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Real Estate Matters: French homeowner in US ponders tax implications of selling home and moving back to France

Q: We’re a French family moving back to France next year. I read that a married homeowner who has lived in his principal residence for two out of the last five years is entitled to exclude from federal income taxes up to $500,000 in profits.

We bought the house less than two years ago. What happens in this case? On a separate note, we were ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: First-time homebuyer in Texas has difficulty finding an attorney

Q: I have a goal of becoming a first-time homebuyer soon. I picked up Ilyce’s “100 Questions Every First-Time Homebuyer Should Ask” book and found it very enlightening. So, let me begin by saying thank you!

I live in Texas and I am having difficulty finding a real estate attorney. I asked my co-workers, friends and even some real estate ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Senior couple prefers real estate transactions without using an agent

Reader comment: My husband and I sold a vacant lot in Texas this past year without any agents being involved. We have followed the market closely. We agreed on a price, filled out the documents and closed in an attorney’s office for a total cost of $250. We also purchased our present home in 2007 without a real estate agent.

It’s possible ...Read more

Homeowner seeks guidance on logistics of association board

Q: I wanted to comment on your recent column relating to the use of a homeowners association (HOA) pool during (the pandemic). Halfway through your answer you wrote, “You and your fellow residents voted in the board and they represent you.”

That seems like a reasonable statement, since in theory that’s how it’s supposed to work; but not...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Couple close to retirement considers refinance

Q: We borrowed $355,900 in 2007 for a 30-year fixed mortgage at 6.25% and still owe $230,000. My wife is retired, and I plan on retiring in May 2023. Normally, we wouldn't even bother with refinancing this close to selling the house; but the rates now are so low that we’re thinking refinancing might make sense. Any thoughts on whether it would...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Title company suggests buyer purchase enhanced coverage. Should she?

Q: Have you ever heard of “enhanced title”? A friend of mine is buying a home and the title company handling her purchase is offering that to her. I think she should take a pass. What do you think?

A: We’ve written about title insurance many times over the years, and in general, we like it — with some caveats, of course.

When you buy a...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Reader seeks advice on approaching neighbors with interest in purchasing their home

Q: I live in a suburb of Chicago and have two neighbors across the street who I have met a couple of times at block parties. Both are a bit older than I am. My guess is that at some point in the next five to 10 years these neighbors will move out and sell their home. They have the kind of property that a developer would likely buy, tear down and...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Woman’s claim to deceased ex’s home signifies the importance of estate planning

Q: My friend prepared his will and specified that his house would go to his girlfriend. She had contributed money to the upkeep while they were together.

At the time, they both owned the home. Subsequently, they decided to break up. When they split up, she agreed to quitclaim her interest to my friend in exchange for the amount she contributed ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: The best way to look for a house in another state

Q: Can you give me any advice on how to make it easier to look for a house when you live in a different state? I live almost four hours from the location I want to live in and by the time I make the drive, the houses already have pending offers. I thought I might just drive there and wait a day for an interesting listing, but I do not want to ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: As a buyer, have your own inspector do a professional home inspection

Q: I’ve always been told that when buying a house, I should ask to see any building permits to make sure major changes made to the house were built to code. However, I am constantly being told by home sellers that they did work to the home themselves over time, so they didn’t need permits, even if I know this not to be true.

This is a ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Reader’s experience with a pocket listing and discrimination sheds light on the problematic practice

READER COMMENT: I’ve been following your discussion of pocket listings with interest. I had an unfortunate experience with a broker who used a pocket listing to try to sell my father’s home. He blatantly used the pocket listing to discriminate and market the property only to members of the religious community dominating the area.

A house of...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Property owner suspects closing attorney made an error on the title

Q: Earlier this year, I sold my house through a real estate company. I then moved next door to a rental home I own. A few months later, I checked online to view the title to my property and noticed that the closing attorney used the legal description for both properties.

I only sold the newer home that I moved out of. The closing law firm did ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Is it better to transfer a title now or go through probate in the future?

Q: I enjoyed reading your recent article on the differences between using a will and a quitclaim deed in order to pass property to heirs or family members.

I’m writing to ask about my 91-year-old mother who still lives in her home. She has her will set up and has appointed me and my sister as her power of attorney during her lifetime and the ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Are mortgage payments still deductible on your federal income tax return?

Q: Is mortgage interest still deductible on our federal income taxes? Is there something new that I am not aware of? Is there some reason to not have a mortgage that is different from what we’ve always believed?

Here’s why I’m asking: All of a sudden, it seems like we can’t deduct the interest in our tax preparation software. So, we do ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Condo owner considers refinancing but struggles to find a lender

Q: Is it possible for you to refer me to a mortgage lender? I’m a single woman who would like to refinance the condominium I’ve lived in for the past 15 years. I have excellent credit. My monthly income seems to be a little shy of what lenders are looking for, by about $200 per month. My mortgage payment history is excellent.

A: Thank you ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Great home marketing starts with knowing who your buyer is

Q: I own a large farm that I have been trying to sell. I have had cattle, we do hay and have a hunting lease. But a buyer would not be able to make enough money to pay for this farm by operating it. I had it listed with two different agents who basically did nothing and made no suggestions. I no longer have it listed for sale.

What can I do to ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Homebuyer seeks advice on providing power of attorney while traveling abroad

Q: I recently signed a contract for the purchase of a home. I am traveling abroad soon and have given a financial power of attorney to a family member. I also gave them a durable power of attorney. Now I hear the title company in our purchase of the home may need a specific power of attorney for our purchase. Is it possible to provide a power of...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Homeowner in trouble after mortgage was sold to a different lender

Q: We have lived in our house for 15 years. About four years ago our mortgage was sold to a different loan servicing company. We called the new company several times over the course of a year and they said they have no record of our loan. We had no way to make our loan payments and now the real estate taxes have not been paid. We recently got ...Read more

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



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