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Real Estate Matters: Readers offer their takes on real estate taxes and escrows

A couple of weeks ago we wrote a column about real estate taxes and real estate tax escrows. Most homeowners pay their property tax bill via an escrow with their lender, but that doesn’t always work out as it should. We wanted to share a few of the comments we received.

Comment: In your response to a question about property taxes you made a ...Read more

Homebuyer seeks attorney’s help with seller disclosure issue regarding asbestos in popcorn ceiling

Q: You co-authored an article a few years back about a homeowner that faced a seller that hid defects in their home. In the article it mentioned an asbestos issue.

I recently closed on a house in Florida and the inspector did not identify the ceilings as popcorn, nor did he call out the possible hazard in the report summary. He also did not ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Financial stress, health issues have older couple questioning a reverse mortgage

Q: My wife and I own our home in Florida. We paid a bit over $300,000 early last year for the property. The home was newly built when we bought it, but prices are rising quickly in our area and it’s now worth around $350,000.

I’m working full time and I’m around 60. My wife has a debilitating disease and we don’t have much in the way of...Read more

Real Estste Matters: Senior contemplates move to avoid board-run community in condo development

Q: I read your response to the 66-year old buyer who was considering the purchase of a home.

I’m 84 years old. I live in a small (75-plus unit) condo development. I love my unit but there are things I don’t like in the board-run community.

My dilemma is whether to simply accept the issues or sell and rent. I have no mortgage. Our monthly ...Read more

Real Estate Mattters: Estate planning is important to determine the transfer of home ownership upon your death

Q: I have a question about transferring my home to my children. I have a house that I plan to leave to my daughters in my will. I realize that this route will mean going through a probate, which is both a time consuming and expensive process. I am also aware that a living trust would allow me to transfer the ownership of the home to my kids ...Read more

Widow does not want to take on late husband’s timeshare. Can she refuse?

Q: I have a question about the timeshare property that was owned by my late husband. My husband died of a sudden heart attack recently, without a will. He was the sole owner of the timeshare and he had no estate and there’s no probate case pending.

I don’t want the timeshare. I just mailed the timeshare company the death certificate. Since ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Parents consider selling home to son but worry about daughter’s right to money from the sale

Q: We have a bachelor son and a married daughter. In 2016, we invited our son to move back home with us. He agreed on the condition that we renovate our basement for him to live there.

Our basement definitely required renovations. We spent $60,000 renovating the basement and paid for it through a home equity loan. Our son has been making the ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Interest received as income has retiree worried about financial situation

Q: Three years ago, my son purchased a house. I am the lender for his mortgage. Last year, unable to resist a low interest rate, I took out a bank mortgage on my own home. Both my son and I pay about $6,000 in interest annually. So, effectively, $6,000 passes into and out of my hands.

Here’s my question: must I pay tax on the $6,000 worth of ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: A discussion about mortgage payments and real estate taxes

Q: I have a question about what happens to your real estate taxes when you pay off your mortgage. When you have a mortgage, the payment to the lender includes real estate taxes and insurance. Once you pay off your loan, how do taxes get paid? Is it better to pay off your loan or keep a loan so that the taxes keep getting paid? Do property taxes ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: The real estate game has changed, so consider yourself a first-time buyer if you haven’t played recently

Q: My wife and I have owned two homes during our marriage. We lived in the first one for 20 years and have owned our current home for almost 20 years. So, we are not first-time buyers but still not overly experienced with the process of buying real estate.

We are ready to downsize to a single-story ranch to hopefully age in place. I have read ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Continuing the conversation on home inspections, inspectors

Q: Home inspections and the inspectors who perform them remain a popular topic for our readers. Last year, we published a column from a woman who wanted to know if it was OK to buy a property that had been updated although the sellers did the work without having pulled the proper permits. We suggested using a professional home inspector to give ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Homeowner concerned basement remodel occurred without permits

Q: We remodeled our basement about 10 years ago and used a company that is still in business. It doesn’t seem like they obtained any permits for the work in our basement. We still own the home and plan to be here for some time to come. Do we have to report this to the local housing department and what should we do about our home improvements? ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Widow considers leaving her home in foreclosure

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

A: We’re not fans of just letting the bank foreclose on homes. We think foreclosure should be a plan of last resort. Underwater homeowners usually fare better if they try to market and sell the home ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Real estate roller coaster rides up and down from 2020 into 2021

It’s safe to say that 2020 will go down in history like a year no other. Even, or perhaps especially, in real estate.

COVID-19 lockdowns hit mid-March, and by the beginning of April, we heard whispers about a dramatic change in attitude from home buyers. Agents and brokers across the country reported that buyers were fleeing big city centers,...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Grieving siblings at odds over selling inherited home

Q: My boyfriend’s mother died several months back. He wants to either buy his sister out or sell the property, but his sister has refused his verbal requests to buy her out and things have gotten quite strained between them. It is their home and they both live there and now own the home jointly.

It would seem to me that it would be best for ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Money lessons for the new year

Here's a guess: There aren't many of us who'd care to redo 2020. COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, changed everything, killing more than 365,000 Americans (as of this writing in early January) and taking the economy on an even wilder ride than the Great Recession, just a decade ago.

According to the Federal Reserve Bank, more than half of ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Married couple toys with the idea of selling their home — to themselves, essentially

Q: My wife and I own our home jointly. The home has appreciated substantially in the 25 years we have owned it to the point that when we sell, we will net more than $500,000 in profit. That means, we’ll likely owe some tax.

Consequently, we are thinking that we would jointly sell our house to my wife exclusively and only to her. That way we, ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Friends purchasing a duplex seek advice on whether property is considered a primary residence or an investment

Q: My partner and I plan to purchase a duplex with friends. We would live on one side, and our friends (who already own their forever home) would rent out the other side. Eventually we plan to purchase a home for ourselves and rent out both sides of the duplex.

If all four of us are on the financing and title, is the property considered a ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Can you add a third person to your title?

Q: There are two of us on the title of a home. We own the home as joint tenants with rights of survivorship. Is it legal for just one of us to add a third person to the title of the home?

A: The short answer is yes, you can add a third person to the title of the home, but you might end up with an unexpected result.

Right now, you and your co-...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Resident concerned association board wants to remove trees behind her unit

Q: The association board of my building wants to take down basic pine trees behind my unit. The trees are healthy and provide no danger to the building. These trees provide privacy, shade and comfort to my unit. It is one of the main reasons I purchased the unit. Do I have any recourse?

A: We can understand your frustration. Have you talked to ...Read more



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