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House Calls: Oral Vs. Written Commitment

Edith Lank on

Dear Edith: I have applied for a mortgage loan to buy a house. I have been told by the loan counselor that I qualified for the loan. Should I ask for a written commitment, or do you think that an oral commitment suffices? -- G. H.

Answer: What you have is the counselor's personal opinion, based on the information you furnished when you applied for the loan. A binding commitment from the lending institution will follow in time, if all goes well.

Before you receive the loan, there must be confirming documentation about your debts, income, assets and credit rating. Equally important: The house itself must pass an appraisal.

Neighbor As Agent

Dear Ms. Lank: We are about ready to put our house on the market, but here is the problem: Our neighbor across the street is a real estate broker. We haven't been particularly close with him, but we do know him. Is there a standard rule or advice about using a neighbor as our real estate agent? We sort of feel we shouldn't. -- K. R.

Answer: Someone who knows the neighborhood well may be just the ticket to handle your property. Before you decide, though, judge your neighbor as you would any other prospective listing agent. Is he active in the sales of residential (as opposed to commercial) property? Does he concentrate on your part of town? Has he given satisfactory service to other sellers in the area?


Most important, do you feel comfortable with him, and does he inspire your confidence?

There's nothing wrong with contacting him to ask a few questions -- particularly about what part of town he specializes in.

Problem Tenant

Dear Edith: My wife and I own a building with four one-bedroom apartments. We have one tenant who, at one point, was almost five months behind on rent. It is an acquaintance of our son, and we knew he was having trouble holding a decent paying job, but he was never out of work for long. He was always trying, so we held out hope that things would turn around for him.


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