it gives people an out’ or it gives … the truth of the matter is, when somebody wants to sell their home and they are a motivated seller, when they wanna sell, they wanna sell. Rarely does it ever happen, I think, where if you should just disclose everything and give them every benefit and be as on the up-and-up with all these sellers, wholesalers need to do this in general because if you do that, they don’t care. They only care when you try and cheat them. When you try and pull the wool over their eyes but if you tell them and you’re honest with them about your intentions and that you’re an investor, that you need to make a profit, that you encourage them to get an attorney. That, yep, you’re a broker too, all these things, people are, it’s a big myth that that scares off sellers who are motivated sellers for investors, who investors wanna work with, it’s a myth that that scares them off. I think that it is actually the opposite. I think that the more upfront and clauses like that that are to their benefit makes them more comfortable and shows them that you’re not some skeezer trying to skim their equity or whatever.
Synthia Melton: Right, no. I 100% agree with that and you’d be surprised as to when we try to add some of these clauses, we push back from some of our clients because the concern is well, this will scare off the seller or whatever. They think they’re gonna back out of the deal. Well, really, we’ve seen so many cases where it’s dealing with somebody saying, a seller who’s not really educated in the industry or these terms or I have no idea what I was doing. I was scammed, this and that and so its really to protect you and its to protect them as well and try to avoid future issues.
Julie Clark: I think you just hit it on the head is they think that it’s to protect them, the sellers, but it’s really to protect you, wholesalers. You, it protects you.
Synthia Melton: Yeah.
Julie Clark: And if something is borderline where you may or may not be getting that deal, you gotta sneak it through, then you probably need to be overly cautious anyway because you don’t want somebody coming back at you. I’d rather lose a deal than slip it by somebody. Right? I wanna sleep at night, right? [crosstalk 00:48:57] during the mornings with my mom friends don’t always help me sleep at night, I guess is what I’m saying. I need to wanna live on the up-and-up here so I can sleep at night, no problem, right?
Synthia Melton: Right, I can’t wait till September till I can have a mimosa.
Julie Clark: Well, you won’t be sleeping much come September.
Synthia Melton: No, I won’t. [crosstalk 00:49:20] you know, these issues of what we’re talking about, this is why there’s certain laws that have been put in place. The distressed homeowner act that was … what’s the name of the actual act? Distressed home consulting act, that was put into place, I think, back in 2008 but because equity skimming and scams and things like that, you have to be very careful especially with wholesalers. But even as agents, that act is a fairly complex and it’s confusing but it applies to people, a distressed home, so it’s a personal residence so it’s not somebody’s investment property, their personal residence that’s basically in danger of foreclosure.
Synthia Melton: That’s because they are behind on their mortgage or tax payments, things like that. So a person can be, there’s very specific requirements where a person could be considered a distressed home consultant and its very important, it’s probably more time than we have today to go into it but if you, for example, one of the things, if you are helping someone stop or postpone a sale or you’re buying their home within 20 days of a foreclosure sale or this one is an important one. You’re entering into an agreement to buy a home and then you’re letting them stay in the property because they needed additional time to move, you’re letting them stay in the property for more than 20 days beyond the closing date, then you can be considered a distressed home consultant. Whether you’re an agent or not and so then you have judiciary duties, which is one of the highest standards of duties you have to the seller.
Synthia Melton: So, that’s one thing I think it’s good for people to be aware. There are [inaudible 00:51:09] specific [inaudible 00:51:10] view about that, it’s 6134050 and it’s important to know when you can and can’t be considered that because I have seen wholesalers use these agreements where they have these distressed home consultant, there’s a notice that’s required by law. But they’re not dealing with distressed properties. It is just an agreement that they got from a buddy or something and it’s like okay. Well, this shouldn’t be in here because the impact of this is there could be criminal and civil penalties to it. It’s something you just wanna be really aware of it.
