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Real Estate Matters: Buying a property without an agent could cost you

Q: What do you think about buying a property without a buyer’s agent? What tips would you share for home buyers who do not want to use an agent?

A: Every year, a relatively small number of homes (roughly 11% in 2018, according to the National Association of Realtors) are bought and sold without the use of a real estate agent. Some buyers ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Resident seeks guidance on convincing board to open pool

Q: How do I get our homeowners association board to open up our building’s three pools, all of which have been closed since March due to the pandemic? The board members say they are concerned that if someone gets COVID-19, they will be sued and will have to pay a huge sum to settle the dispute.

There are about a dozen of us that are avid ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Ex-wife living abroad may have ties to home of deceased former partner

Q: My stepfather bought a house in Miami in 1999 and he included my mom on the title of the property at that time. It's not clear to me exactly how they held title, but I would say it was probably joint tenancy, because percentages of ownership are not mentioned in the deed.

They divorced in 2007, and we have only recently found out that he ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: We’re addressing another concern about pocket listings

Reader comment: You recently answered a question about a home seller paying the commission to an agent for a “pocket listing.” You bypass the larger issue and the reason that so-called pocket listings are against the National Association of Realtor (NAR) rules. “Pocket listings” are against Fair Housing rules. You should put an addendum ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: First-time homebuyer considers hiring attorney for closing

Q: I’m a little embarrassed to ask this question, but do I need to hire an attorney for closing? I’m a first-time homebuyer purchasing a new construction home and I hope to close at the beginning of next month.

I have not received the actual closing date yet. The attorney that is holding my earnest money sent me an email stating they will ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Reader insight on the couple near retirement refinancing their home

We recently received a long comment on one of our questions regarding a homeowner who was deciding whether to refinance their home before retiring. Our correspondent is a mortgage industry veteran of many years and we thought you’d benefit from his perspective.

(And, we’ll just add that hearing from our readers, whether directly through ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Should condo association postpone board vote due to COVID-19?

Q: I live in a condominium building with around 100 units. We have seven board members and we are supposed to vote on some new board members this fall. Residents will not attend open board meetings this fall due to COVID-19. Going door-to-door with proxies is not going to be equitable. Can we legally go against our bylaws and postpone the ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Will vs. quitclaim deed - Which one wins out in the end?

Q: My friend filled out a will before she married her last husband. She owned a house, and when she married she did a quitclaim deed with her husband. Does the will still stand or does the husband get the house? She died a year ago and he wants to sell the house to use the money.

A: We get this question often and people tend to get confused ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: US citizen wishes to sell overseas property and reinvest funds in California property

Q: I own a piece of real estate overseas and I’ve owned it for quite some time, even before I became a U.S. citizen. I would like to sell the property, bring back the money to the U.S. and invest in a home in California.

What would I need to do to bring the money here and invest it? How can I bring money to the U.S. so I don’t have a ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Homeowner seeks advice for dealing with failed septic system

Q: We found out a couple of months ago that the leach field of our septic system has failed. The field is on our neighbor’s property. It was our neighbor who turned us in to the local code enforcer.

A little history: We bought the house from a contractor who was selling the house. He denied knowing anything about the septic system. We found ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Florida residents worried about COVID-19 quarantine rules in 55-plus community

Q: We live in Florida in a 55-plus condominium development. Do residents who visit out-of-state folks need to quarantine themselves upon return? And, what about residents who have out-of-state guests staying in their home? It is the community swimming pool (where everyone tends to congregate) that makes me nervous.

A: The COVID-19 pandemic is ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: How to establish credit before purchasing your first car or home

Q: I’m in the process of buying my first car (researching, calculating finances) and I wanted to ask what your advice would be as I currently have no credit history. After I buy a car, I’m going to start looking for a home.

How do I best establish my credit? Alternatively, are there other options available to me so I can purchase a car or ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Couple considers refinance to take advantage of historically low interest rates

Q: When we bought our house, I read several of Ilyce’s books. They not only empowered me to stand up to mortgage agents, but they also saved us tens of thousands of dollars. I have since passed the books along to a brother-in-law who is looking at buying a home.

Now we are looking to refinance our mortgage, solely to take advantage of low ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Out-of-state college student seeks to break lease due to COVID-19

Q: In January, my grandson and three of his friends agreed to rent a four-bedroom apartment near the campus starting in August, when school was supposed to resume. They signed the lease in January. The four students each signed separate leases (with parents co-signing), and each student put up two months of rent upfront, totaling $1,600 each.

...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Economic turmoil spells trouble for unemployed

Q: In a recent column, it was stated that “nearly 80% of Americans were living paycheck to paycheck before the pandemic…” I want to know how you define living paycheck-to-paycheck, when that implies having no savings or residual discretionary cash to spend. Are you saying that necessary day-to-day living expenses consume each paycheck?

...Read more

Real Estate Matters: How do unemployment and the Paycheck Protection Program affect the housing market?

Q: Do you think unemployment will skyrocket when the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) money runs out? I know many business owners who will pay employees with PPP money for eight weeks then lay them off. I will be doing that with 25% of my employees.

Can you guess at an unemployment rise number as the stimulus funds run out? I heard a ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Homeowner with underwater mortgage contemplates foreclosure

Q: I am a widow in my 70s and my mortgage is underwater. In addition, the house is in need of much repair. Can I just let the bank foreclose and move on? I don’t want to buy again, just rent.

A: It sounds like you’ve given up on your home, and on the idea of homeownership.

When a home is underwater, the value of the mortgage amount you ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Condo association erects ‘private property’ signs

Q: If our condo association posts “private property” signs, are there any implications?

A: We’re not sure what you mean by “implications.” Your condo association, like any other private property owner has the right to post signs on their own property to indicate that it’s their own private property. Frequently, property owners will ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Seller believes buyer’s agent requested a ‘pocket listing’

Q: I am a seller who has an agent that claims he has a buyer for my property. He wants to do a pocket listing. I am absolutely outraged by this. The man is not going to spend one dollar on advertising or pay any Realtor multiple listing service fees or other fees. He is not going to spend one minute working or do any work of any form.

He just ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Hiring an attorney to assist with the purchase of a short sale is a good idea

Q: Do I need an attorney to bid on or purchase a short sale real estate condominium?

A: In some parts of the country, using a real estate attorney to close a residential purchase isn’t the norm. In other areas, hiring an attorney is an accepted and necessary part of the process.

As Sam is a real estate attorney, when we’re asked this ...Read more



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