Home & Leisure



Get the Best Expert Help When Selling Vacant Land

Home & Leisure / Dear Monty /

Dear Monty: My parents own about 20 acres of land on the outskirts of a growing suburb in Iowa. They are in their 60s and want to sell; they're still determining the best way to sell or market it. Should they divide it into lots for development, sell it as farmland or sell as a single lot to someone who wants a country home? What type of ...Read more

How to Upgrade to a New Home in a New City

Home & Leisure / Dear Monty /

Dear Monty: We have concerns about selling our first home and buying our second. We had a horrendous experience buying our first home. I know you hear that often, but our friends and colleagues are in disbelief when they hear the story. We want to avoid a repeat experience. We would like you to give us feedback on a few questions.

No. 1: We ...Read more

Five Options for Downsizing in Turbulent Times

Home & Leisure / Dear Monty /

Dear Monty: I'm trying to decide what to do. I have a chance to buy a new home under construction. The builder will finish the home by spring. I have several reasons for downsizing now: I love change; I have friends living in the neighborhood; it's closer to many activities that I enjoy; a new home has little maintenance for the first 20 years...Read more

Agent Advice Creates Homebuyer Suspicion

Home & Leisure / Dear Monty /

Dear Monty: My agent keeps telling me to submit offers of $100k over asking. Our price range is from $900k up to $1.4 million. Southern California is the area. Should we be worried about her tactics in this market? She keeps telling us a cash investor offer will beat us out, and if we go over at least $100k, we will have a fighting chance. A ...Read more

A Homeowner Loses $410k to Insurance Company

Home & Leisure / Dear Monty /

Dear Monty: Our washing machine hose ruptured and flooded the house. Our house insurance company (let's call it "HIC") forced us to use the restoration contractor they pitched. The contractor we wanted wasn't available for "two to three" months, and HIC couldn't wait. They said they would only cover our temporary housing if we went with their ...Read more

The Best Way to Buy Without a Home Sale Contingency

Home & Leisure / Dear Monty /

Dear Monty: We are looking to buy. We've lost out on five homes. We currently own a home with about $270,000 in equity. In making offers, we've included the home sale contingency. Sellers don't like that. We've tried offers without a home sale contingency but with only a small down payment (conventional loan -- we're already through ...Read more

Change Homes or Remodel in the Current Economy

Home & Leisure / Dear Monty /

Dear Monty: We bought our first home in 2008. It was $90k. We were in debt with child care, student loans, credit cards, car payments and a mortgage. Now, except for our mortgage, we are debt-free and have a savings account. It sounds like we should buy a new home. We are thinking "No way." Our interest rate will double. Our mortgage payment ...Read more

Land Contract Risks and Solutions

Home & Leisure / Dear Monty /

Dear Monty: I have a builder who wants to buy my house using the seller financing method. I know nothing about this and want to avoid getting ripped off. The builder wants to use a seller financing method because it's costly to get permits in my city and it will take several months to get permits. He is also concerned about the high interest ...Read more

Agent Ethics Questioned

Home & Leisure / Dear Monty /

Dear Monty: We accepted an offer on our house. Our agent brought an offer close to asking, and we accepted. Two days later, a buyer called wondering why we hadn't responded to their full-price offer. We told them we were not aware of it. Our agent told us that the offer came in after we had accepted. The second buyer disputed our agent's claim...Read more

Should We Give a Real Estate Agent a Bad Review?

Home & Leisure / Dear Monty /

Dear Monty: We just interviewed a real estate agent. A friend referred the agent to us. While they presented themselves professionally as we traded information, we shared that we were cautious because of a bad experience in the past. Asking our friend for a suggestion was a way to minimize a repeat experience. As it turned out, the agent ...Read more

How Real Is Real Estate Identity Theft?

Home & Leisure / Dear Monty /

Dear Monty: I submitted a land combination form to the county government. I want to combine two adjoining parcels of land. The municipality is now saying that " by law," my wife and I must submit photocopies of our driver's licenses. Is this a law? I don't mind showing my ID to prove who I am, but submitting copies of it, with all the identity...Read more

Keep a Notebook of Verbal Conversations

Home & Leisure / Dear Monty /

Dear Monty: I worked with an agent to sell and purchase a home. I found a home; however, after making an offer, I discovered it was in an HOA. I don't want to live in an HOA. My agent knows the agent who was selling the house. I asked if we could back out of the offer; I gave no earnest money, and the seller hadn't signed the offer. I put the ...Read more

Rent to Own in the New Economy

Home & Leisure / Dear Monty /

Dear Monty: We want a rent-to-own agreement on a house we jointly own with my husband's mother. The place is owned free and clear. We want to buy her out in about two years. What are both parties' legal obligations in a rent-to-own situation? Do we have to give her a down payment? How will we handle real estate taxes? What fees do we have to ...Read more



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