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Real Estate Matters: Original deed doesn’t guarantee property ownership

Q: My father and I purchased a home together with his VA loan. I provided the money to assist in the purchase, but I am not on the mortgage. But the property is deeded to me. My father also refinanced the property before he passed. Is the original deed with my name on it still valid? The property is now in his estate, I still make the payments ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: What does it mean to have a right of first refusal?

Q: We tried to purchase two different lots in a lake community about two hours from where we live. They have a right of first refusal clause in the bylaws of the community association. We had signed contracts on both of these lots.

The issue we had is that once we put in a contract for both of the lots, the owners then offered the lots to the ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Couple considers tapping into 401(k) for mortgage payments

Q: My husband turns 65 next month, and his private medical disability of around $4,000 will end. We have a monthly mortgage of $2,600, and one child with two years left in college. I take home $2,300 a month. Our home is currently worth $1.2 million, close to downtown D.C. and a walkable metro stop.

Can we pay off our house by taking out $300,...Read more

What happens if you miss putting an asset into a trust?

Q: I had a new will done and it was supposed to include everything I own, including my home, investments and other property. I now need to put my assets into the trust. I have three institutions that need to change my accounts to trusts.

I was able to do it easily with two, but I am having a very hard time making one understand what I want. ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: A child is better off inheriting property instead of being put on title before parent passes away

Q: My dad owns a duplex. He lives upstairs and rents the downstairs unit. He wants me to inherit the property after he dies. Should we transfer ownership of the property by will or by adding me to the deed?

I understand all about how the stepped-up basis works on a primary home when someone inherits it. But this is different — at least, I ...Read more

Stats shows home ownership dreams have been delayed for first-time buyers

Recently, the National Association of Realtors released their 2022 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. The news wasn’t good for first-time buyers or for those who have been waiting, impatiently, to buy their first home.

Just 26% of all buyers were first-time buyers. The reason? It’s so much more expensive to buy a home. Higher interest ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: If your name is not on the title, you’ll have trouble claiming home ownership

Q: My niece lives in a home that is owned by her former boyfriend. The boyfriend had taken out a loan on the home, but she has been paying the loan, the taxes, utilities and has maintained the home for the last 20 years.

He has recently left her. She was wondering if the house rightfully belongs to her. She has tried and tried to contact him ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Who can foreclose on lien on vacant condominium?

Q: Our condominium building has a unit where the owner died several years ago. No one has appeared to pay the real estate taxes or the homeowner association fees since the owner died. The association has a lien on the unit for the unpaid assessments.

Is this a situation where I could foreclose on the lien to obtain title to the property? If so,...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Couple wishes to convert second home into a primary residence. Can it be done?

Q: My husband was laid off several years ago, and took a job out of state. I convinced him to buy a small house to live in rather than paying rent to someone. He didn’t change his residency because he came home every weekend.

Once the pandemic started and he could work from home, the second home became available. So, we started renting it. We...Read more

Homeowner considers pocket deed to add home to trust

Q: I read your very informative article regarding taking out a loan when you own your home in a living trust.

I have been working on putting my townhome in my revocable trust but have had major pushback from two financial institutions, back when I first purchased the home in 2016 and then again when I refinanced last spring. Both institutions ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Condo owner forced to sell after building deconverted to rentals

Q: My daughter bought a condo several years ago. Her condo is located in a suburb of Chicago. Last summer, she was notified that the complex was going to be reconverted to rentals. She was offered a price for her place along with an extra amount if she committed to selling by a certain date.

My daughter does not have a lawyer. This management ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Can you quitclaim a foreclosed property?

Q: If a home is in foreclosure can you quitclaim the deed for the property to someone else?

A: We suspect that your question really is whether you can transfer ownership of your home to someone else to avoid foreclosure. The short answer is that you can transfer the property, but the foreclosure process stays with the property.

Remember, when ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Can you sue your homeowners association?

Q: Can a unit owner sue their homeowners association for their failure to comply with the association’s bylaws and rules? Which governmental entity or agency oversees homeowners associations?

A: Let’s answer your second question first: We’re not aware of any specific state-by-state agency that oversees homeowner associations. Homeowner ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Long-time home occupants getting the boot after owner/family member attempts to sell

Q: My great aunt helped my grandfather buy a home some years ago. She put the home in her name because his credit was shot and he couldn’t get a loan.

The trouble started when my grandfather passed away six years ago. My mother has been talking to my great aunt about transferring the home into her name. My mom and I live in the home. But my ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: New condo owner bothered by lack of soundproofing between units

Q: Last April, my daughter bought a new garden-level condo in a four-unit building. The upstairs unit was unoccupied until last month when a new family moved in. What she immediately discovered was that the upstairs floors (her ceiling) and the one adjacent to hers are not insulated for sound. The din from above is unbearable.

The owner, who is...Read more

My neighbor’s retaining wall runs just over the property line. Will it impact a future sale?

Q: My neighbor built retaining walls around his property about eight years ago. He recently sold the home. His retaining wall along my property encroaches onto my property by a bit less than a foot.

The county building department just told me that I have to repair the retaining wall. They say I am responsible since the violation is on my land. ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: How to handle sale of primary residence amid zoning changes

Q: I have a contract offer for my primary residence that is about 10 times what I thought the home was worth. The county I live in is changing the zoning from agriculture residential to commercial. The entire community is most likely becoming a data center campus. If I sell the home, I would have a sizable capital gains tax to pay. I was hoping ...Read more

The logistics of having two separate living trusts

Q: I notice that you often advise your readers to use a living trust to pass on a home to children. When both husband and wife who own the home jointly each have a trust, what determines whose trust the home is put into? I read your weekly column and have become much better informed as a result. Thank you.

A: Thank you for being a loyal reader ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Siblings consider selling home parents quitclaimed to them 15 years ago

Q: My parents quitclaimed their home to me and my brother 15 years ago. Their only condition back then was that we could not sell the home until both of them had passed.

Well, our parents have not passed and we have just accepted an offer on the house. We are trying to figure out what we will owe in taxes. We really don’t know the cost of the...Read more

Readers seek answers to questions about real estate and trusts

We’ve recently received some questions about trust issues that we suspect might be relevant to our general readership.

Q: My mother has sold a rental home that is in a trust account. Do I report the sale on her personal taxes or her trust account’s tax return?

A: You didn’t mention the type of trust your mom used to hold and own the ...Read more



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