Julie Clark: What if the seller is represented by an attorney on their end? Does that [crosstalk 00:51:55]
Synthia Melton: If they’re represented by an attorney or a licensed agent, and their home’s going into foreclosure, then you’re fine. And that’s [crosstalk 00:52:10] assumption.
Julie Clark: You’re in the clear. Right. So, let me ask you a question. Can investors who are listening to this today, if they run into a, hopefully none of you are mailing to or doing any mail or direct mail to distressed homeowners because that’s a no-no, so, if you’re doing that, stop it right now. But in general, it’s very plausible in general when you’re going about your business that you’re gonna run into a distressed homeowner from time to time even if you’re not trying to target them. As an investor, would it be advisable for them to say ‘Hey, I’m interested in purchasing your home but you need to have representation in order for me to do that.’ You could pay that sellers legal bill, right?
Synthia Melton: Yeah. You’d wanna make sure there’s certain types of agreements in place but you could. You could certainly do that because you wanna make sure it doesn’t seem like you’re paying their legal bills and having any influence on the person representing them.
Julie Clark: Or maybe you could increase the purchase price by the amount of the legal bill or whatever you would do.
Synthia Melton: Right, right.
Julie Clark: But would it be, I guess what I’m saying is, ‘Hey, guys. If you run into a foreclosure house, why don’t you refer the seller over to Synthia and have her represent the seller.’ Is that far reaching what I’m saying or not?
Synthia Melton: It’s not far reaching. I will tell you typically there are other attorneys that deal with this. We typically don’t. We do a lot of post-foreclosure type work more than pre-foreclosure. I know we’ve done it before but we’d have to have very clear disclosures as to the person who is then referring us knows that they are not our clients, we don’t have their best interests at heart. We have the seller’s best interest but you never know. All that is possible, me or other attorneys, but it is a good idea because, yeah, that takes you out of this distressed home consultant issue. I always think it’s better when you’ve got people, ’cause people I think sometimes [crosstalk 00:54:29].
Julie Clark: Or insert a broker. Just insert a broker.
Synthia Melton: Exactly.
Julie Clark: But can the buyer then … most buyers, I would say, don’t need a buyer’s agent. Investor buyers, they don’t need a buyer’s agent if they come across a property, right? So, let’s say a off-market property or something. Let’s say you come across that situation and you’re like, ‘Well, go find a broker,’ or ‘Here’s a list of a few brokers. I don’t know if you wanna do it that way or if that’s bad that … they can represent you and I’ll be the buyer’ and that buyer can pay the commission. Is that legit?
Synthia Melton: Right. Yeah. You could do that.
Julie Clark: Right and it gets around the risk, right?
Synthia Melton: Right, right. Exactly, exactly. One of the things, when you’re buying properties from sellers that are … if you’re buying their investment property, this doesn’t apply. This is only on their home but it’s just really about being a decent good person and wanting to do the right thing like I get everybody is in this because they want the deal and it’s great. You want the deal but you also wanna make sure it doesn’t come back to bite you later because you decided ‘Okay, I’m gonna hide the ball on this and that.’
Synthia Melton: I will say this. There’s certain scenarios when it comes to inspections and things. For buyer, Washington is buyer beware. Those things you wanna know about. It doesn’t necessarily apply so much and maybe some of these investment-type deals where you’re just buying ‘as-is’ and you don’t care.
Julie Clark: Buyer can’t rely on the form 17 so much, right, anymore because there’s court cases.
Synthia Melton: Exactly.
Julie Clark: Exactly.
