Home & Leisure

House Calls: Investment Property

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Ms. Lank: My wife is all fired up about the real estate people we see on TV. Do you have an opinion about investing in the courses they offer? They offer a free session at a motel here. Any advice about investing in real estate will be welcome. -- W. V.

Answer: Real estate has been called not only the best way to build an estate but even the ...Read more

House Calls: Price to Offer

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Ms. Lank: We need advice fast. We've found the house we want. What can we do to feel out the seller before we sign anything? Is it usual to start low and bargain back and forth? Does an offer have to be written? --

Answer: First off, there's no point in discussing price. In the sale of real estate, oral offers, and even oral ...Read more

House Calls: Worried About Zillow

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: I have a question about appraisals and home values.

Our house is appraised for tax purposes at a lower value than the house next door, which has greater square footage. The houses were built on same-sized lots about 20 years ago. But our neighbor's house is dated inside, while ours has an updated kitchen and interior and updated ...Read more

House Calls: Finding the Bargains

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: We are just starting out, and we can afford to buy a home if we can find a bargain. But we don't want to make a mistake and end up with problems. We'd appreciate any advice. -- R. J.

Answer: Yes, perfectly good bargain houses are out there. Let's start with housekeeping: As you park across the street, the agent says: "Now, I want to...Read more

House Calls: Judgment Problem

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Edith: Five siblings have a contract to sell their father's house that they inherited. One has a judgment against him. The broker says the house can't close without that judgment being paid off. None of the others want to pay the judgment, because it is more than that sibling's one-fifth share of the sale proceeds.

Is there any way to get ...Read more

House Calls: Consult a CPA

Consumer / Edith Lank /

I try to hold the "see a lawyer" response down to once a week, but this week's response to keep down could probably be "consult a CPA."

Trust Beneficiary

Dear Mrs. Lank: My mother-in-law sold her house in 2016. The house was built in 1955 for $60,000. The house sold for $169,000. There were approximately $75,000 worth of improvements ...Read more

House Calls: Becoming Owner

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: To settle a bet, I'd like to know: When exactly does homeownership transfer? Is it when the new deed is entered in the public records office? --

Answer: Way back when few people could read or write, the seller of land would pick up a clod of earth and hand it to the buyer, who would seize it and become owner of that ...Read more

House Calls: Once a Duplex

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Ms. Lank: I own a house in the city in an area that is older but still has mainly single-family dwellings. Years ago, the house was a duplex, but walls were removed to make it a single-family unit. The address still shows the two numbers as if it were still a duplex.

I want to restore it to a duplex. I would like to stay in it but would need ...Read more

House Calls: Readers Offer Corrections

Consumer / Edith Lank /

It's my own fault. I'm breaking the rule I made maybe 40 years ago that says to stay away from items about real estate closings. The settlement procedures in which sellers finally turn over ownership to buyers vary widely from one area to another.

A real estate lawyer in Honolulu once told me that when he gets a phone call asking whether he'd ...Read more

House Calls: How Long to Wait

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: You have advised that a house priced right will sell, and if it is not selling, it could be priced too high for the market.

Obviously, all situations are unique, but is there a good rule of thumb about how long should you let a house be on the market before reducing the price? Does a month suffice? Supposedly, the real estate market...Read more

House Calls: Change the Locks

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: When you wrote about real estate closings, one of the things you did not mention was to change the locks, or have the lock cylinders changed, so that the old keys no longer work.

We trust that the old owners would not have kept any keys, but we don't know who else might have been given a hard copy over the years, like a house sitter...Read more

House Calls: Grandchild Buying

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: My father-in-law is moving from his home of 60 years to assisted living. One of his grandchildren wants to buy the house, possibly in a cash deal. What is the best way to set a fair market value? Are we naive to think we can make the transaction with just a lawyer and no Realtor? What "gotchas" should we be careful about? -- M. D.

...Read more

House Calls: Quiet Enjoyment

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: Recently, a man with a toddler moved into the apartment next door to me, and since then, I haven't had any peace. I've tried to be understanding, but the plain fact is I don't want to live next door to this noisy kid and I was here first. Do I have any rights in this situation? -- S.

Answer: You can certainly make a fuss to your ...Read more


Social Connections


Rugrats Ken Catalino Fort Knox Non Sequitur Wee Pals Diamond Lil