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House Calls: Hurricane Damage

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: We are buying a house in Cape Coral, Florida, and are supposed to close soon. The seller has evacuated and may not return.

If there is more than $5,000 damage, I can get out of the contract. But how is the amount of damage determined? Because of the scope of the storm, it may take weeks just to get an insurance adjuster there. -- to...Read more

House Calls: Closing on First Home

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: I am buying a house on my own, and this is my first time. The closing should be next week if all goes well, and I'm excited and also nervous about it. Do you have any tips on things I should look into while I'm waiting? Any advice about what to watch out for will be welcome. -- D. L.

Answer: Ask your agent to set up a last-minute ...Read more

House Calls: Different Opinion

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: My husband and I have been following the recent discussion in your column related to the removal of a mature hedge on a corner lot and replacement with white fencing. It seems that all feedback so far has been to retain the hedge.

Well, we are going to be the dissenting opinion.

We also live on a corner lot, and we have an in-...Read more

House Calls: Tenant Selection

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Ms. Lank: After letting her two-bedroom condo in New Jersey stand unused for many years, my wife has decided to rent it out. She wants to keep that furniture, so she's renting it out furnished.

We really want to be selective in the choice of a tenant. She engaged with a Realtor there, who sent us what the applicants or their agents ...Read more

House Calls: About the Hedge

Consumer / Edith Lank /

A few weeks ago, a reader wrote in about his mature hedge, which enclosed a corner lot. Since he is getting on in years, he was considering replacing it with a stretch of low-maintenance plastic white fencing. He asked how doing so might affect the sale price.

Quite a few people sent advice, and not one of them wanted that hedge taken down. ...Read more

House Calls: Minor Matters

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: Though my problems were not as major as your recent letter writers', I had a few strange experiences with my house.

Months after purchase, I finally got around to figuring out why the light over the sink would not operate, even with a new bulb. I unscrewed the fixture from the ceiling only to find out that it was simply a fixture ...Read more

Oral Agreements

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Ms. Lank: We are in a rental house. We like this neighborhood, and our children like the school. We talked to the landlady about buying, but she doesn't want to sell.

Last year, we told our neighbor that if he ever wanted to sell, we would buy his house. He promised to give us first right of refusal. Now he's getting ready to list his ...Read more

House Calls: Dream House Annoyances

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: My husband and I found the house of our dreams this year. I looked at it myself first and brought him back for a look, and we made an offer that was accepted.

We had an engineer inspection and a final walk-through before the closing, but there were things we didn't see until we moved in. We are so upset to find a small shelf of the ...Read more

House Calls: Are Buyers Picky?

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Ms. Lank: I will be selling my mother's house that my folks purchased in 1965. They also built it. It was our family home. I need to know whether it will sell better with new interior paint on the walls, door frames, crown molding, etc. Do buyers get that picky?

When I bought the house, it was brand-new. I have lived in it for over 30 years, so...Read more

House Calls: Inheriting Debts

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Hi, Edith: My mother has end-stage lung disease. In her will, I am the sole heir to her two properties, which are both underwater. Upon her death, do I simply continue making mortgage payments to the banks, or do I need to notify the mortgage holders of the change in ownership? -- G. and M. S.

Answer: "Underwater," for those unfamiliar with the...Read more

House Calls: Mortgagor, Mortgagee

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: I'm studying for my real estate license, and last week, we discussed mortgages. I still can't get "mortgagor" and "mortgagee" straight in my mind. I told our professor that I'd email you to see whether you could help. By the way, we sometimes talk about your column in class.

Wish me luck on the exam. -- L. C.

Answer: Perhaps the ...Read more

House Calls: Amateur Absentee Landlord

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Ms. Lank: I own a house in another state, and we rent it out. Last month, there was some water damage caused by water backing up through the toilets. The insurance company sent us pictures, and the damage was not very bad.

The damage caused by the renters, however, is very disappointing. The drains in both bathrooms and the kitchen leak. There ...Read more

House Calls: Gift From Parents

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: My aged parents are about to put their house in my name. What are the tax implications for me, other than annual property taxes? Is this considered a gift that I have to claim as income? -- M.

Answer: First, property taxes: Your folks could continue paying them if they wish, though they couldn't take them as income-tax deductions ...Read more


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