Synthia Melton: Oh, yeah. Oh, gosh, there have been court cases where the seller has even hit the ball and tried to conceal these facts and the court still said ‘Nope.’ Buyers, you’re represented by an agent, you get in this section, you have this duty, you’re responsible and we’ve actually won on several where our seller’s agent got sued and the brokerage got sued and we won on some rejection is because it is a buy beware type of scenario. There’s lots of [crosstalk 00:56:50]
Julie Clark: We could go on forever like this, guys. Lets jump tenant/landlord stuff. What are the toughest types of evictions that you see investors deal with and we’ll end it on that note if we jump into that because of the excitement these days about buy and holds. We know that evictions … sometimes, guys, I think you can get a better deal buying a property that has an existing tenant in it and dealing with that and underwriting those numbers into the deal and taking on that extra risk is a good potential way of getting deals because a lot of landlords are like ‘I just don’t wanna deal with it anymore.’ Right? Once it becomes vacant, then they have no reason not to list it or get top dollar but to walk away, especially with a tenant that is in a lease that has several months left on it, it can be a great opportunity.
Julie Clark: But let me ask you one thing about this is a technicality that I’m not so sure I know about 100% but I’m gonna throw it out there. If you’re in the city of Seattle, maybe it’s only the city of Seattle, and you are buying a property that has a month-to-month tenant. Okay and you want to give that tenant notice to vacate and they have a month-to-month lease so your brain might go ‘Oh, I only need to give them a 20 day notice’ or whatever the notice period is, I’m not sure you can [crosstalk 00:58:32].
Synthia Melton: Right. Yeah, you cannot do that in Seattle.
Julie Clark: Is there something significant about a month-to-month lease that doesn’t really give you just the month?
Synthia Melton: Yep. Well, month-to-month leases in general, outside the city of Seattle, this is the one that people get hung up on a lot is they think ‘Okay, I just have to give them a 20 day notice to vacate’ and so what they’ll do, let’s say you wanna end the lease term end of May and it’s May 1st. So, they’ll give a notice saying ‘Oh, your tenancy is terminated on May 20th,’ because that’s 20 days from when I gave you the notice and that’s not correct. It’s actually you have to give them till the end of the monthly rental period and the name itself is confusing because you are required to give them that notice 20 days before the end of that monthly rental period. [crosstalk 00:59:24]
Julie Clark: Anytime during, let’s say the first ten days.
Synthia Melton: The first ten days, exactly. If you are mailing, you know if you can’t personally serve and you’re mailing the notice, you wanna make sure you leave enough time for mailing so typically one extra day for mailings. You wanna make sure you give it, I always say give it during the first five days of the month, just to be sure and make sure you give them till the end of the month. However, the caveat is a lot of things are different in Seattle. Seattle does not allow you to terminate a month-to-month tenancy with a 20-day notice. Seattle specifically has something called a ‘just cause ordinance’ where there’s 22 reasons where you can terminate a tenancy so if you, as an investor, are buying a property however you buy it, you are inheriting the tenants and whatever lease terms they had with the previous owner. The only exception to that rule, even in Seattle, is if you buy a property at auction, at a trust … I shouldn’t say ‘auction.’ If you buy it at a trustee sale and you have a trustee [inaudible 01:00:27], that’s the only exception because that’s where the 60 and the 90-day rule come in.
Julie Clark: And this is the new 90-day rule. [crosstalk 01:00:36]
Synthia Melton: So, it’s gets a little confusing. Washington has a 60-day rule that applies where if you buy a property at a trustee sale, the tenant has 60 days or more till the end of that monthly rental period to vacate. You have to give them proper notice of course and then you don’t have to keep them as a tenant. The 90-day rule applies to all foreclosed properties so regardless of how you buy it, if you buy it and it’s a foreclosed property, the 90-day rule applies. Unless you get a tenant that’s on a term-lease, then they have to stay in the property, then they can stay in the property during that term of the lease if you’re not moving into the property.
Synthia Melton: This is why you need an attorney on your side to help interpret these things because how the 90 days applies in Seattle is gonna be interesting because it usually under the 90- day law, if a tenant on a month-to-month lease, they still get their minimum 90 days but then they can leave. But if they’re on a term-lease, they can’t but then Seattle, you can’t terminate a month-to-month lease. So you’ve got federal laws, state, city laws, local laws so it can be kind of a lot to interpret.
