Home & Leisure

House Calls: Like a Car

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Ms. Lank: My cousins bought their timeshare from a place called RCI. They are allowed to trade the timeshare for another one in any place where RCI has timeshares, including Hawaii. There is a $175 fee to trade.

They are very happy with their timeshare and use it pretty much every year. I expect that not all timeshares are alike, though. ...Read more

House Calls: Negotiating Advice

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Ms. Lank: When we received a full-price offer on our home, it included a percentage reduction to assist with closing costs. Is the percentage negotiable? Because clearly we can't negotiate the purchase price offer. -- C.S.

Answer: Your buyers are offering (in writing) to pay your full asking price but want you to pay some of the closing costs ...Read more

House Calls: What's Fiduciary?

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: I heard recently that financial advisors must now be fiduciaries, and that real estate agents have always been. Exactly what does that mean? -- J. M.

Answer: State laws can vary in this matter, but usually the real estate agent has a special fiduciary relationship to the principal (the client) for whom he or she is acting. Years ago...Read more

House Calls: Visiting Open Houses

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: My significant other and I very much enjoy visiting houses to see what the owners have done in the way of decorating, etc. If we're not looking to buy our own place, can we visit open houses anyhow? She thinks maybe it's cheating. -- F. Q.

Answer: Brokers might be lonely giving up a weekend afternoon to sit in an empty house, and I'...Read more

House Calls: What Mortgage Should They Look For?

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Edith: We are planning to buy our first home. Between us we have good income and pretty good credit, but not all that much cash for a down payment. Also, we are not married. Does that make a difference? What kind of mortgage should we be looking for? -- P. I.

Answer: Mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration, also known as FHA ...Read more

House Calls: Only If

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: I know you wrote about this in past columns, but I didn't save them. I have fallen in love with a nearby house that's not on the market yet, and the owner says that he doesn't want any brokers or contingencies. What are contingencies? --

Answer: A contingency is an uncertain future event with some other event that ...Read more

House Calls: Happy Owners Don't Write

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: It seems like all I read about timeshares is how awful they are to get rid of, and how people are unhappy with them. Are there folks who like their timeshare? Is it a case of you only hearing about the problems, not the successes? If I were interested in one, what would your advice be? --

Answer: I'm sure there are lots...Read more

House Calls: No Down Payment

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: I'm interested in buying a house. We don't have the down payment, and I'm not a military veteran. Your attention to this matter will be appreciated. -- E. M. R.

Answer: If one of you is in law enforcement, a firefighter, an emergency medical technician or a teacher of pre-K through 12th grade, look for a lender that handles the GNND...Read more

House Calls: Take-Back Mortgage

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Ms. Lank: We want to buy a house in East Rochester, New York. The owner is an old man who lives next door to it. He says he'll lend us the money to buy at a low interest rate and hold a balloon mortgage instead of us going for a bank loan. The price looks right.

Is this a good way to buy? What should we watch out for? -- N. R. P.

Answer: ...Read more

House Calls: All-Cash Precautions

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: I am going to buy my first home for all cash with money from a recent inheritance. Anything special I should watch out for? -- N. R.

Answer: All cash means a prompt, trouble-free sale, which -- depending on the state of your local market -- may be worth a price concession on the seller's part. Be sure to sign the contract with the ...Read more

House Calls: Title Insurance or Opinion

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: What do you think of title insurance versus title opinion? I own half of 200 acres of property with a house, and I am buying the other half with cash. I have an abstract of title that goes back to 1861. My family has owned it since the 1940s.

Is it a good idea to get title insurance, and what will that do for me? Or does title ...Read more

House Calls: Suggesting an Agent

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: One other piece of advice to a widow leaving a house to multiple children, especially if they live outside her immediate area, is to choose a real estate agent in advance. If the family members are from out of town, they might not be able to easily identify the best agent to help get the best value for the property. There are agents ...Read more

House Calls: Showing the House

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: Several Realtors have told us they know the best way to show a house to buyers, but we want to try without using a broker. Is there really a special professional way to do that? -- P. I.

Answer: Professionals have indeed developed systems that give buyers the best chance to judge a property.

Ask for advance notice whenever possible...Read more


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