House Calls: Selling to Minority
Dear Ms. Lank: I plan to sell my home in the near future.
There are already some minority families living in my neighborhood. Can I specify to my real estate agent that minority buyers be given priority during the sale of my home? -- F. Q.
It is illegal for you or your agent to express any preference or avoidance for buyers based on membership in any federally protected class. Those include race, religion, country of origin, gender, handicap and presence of children in a family. States often add other groups to those protected by federal laws, including age and marital status.
I suppose you could advertise -- and give preference to -- members of some nonprotected minority -- smokers, for example, or left-handed homebuyers. But if the minority you mention falls in a legally protected class, you cannot specifically seek people of that minority out, even with the best intentions.
Federal and state laws encourage the widest possible range of choices for homebuyers.
Exclusion After Death
Dear Edith: Would the $500,000 tax-free profit apply if a homeowner were to die while living in the house? The owner's will says it would be left to a younger person not residing in the home. Could the estate claim this credit? -- N. C.
Answer: If a house has been your main home for at least two of the five years before the sale, you can sell it and realize a profit of up to $250,000 free of federal income tax, or $500,000 if married filing jointly. (State laws vary.) This tax break can't be used by an estate or an heir, but it wouldn't be needed anyhow. The house would have a new cost basis, valued at the time of death. If it were sold soon after, there would probably be little or no taxable profit.
Signing Over Deed