Julie Clark: What if nobody can find a lease? What if nobody can produce a written lease?
Synthia Melton: If they can’t produce a written lease, then it’s presumed it’s a month-to-month lease.
Julie Clark: Geez, a lot to know, guys, here. I mean, literally whenever you thinking about buying a buy in whole property that has a tenant in there, whether you’re a wholesaler or even at auction and you have a heads up, you should get with your attorney AKA Synthia maybe, right? And you should, if you’re in the Seattle area, do you only practice law in Washington?
Synthia Melton: Yes, I’m only licensed in Washington and I will say this for people who buy at auction and stuff, we actually do have notices on our website. We have a landlord/tenant library and we have notices that we’ve provided for free with instructions that people can use. We don’t, of course, guarantee them if they decide to delete things or change it up but I’m more than happy if they call us to sort of chat about what the proper notice it because the main thing with evictions you have to know is if you don’t send the initial notice properly and you try to evict someone, your case is gonna get thrown out. So, sending the right notice and serving it properly is the most important component of any eviction case.
Julie Clark: So, why anybody would try and do this on their own, right, is beyond me. I think for me I see okay, here’s the deal. Give me essentially the menu of the checklist on this particular situation, on this particular deal, how I need to proceed because what if it’s even … is it even get more complicated if it’s a HUD tenant or something like that or not?
Synthia Melton: Typically it doesn’t.
Julie Clark: Section 8?
Synthia Melton: Section 8, no. A lot of times with Section 8, when you’re evicting, we just try to work with their Section 8 person, whoever is their, gosh, I’m forgetting the term but there are times we’ll try to work with them but here’s the thing. A tenant can lose their Section 8 benefits if they’re evicted and so a lot of times it’s faster and quicker to work with Section 8 to just place them somewhere else. But you still need to issue the proper notices.
Julie Clark: Right and it’s the right thing to do.
Synthia Melton: Yeah.
Julie Clark: Wow. Well, that was a lot, guys. That’s a lot. That is all good info that my thoughts on this is that boy, I’m gonna run it by my attorney before I, just for peace of mind. I mean, it’s way less expensive to deal with having a quick review or making a quick game plan ahead of time than having to deal with this after the fact, guys. And if you’re penny pinching, a lot of investors are such cheap asses, I’m sorry guys. You guys step over, you guys need to snap out of it and understand that there are certain things that you need to do from the start and maybe one of those things is making sure that whenever you’re dealing with a tenant situation, running it by your attorney on the game plan real quick or even your property manager. I don’t know. I don’t know the difference between, you gotta know that that property manager is up to snuff, that’s for sure.
Synthia Melton: Right. And we review and drop property management agreements and things like that for landlords. We also work with property management companies but it’s one of those things where you’re basically, yes, you’re spending upfront to basically protect yourself and prepare yourself. So, hopefully in the future, you don’t have to spend way more and then the time and the stress associated with it and of course, the money. I know we chatted about a lot of stuff, I didn’t even get to touch on the earnest money disputes which we do see. I’m surprised how much more common it is that we do see a lot of those with agents and things like that and with that, I always encourage people to try to resolve it out of court because with earnest money disputes, [inaudible 01:06:17] only holds it for generally 30 days and then it’s [inaudible 01:06:20] and then you gotta battle it out in court. Sometimes the amount in dispute is not worth the amount spending on attorney fees and court fees.
Julie Clark: What’s the number one thing you see earnest money disputes about? Whether it should have been released on not or if somebody gets it back or not. I mean, these days, what’s happening [crosstalk 01:06:40] Exactly.
