Dear Edith: I'm responding to the person who thinks that neighbors shouldn't be welcome at an open house. The house across the street from me is now occupied by the family who lived across from me at a former location. And the house about six doors up the street is now occupied by the family who bought my house at my former location. You just ...Read more
Ms. Lank: My daughter gave me a hard time because my house is only in my name now that my husband died. I would appreciate your explanation of why it is not wise to put the house in the children's name. I have four daughters. God bless them, but I hate arguments. -- R. J. C.
Answer: Sometimes it pays to put your house in the children's names. ...Read more
Dear Edith: Is HARP, the government program, worth the time? I keep getting banks calling us saying how good a deal it is. We owe $124,000 and have a 30-year loan. We pay $100 extra a month, and the loan has 4 percent interest. -- no signature
Answer: HARP is the federal Home Affordable Refinance Program. It offers those with higher interest ...Read more
Ms. Lank: Recently, someone wrote that one shouldn't attend an open house for decor ideas or just to be nosy. I beg to differ.
I have stopped by quite a few open houses in my area when they weren't busy, and the salesperson is always glad to chat and pick my brain about the neighborhood, schools, etc.
The open house gives me an idea of what I ...Read more
Dear Edith: The first day my husband and I were out looking at houses, we saw a home that we loved but felt uncomfortable making an offer because we had not seen many houses.
How many houses should we look at before making a decision? -- C.
Answer: Same as the number of guys you dated before choosing your husband.
But seriously, your agent, ...Read more
Edith: With respect to your recent column about open house looky-loos, I do not agree with your reply. Most sellers do not want a bunch of people (mostly neighbors) traipsing through their house looking for decorating ideas. That's why we have the internet. Those folks should give it a try.
The whole point of an open house is to attract buyers ...Read more
Hello, Edith: I want you to know that this letter has nothing to do with tax problems. Edith, I don't know what to do.
First of all, I'm incarcerated, and I have been for the last year.
The reason is my husband was sleeping around with another woman, and I walked in on them at our home and lost it with a golf club, leaving my husband with 10 ...Read more
Hi, Ms. Lank: I am a retired science teacher, and I got my real estate license eight months ago. When my wife and I were looking to buy our first house back in the early '80s, I frequently read your column. If my memory is correct, you wrote about new agents being like a new broom; they sweep clean. I'd like to use that quote as a reason for why...Read more
Ms. Lank: Please explain the IRS requirements regarding one-time $250,000 tax exemption when the elderly sell their home. -- E. B. C.
Answer: The regulations you're asking about have been changed -- to the home sellers' advantage -- over the years.
The IRS no longer sets age limits on this tax break, so the homeowners needn't be elderly. It's ...Read more
Dear Ms. Lank: I am taking your advice to interview three agents before picking one to sell my home. Do you have advice about how to judge them when they get here? -- F. I.
Answer: Those initial interviews will cost you nothing, and you won't be obligated in any way. Even if you like the first one who calls, keep all three appointments before ...Read more
Dear Ms. Lank: We have read your column for several years while we are renting, and now we are ready to look at houses to buy. We have a real estate agent we like, but it would be great if you could send us some advice now that we're starting to look. We appreciate any advice. -- D. G. and R. G.
Answer: You may be sure about what kind of home ...Read more
Dear Edith: We are buying our first home, and they've set a date for the closing. What should we expect, and what should we look out for? Anything we should do in advance? -- H. R.
Answer: If you or the seller is using a broker, that's the person to arrange a last-minute walk-through for you. Perhaps your sales contract stipulates that, but in ...Read more
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