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House Calls: Tenant Has Right to Sublease

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Ms. Lank: My husband and I are currently in an apartment but have been looking for a house for months now. Our lease is up on June 30.

A few days ago, our landlord sent a letter stating that we need to let him know whether or not we are going to resign for next year. He gave us three days to make the decision.

Not wanting to lose our apartment...Read more

House Calls: Discount Commissions

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Ms. Lank: I am going to take your advice and interview some agents about selling my house. How likely is it that they will negotiate how much they will charge in commission? Are the rates set by law, or can I bargain? -- L. W.

Answer: In any given area, real estate commissions cluster around one particular rate. Those rates are not set by law, ...Read more

House Calls: Closing Value

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Hi, Edith: I read an article in which a writer suggested a method of estimating the value of one's home by analyzing "closing values." You responded by saying in part that there's nothing more accurate than recent "comparable" sales.

My question to you is this: What was the writer's definition of "closing values"? I took that to mean selling ...Read more

House Calls: Nothing Down

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: We have a pretty good credit rating but not much cash. My father-in-law says there are ways to buy real estate with little or no money down. Is that just in the past, or is it still possible? -- B.

Answer: Yes, there are still ways to buy your own home with almost no cash, especially for first-timers. Your good credit rating is a ...Read more

House Calls: Closing Customs

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: My friends are buying a property in a different state. Both parties are finally ready for closing. It is scheduled for next week, the day after final walk-through.

They are paying cash. They were planning to bring a cashier's check to the closing, after the walk-through proves satisfactory. There is a branch of their bank in the new...Read more

House Calls: Good Schools Wanted

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Ms. Lank: Our family is moving out of state, and we will buy a new home in a new city. We have a Realtor, but she is not much help when we try to pick a neighborhood. I read advice that says to rent first to see if we really want to live there permanently, but we know we will. The biggest problem is the location of the good schools. The agent ...Read more

House Calls: Buying First Investment

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Ms. Lank: My husband has a chance to buy the house next door to us. They would give us a mortgage, and we would rent it out. He was wondering whether you have any guidelines for how we could know whether it would pay to do it. Any info or advice you have would be helpful. -- B. L.

Answer: You folks are following my standard advice: As real ...Read more

House Calls: Pricing to Sell

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: When we get ready to sell our home, should we pay for a professional appraiser or just rely on Realtors' suggestions? Can we call brokers if we're really going to sell on our own? -- P. I.

Answer: It's clearly unfair to mislead agents by asking for a free market analysis on the pretense that you're ready to list the property, but ...Read more

House Calls: What to Ignore

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: Before getting a real estate agent, we are going to try putting the house up for sale ourselves in the spring. It would help if you could give us some guidelines about how much to ask. Thanks in advance. -- G. S. O.

Answer: Let's start with factors to ignore:

--Your original cost. Suppose you received the house as a gift. Must you ...Read more

House Calls: House Doll-Up

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Ms. Lank: We need advice about fixing up the house for sale without spending much money. We are limited. What really matters? -- A.

Answer: Some brokers feel the condition of a house can make a difference of as much as 10 percent in the eventual sale price, or at the least determine how long it's likely to stay on the market.

You aren't going ...Read more

House Calls: Getting a Mortgage

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Ms. Lank: We found the house we want to buy without using an agent, but we aren't sure how to get a mortgage. Any advice is welcome. -- P. I.

Answer: If you have an account with a local bank, that's the place to start. It'll refer you to the mortgage department.

You don't "get" a mortgage, by the way. Quite the opposite: You actually give it. ...Read more

House Calls: Signing Purchase Contract

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: This is the first time we've bought a house, and our agent says when we find the right one, she'll draw up the contract and we'll sign it right there. My father always advised I should never sign a contract until a lawyer has looked it over for me. What is your advice about this? -- G. C. F.

Answer: For first-time buyers, signing a ...Read more

House Calls: Office or Bedroom

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: I'm enclosing two pictures. The first photo is the closet in our entryway. The second photo shows how the back of the closet is a wall shared with a 12-by-15-foot room that we use as a home office.

We're thinking about putting a door on the backside of the closet so it could be accessed from the office. We're thinking that this ...Read more


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