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Real Estate Matters: Family living in multigenerational household seeks advice about finances, ownership

Q: My husband, daughter and I are planning to combine households with my mother. She is a widow with some new health problems, and no longer wishes to live alone.

We looked for a house to accommodate all of us, but as you know, the housing market is crazy. So, we decided to renovate her home. She plans to retain ownership of the house, but we ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Reader helps emphasize the importance of having a will

Reader comment: I am an estate attorney and had a case just like the one you described in a recent column where a person died without a will. In my situation, a man died unexpectedly of a heart attack, intestate. In other words, he had no will.

He left behind his girlfriend and their 23-year old son. All major assets, including the family home,...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Buyer experiencing septic woes believes seller is responsible for repairs

Q: I have a friend who purchased a home in 2019. He bought the home even though the home inspection found the property had a bad septic system.

Are the sellers responsible to fix/replace it? How long do they have to do so? The sellers said they would fix the septic system, but they have been avoiding my friend’s real estate agent. He figured ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Homeowner overwhelmed by pages and pages of documents

Q: I purchased a house and several years later got a home equity line of credit. I remortgaged the house several times along the way. For each of these transactions, I received a folder filled with documents related to each loan and probably have a couple hundred pages including appraisals, addendums and other documents.

But all this paperwork ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Siblings seek clarity after receiving confusing advice from estate attorney

Q: I just read your recent article about how siblings should talk through their mother’s estate. I am in the same situation, but it relates to our father’s estate.

The estate lawyer we talked to about estate planning told us that you cannot get one-half of the value of the house and keep the house. In our case, there are three of us. So he ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Some negotiations at an impasse after home inspection

Q: Why do so many buyers, agents and inspectors have the impression that home inspections are designed to develop “punch lists” of minor issues they expect sellers to remedy before closing?

My understanding is that, per the standard real estate contract language, inspections are simply to guarantee “habitability,” i.e., integrity of the...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Parents concerned about selling property to child due to capital gains taxes

Q: I have lived in my parents’ house for the past 19 years. I’ve been paying rent the entire time. They want to sell it to me for less than the market value but are afraid of the huge capital gains taxes. The home was purchased 19 years ago for $120,000 and the home has doubled in value. If they sell the home to me under the market value, ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Seller files emergency motion to access house after closing

Q: I bought a house after a fire. The sale was “as is.” After closing, the seller filed an emergency motion to access the house two times up to two weeks after her move out of the home. The house’s roof is half collapsed, and the home is not safe. I asked the seller to sign a waiver if she gets injured, but the seller refused. How do I ...Read more

Readers respond to seniors who felt stuck in their home

A few weeks ago, we published a question from seniors who felt they were stuck in their home. They didn’t qualify for a new mortgage and couldn’t refinance their existing mortgage.

The story struck a nerve with a number of readers who wrote to offer support and suggestions. Here is a sampling of their comments.

Comment: I am over 65 and ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Homeowner interested in preserving scenic view by buying a portion of neighbor’s property

Q: We live in a subdivision that was built in 1962. The houses are situated on irregularly shaped lots to form an open area that is landscaped with vistas of mature trees and a leafy, verdant backdrop. Property lines are marked with very low, split-rail fences. We have an open airy feeling in our subdivision. Our picture window looks out over a ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: What, exactly, is covered in a home warranty?

Q: I viewed your YouTube video on home warranties. We live in a 10-year old home in the country. We have a well with a submersible pump and we need to know if in addition to taking care of appliances, would a home warranty also take care of the pump and other assorted plumbing problems if something goes wrong? And can you recommend a good ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Readers comment on reverse mortgages, we respond

There are certain real estate topics that seem to generate a fair amount of excitement and interest among our readers. One of those is a reverse mortgage.

A reverse mortgage allows homeowners aged 62 and older to convert their home equity into either a single lump sum or regular payments, which can be used to fix up the property or travel or ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Resident questions inquiry from assessor’s office

Q: I have a question about a letter I received from my county assessor’s office. I live in Maricopa County, Arizona. The form asks how many people live in our home and what we’re doing with the home. The form also states that if we don’t respond, they will fine us.

My take is that it’s none of their business how many people live in my ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Unmarried couple questions how to leave property to their son

Q: I have a question about adding a name to the deed of a house. My boyfriend (we have never married) and I have one son together. Our son has my last name and is now an adult. My boyfriend is the one who bought the home we live in and the home is in his name.

He is now thinking about the future in case something should happen to him. He is ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Woman seeks help to fix errors on 25-year-old quitclaim deed

Q: I own a home that my mother gave me by quitclaim deed. She did this two months before she passed away.

The attorney who handled my mother’s legal affairs before she died mistakenly put my maiden name on the deed, as opposed to my married legal name. To make matters worse, she admittedly also put my wrong middle initial on the deed. This ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Family seeks advice on change of ownership of property acquired through a 1031 exchange

Q: I just watched one of your YouTube videos about 1031 exchanges. We are a family of investors and have done quite a few 1031 exchanges. How do we facilitate the change of ownership on a property that was acquired through a 1031? My parents want to transfer the ownership of a few of their properties to me and my siblings.

A: For starters, a ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Are real estate attorneys necessary in residential closings?

Q: I read your article on using real estate attorneys in residential closings. What a bunch of drivel. I have handled tens of thousands, if not over 200,000 closings, settlements and escrows in all 50 states since 1996 and have found the greatest costs are always in states where we had to use attorneys.

Tell me why one would need a survey on a ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Renter believes condo association fees are excessive

Q: I have a condo that I rent. The condo association has started a new annual fee of $600 to cover administrative costs for rentals. The association also now charges $350 every time a renter moves in or out of the building.

The move in and out fees cover the cost of reserving the elevator and placing padding on the elevator walls. Previously, ...Read more

Daughter seeks to help parents with mortgage, credit card debt by buying their house

Q: I am one of three daughters who will inherit our home when our parents pass away. They have a mortgage on the home and some credit card debt. Would it be wise for us to purchase their home before their death, so their mortgage debt is paid off?

I recently sold my home and have money from that sale. I don’t want my parents to die with all ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Tenant seeks to gain ownership of recently sold home

Q: I have lived in a house for the past three years and received a letter stating the house was sold for unpaid taxes. I’ve tried reaching the homeowners, but they won’t respond. If I pay the back taxes on the house can I claim ownership in West Virginia?

A: The short answer to your questions is no. You can’t simply pay the real estate ...Read more



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