Home & Leisure

House Calls: Dropping Escrow

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: You discussed escrow in a recent column, but you didn't say whether I could talk my bank into letting me get out of it. Do you have any advice? -- P. I.

Answer: If you were to not keep up with your fire insurance premiums and the building burned down, you'd be left with just the value of the lot. If you were to not pay your property...Read more

House Calls: Worried About Transfer on Death

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: When my parents died, my brother and I inherited their house. I live in it now. I'm 70 years old, and I have reasons for needing the house to only be in my name. My brother says I can just take his name off the deed and write him in a will. But I read that transfer on death is not allowed in my state. Do you have any ideas for how I ...Read more

House Calls: What to Read

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Ms. Lank: Please give us the names of books that neophyte home sellers should read before selling. -- D. N. I.

Answer: The first book that comes to mind is one I wrote myself years ago: "The Homeseller's Kit." It's out of print and so old the earlier editions don't even mention the internet, but it still contains plenty of good old-fashioned ...Read more

How Much to Offer

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Mrs. Lank: We have been house hunting for several months, and we are ready to write up an offer for one we like. Do you have any advice on how much to offer? -- X. X.

Answer: Before you begin and your emotions take over, settle in your minds the top price you'll pay if you have to, and don't share it with anyone.

Some sellers who hate ...Read more

House Calls: They Prefer Renting

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Ms. Lank: We are 63 and 68 years old and still working. We sold our home and relocated across the country a couple of years ago for our current jobs. We are renting a house and really have no desire to be homeowners. Of course, we miss the interest deduction on our taxes! But we have no debt and have substantial savings, individual retirement ...Read more

House Calls: Reselling Mortgages

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Hi, Edith: In a recent column, someone asked about escrow. You educated them, but it made me think particularly about mortgages being sold.

I bought my house in 2014. My lender is in a different state. I handle my taxes and pay my own homeowners insurance. I send extra money in with my mortgage payment each month. It amounts to one extra ...Read more

House Calls: Losing Money with Two Homes

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: I am trying to downsize from my large upscale house to a much smaller house. My small house is complete, but my large house is not selling. My Realtor dropped the price three times in six months, to far less than I paid for the place, but to no avail. I am now contemplating putting out an advertisement that says, "Best offer by two ...Read more

House Calls: That Escrow Account

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: Our purchase offer was accepted, and we are excited about moving into our new home. But we have a question about our monthly mortgage payment. It's more than we figured because of escrow. We have a good record of paying our bills, but the bank says it will collect every month and keep track and pay our taxes and insurance. Is this ...Read more

House Calls: Timeshare Worked Out

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: I want to share my story and that of my siblings. There are three of us. We inherited a timeshare from our mother, and we paid the yearly fees. It was great for many years, but the yearly cost kept climbing, and we all wanted to sell it when our mom passed away.

We listed it with the condo organization, and it charged a high real ...Read more

House Calls: What to Look For

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Ms. Lank: We just put our home on the market without a broker. We'll take any offers we receive to our lawyer, but could you give us an idea of what to watch out for? -- P. I.

Answer: First of all, understand that in the sale of real estate, oral agreements are not enforceable. If a buyer says, "Would you take $10,000 less than your asking...Read more

House Calls: Inheriting a House and Land

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Ms. Lank: It seems I will soon come into ownership (via my mother's passing) of a property that is divided in two portions: a home and 10 acres that are more suited for commercial development. How would tax reporting and capital gains be handled if the property is divided as such and then only one of the two portions is sold? How does one value ...Read more

House Calls: What About Tipping?

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: We are buying our first house, and we're both so pleased with the extra help our real estate agent has been giving us. She will be paid by the sellers, and we won't have much spare cash, but are there any guidelines for tipping? -- L. W.

Answer: Depending on the law in your state and the type of license she has, she might not be ...Read more

House Calls: Selling on Their Own

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: We are just starting to sell our house by ourselves. The idea is that by eliminating the broker's commission we can set the price lower and attract more buyers. We could use advice about how to avoid wasting our time with people who are just joyriding and can't really afford to buy or don't even intend to. Is there anything we can do...Read more


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