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? -- askedith.com
Answer: First off, there's no point in discussing price. In the sale of real estate, oral offers, and even oral ...Read more
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
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
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
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."
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
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? -- askedith.com
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
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
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
Penny Properties 101 for DummiesTracy Phillips
If you always wanted to get into real estate investing but did not have the money. This book will show you how to do it.
This book shows you how to negotiate the best possible terms with the real estate owned (or REO) department of a bank or lender, including ...
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
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
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.
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
Dear Ms. Lank: I bought a house two years ago for which the seller's disclosure form answered "No" to questions about wet basement problems. It was a bald-faced lie.
I called a lawyer from one of the area's premier firms, and he told me: "Yeah, the seller lied, and if you sue, you'll probably win. But it'll cost you more than just repairing the...Read more