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Real Estate Matters: Reader concerned about home ownership after someone paid deceased uncle’s property taxes

Q: Someone paid my deceased uncle’s property taxes before I could pay them. Does this mean that person now owns the property? The property has a mortgage on it. What should I do next?

A: Here’s the good news: Just because someone paid the taxes on your deceased uncle’s property does not mean that they get to claim ownership of the home.

...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Small townhome community has difficulty finding board members for HOA

Q: We live in a small townhome community of 24 houses in Maryland. We have a homeowners association (HOA), and it is generally very mellow, without any crazy restrictions.

Our issue is that we cannot get anyone to be on the board of directors. We currently have a person in the treasurer role. She is happy to send out HOA dues notices, collect ...Read more

Rick Steves' Europe: Parent concerned about inheritance of home owned with married son

Q: I purchased a house with my married son several years ago for him to live in. My husband and I gave him the money for the down payment. Only my credit was checked when we purchased it.

Both my son’s name and my name are on the deed to the home that my son lives in. His wife, whom he was married to at the time of the purchase is not on the ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Children concerned about tax implications after selling gifted home and returning money to parents

Q: My parents gave their house to their children but continued to live in it and pay all expenses related to the home. Life happened, and my parents needed money from the house to deal with those issues. So, we sold the house and gave the money to our parents.

Here’s our question: Do we, their children, owe tax on the gain? A tax preparer we ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Expanding the conversation about discrimination in housing

Q: It would appear that you are unaware of the several federal laws regarding discrimination in housing. One in particular deals with homeownership, which includes homes, condominiums, and homeowners associations (HOAs).

If the alleged discrimination is covered under the law for individuals who meet the basic requirements (such as race, sex, ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Heirs unhappy with lease agreement attached to inherited property

Q: My brother and I inherited several acres of commercial property from our parents. The land came with a poorly written lease. The lease was for 50 years with no escalation clause for the rent. The tenant pays the property taxes, but the rent we receive is a pittance.

This property is in northern Virginia in an expensive area. In five years, ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Texas homeowners consider selling to cash buyer without a real estate agent

Q: As my husband was taking out the trash last week, a woman passed him walking her dog. She told him she was interested in our house and inquired if we were looking to sell. My husband told her that we were planning on moving within the next year.

Later in the week, she came by to look at the house and expressed interest in purchasing the home...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Someone can steal your home out from under you in a number of ways

Q: Can someone steal my home by changing my deed? I see lots of ads offering to secure my property. What do you think?

A: The short answer to your first question is, unfortunately, maybe. There are several ways to steal your property through fraud. We’ve written loan scams and ways to fraudulently transfer ownership, but it’s worthwhile ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Unit owner hires company to work on common plumbing lines without consulting other condo owners, board

Q: I live in a rather small condominium building of seven units. As you can imagine, our finances are fairly tight. We had one owner do some remodeling in his unit and his plumber replaced some common plumbing lines to connect his new drains to the common line. The owner never mentioned anything to any of the other owners or to the board of ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Parents consider options for only daughter to inherit their home

Q: My husband and I want to give or sell our house to our newly married daughter, who is our only child. She will inherit the house when we pass and receive the benefit of the stepped-up basis at that time, but we hope to be around for a while and don’t want her to have to wait until then!

What strategy would you recommend that we investigate...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Do you have to pay US taxes on the sale of foreign property?

Q: I sold my house in my home country of Guatemala last year for around $90,000. The buyer paid me half of the sales price by wire transfer to my United States bank account. The other half was paid to me to an account I have in Guatemala. Do I have to report the sale on my U.S. tax return?

A: United States citizens are supposed to report any ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Homeowners struggle with discriminatory homeowners association

Q: I read the article you wrote about first-time homebuyers and homeowners associations. Florida has a lot of gated communities, and along with that typically comes a powerful homeowners association (HOA). Unfortunately, I didn’t know that when I moved and purchased my first house in Port St. Lucie, Florida. I live in a gated-community. Most ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Parents unsure about capital gains exclusion after daughter became co-owner of their home

Q: My daughter, my wife and I are co-owners of the home. Our daughter lived with us until 2021.

We bought the home for $350,000 around 20 years ago. When we refinanced our home loan four years ago, our daughter became a co-borrower and co-owner on the home. Do we have to pay capital gain tax for the home owned by me, my wife and my daughter ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Let’s discuss trees and property damage

Q: A neighbor’s tree falls into the yard, taking out a fence. Who is responsible for the tree removal and the damage to the fence? I’ve been looking online and have seen different responses.

A: There appears to be more information missing in your email than you provided. With so little detail, we can understand why you’d find any number ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Who is responsible for expenses after homeowner’s death, trustees or beneficiaries?

Q: Before my father died, he and his second wife established a living trust for their house. In the trust document, my stepbrother and I were designated co-trustees. I am a 50% beneficiary and my stepbrother and stepsister are 25% owners each.

In order to file the updated deed, the county required us to have an inspection and to make certain ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Sibling squabble over home access leads to consideration of small claims court

Q: I am the current owner of a home. My name is on the deed. My brother was given access to the house along with a set of keys many years ago by my late uncle. After he died, my uncle left the home to my mother (his sister). My mom then signed the deed over to me.

My brother has never lived in the house, and he has never paid any of the bills ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Parent experiences tricky real estate situation after son’s passing

Q: I was approved for a home loan, found a home and was ready to buy it. My son was one year into his army career, but didn’t have great credit. He heard about a plan for first-time homebuyers and applied for a loan in his name. He closed on the home I was going to buy.

We paid about $200,000 for the home and made around $25,000 of ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Homeowner seeks guidance when applying for senior real estate tax freeze

Q: I am going to be applying for the senior real estate tax freeze on my house this year. I do own my house, but I don’t have any paperwork of any kind that says I am the owner. How do I prove that I do own my house? Also, when I moved into this house 20 years ago, I put the title to the home into a land trust so that when I die, the home ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Condo owners in complex confused after two different management companies demand fees, assessments

Q: I live in a condominium complex in suburban Chicago. There’s a problem with the managing company for the property.

Recently, the board of directors of our association hired a new management company while the association was still under contract with our old management company. They’re using an attorney to try to get rid of the old ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Homeowner considers removing wife from living trust, adding her to title

Q: I am 76 and my wife is 58. I own our home outright, and she will inherit the house when I die through a living trust. Is it to her advantage to maintain the situation the way it is from a capital gains perspective, or should I add her to the deed now? I am thinking of the step-up in valuation of the house when she inherits it to minimize her ...Read more



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