Synthia Melton: It’s around financing. It’s usually related to the financing contingency and fail to close ’cause wasn’t able to get financing. We see a lot of those and as long as the buyer does not expressly [inaudible 01:07:01] the financing contingency, it does survive closing and they are entitled to the earnest money. There’s all these things we could go into about the form 22AR and things like that but I would say the most common is related to financing and then what people don’t get it is once escrow inter tweeds, you’ve got court filing fees, the 240 is taken out. $240 is taken out for court filing fee. You’ve got their attorney fees which can vary. Sometimes the contract limits it but it can vary as to what the attorney fees are. So, by the time you get your earnest money back, you are not only paying some fees, you’re paying on your attorney fees and you might not get half of what was in there. I really try to encourage parties to try to resolve it out of court and that’s what we do in those situations.
Julie Clark: Right. Hot topics for sure. So much more to talk about. So, we’ll have you back on. I know we’re gonna plan for you to come in person to Seattle Investors Club and dive deeper into these topics also so you guys look for that this year, that Synthia will come. Right? Putting you on the spot.
Synthia Melton: Yeah, yeah.
Julie Clark: Okay. That’s right. Joe will hold the new baby while you’re giving your presentation. Joe the baby whisperer.
Joe Bauer: I’ve had that job before.
Synthia Melton: Alright, Joe. We’re counting on you. Well thank you guys so much.
Julie Clark: Yeah, thanks for coming on and taking the time. We know how busy you are and we look forward to hearing regular updates from you and again where’s your website that people can go look it up and look all your forms and stuff like that?
Synthia Melton: So, it’s Dimensionlaw.com, D-I-M-E-N-S-I-O-N-L-A-W.com
Julie Clark: Okay. And your contact information, they can reach you through your website, that’s Synthia Melton, guys. Right?
Synthia Melton: Yes, so my phone number’s on there and my email is actually on there as well. My name is Synthia with an ‘S’ so a lot of people get confused by that but all our contact information for our attorneys are there and that you can even contact through our website. Yeah, I hope this information is somewhat helpful to your members.
Julie Clark: For sure. Joe, are we gonna drop a link to her website on the podcast notes?
Joe Bauer: Heck yeah. Anybody who’s driving, we don’t want you to be typing things into your phone as you’re driving because a lot of people are listening while they’re driving. Make sure you go to SeattleInvestorsClub.com/36. That’s SeattleInvestorsClub.com36. You can get all the show notes, everything that we’ve talking about today including Synthia’s contact information.
Julie Clark: Awesome. Well, good stuff. Well, Claudette, I’m always hungry at the end of these podcasts because it’s about 12:30 and Claudette, who is on our team, is an excellent cook and she dropped off for me when she was picking up some open house signs from me today, a nice lunch of homemade Caribbean food.
Joe Bauer: What?
Synthia Melton: Ooo, that sounds amazing.
Julie Clark: Hello. Yeah. Although we all love Bongos, what’s up to our friend Matt Smith over at Bongos but today I’m eating the homegrown Caribbean so.
Joe Bauer: Wow.
Julie Clark: Yep. It’s a miracle I’ve been focused this long, lets put it that way.
Synthia Melton: Alright, guys, well, thank you so much. Joe, I will look out for your email and I’ll send you whatever information that you need. I know that was a lot. I feel like we didn’t cover some of the stuff.
Julie Clark: We’re still on. We’re still on. Hey, everybody. Yeah, were still talk … Hey you guys, this is how we roll. Well, we’re gonna talk about our weekend plans here too. You guys can all stay on with us if you want but we’re still recording this, I think, right?
Joe Bauer: Oh, yeah.
Julie Clark: Oh, yeah.
Synthia Melton: I’m a little okay.
Julie Clark: Good thing you didn’t tell that dirty joke that you [crosstalk 01:11:19]
Synthia Melton: Right.
Julie Clark: Woo. Alright, Joe, wrap us up and then we can listen to all of Synthia’s jokes.
Joe Bauer: Cool, yeah, thanks guys. If anybody wants to give us a review, we’d love it. Head over to SeattleInvestorsClub.com/iTunes and you two, I will talk to you all soon.
Julie Clark: Awesomesauce. Talk to you guys later.