Home & Leisure



Real Estate Matters: Homeowner seeks advice about revocable and irrevocable trusts

Q: I am divorced and have two grown daughters. I am placing my house in a trust. My attorney is recommending an irrevocable trust. Which do you prefer, revocable or irrevocable and why?

A: What we prefer has nothing to do with whether you should have a revocable or irrevocable trust. Those two trusts are totally different and serve totally ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Property owner requests improvement for something in excess of HOA covenants

Q: I am on the board of directors of my homeowners association (HOA). The dues to our HOA are voluntary. We can’t assess liens against any property in our community; we can only sue a property owner for violations of our covenants.

Our HOA document speaks to architectural control covenants, and homeowners can make improvements to their homes ...Read more

Should you contact listing agents with questions if you’re simply browsing?

Q: I am interested in selling a house in Cincinnati and moving to Maryland near D.C. I’d like to do this in the near future but not immediately.

A while ago, I looked at condos online just to get an idea of the possible costs. Sometimes I didn’t see everything I wanted to know in the listing, like the homeowners association fee, whether the...Read more

Buyer worried about seller seeing preapproval letter

Q: Does a real estate agent need to get copies of our preapproval letter from our lender before taking us to search for homes? My concern is that I make if an offer on a house, the agent would provide a copy of a preapproval letter from my lender that would give the seller the exact amount that I could pay for the home.

In particular, if my ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: When your home is in a living trust, what exactly is insured?

Q: My insurance agent said the insurance company wants my policies (fire, wind and umbrella) titled in the name of my living trust. While doing some research to try to understand why this is necessary, I found advice (not to mention definitions) to be all over the board.

I'm also confused about whether an accident at my home would be covered if...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Breaking up is hard to do, especially when an LLC is involved

Q: I have an ex-partner who talked me into putting my house into a limited liability company (LLC) with her as the managing member. She has total say and control over the LLC, but we are 50/50 owners in the company. The purpose of the LLC was for investment.

She was going to run a business of renting the property through the company and handle ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: A reader suggests a life estate over living trust. Here's our take.

Q: Not really a question as much as a comment. As a Realtor for 34 years I'm not a fan of trusts, so I'm disappointed in your recent response to a question about selling a property inside a trust.

A home held in a trust is not that easy to sell or for heirs to cash the check after a closing or settlement. A life estate deed is by far the ...Read more

Real Estate Memos: Despite financial hardships in the wake of COVID-19, there are signs of hope in the real estate market

We have had weeks of dreadful news about the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. And while there have been slight improvements here or there, it's all pretty dark.

Recently, new claims for unemployment were more than 3.8 million. This only sounds good because the past six weeks' worth of claims have been significantly higher: ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Investor seeks guidance on 1031 exchange amid the coronavirus pandemic

Q: We completed our 1031 exchange in September 2019. Our renter has fallen on hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic and cannot afford the rent. Similarly, we are in a rental that is twice the amount of our mortgage. I know there is a relief for the 45- and 180-day time limits when there has been a presidential declared disaster. Surely the COVID...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Association seeks guidelines on pool usage amid COVID-19 pandemic as summer approaches

Q: Our 100-unit condominium has a small, private locked outdoor pool that usually opens from Memorial Day to Labor Day. With COVID-19, what do we do this year? Should we open the pool and use it at our own risk? Should it be open to residents only? Should guests be allowed to use the pool?

We need some guidance, as many residents have already ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Interpretation of condo board rule goes up in smoke

Q: I live in a condo with four smokers living below me. They continually blow smoke out the windows and it rises and enters my unit. Our revised rules and regulations state that no smoke is allowed to migrate to another unit. What can I do when the president of the board advises me that it is my problem and I have to keep my windows shut?

A: ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: A 'new normal' is coming in the wake of COVID-19

To say COVID-19 has impacted the market is an understatement. The National Multifamily Housing Council recently reported that as many as one-third of apartment renters failed to make their April rental payment to their landlords. A slew of national tenants and retailers announced that they would not pay rent to their landlords, and many others ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: When it comes to investing in a home, be true to your nature

Q: I am 83, have no mortgage, pay my credit cards in full each month and have no car payment. When I first started out in 1961, I bought a '52 Chevy for $195 and drove it for years. When I got my first house with a mortgage, the early payments were mostly interest and little principal. So, with each payment, I added the principal amount of the ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: The need for electronic signatures, remote online notarization grows as the coronavirus spreads

Q: I'm in the process of closing on the sale of a home. I was able to do the document review electronically, but as the settlement approaches (in a few days) I just had to leave our self-quarantined status to find a notary to have the many required signatures in the closing package notarized. Have you seen changes in industry practices that ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Fees vary buying a home with cash versus using a lender

Q: Thanks for your recent article titled "Is it better to buy for cash or take out a mortgage." You imply, if not suggest, that if you pay cash, you don't need to incur the expenses associated with title insurance and "other title company closing fees and charges." Why is that?

A: Well, we didn't mean to imply that buying with cash would mean ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Is buying a home in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic a good idea?

In the past few weeks, we have received questions about COVID-19 and how the coronavirus pandemic has affected local real estate markets. Many buyers and sellers are worried about making a move right now, which makes us think real estate has already come to a near-complete halt.

We don't have anything but anecdotal evidence to support this at ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: How long do interest rate locks last?

Q: I am pretty sure I already know the answer to this question but here it goes anyway. My wife and I plan to move into a different house/condo in two years. Is it possible to lock into a rate now that would hold for a couple years? What is the maximum time limit to hold a rate lock?

A: That's a great idea! We wish we could lock in these ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Can you use a 1031 exchange with co-investors?

Q: Are there options for a 1031 exchange where you would be a property owner with other people? For example, if you bought an office building, a retail center or an apartment complex with partners? I recently sold a condo for around $225,000 and am thinking about what I can do now with the proceeds.

A: A 1031 exchange (which is listed under ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Which documents should you save once your mortgage is paid in full?

Q: I have a small condo I just paid off. After watching your Expert Real Estate Tips YouTube Channel, I contacted my mortgage company requesting documentation. The only documents they provided were a letter stating the loan is paid in full and a certificate of satisfaction of the mortgage.

Are these two documents all I need to prove that I paid...Read more

Real Estate Matters: How will coronavirus impact the real estate market?

We're only getting one question this week although it comes in many forms: How will the coronavirus, COVID-19, impact the real estate market?

At this point, buyers are still buying homes and sellers are still selling. Sam has received several contracts in the last few days, although his office phone isn't ringing as much as normal. Ilyce has ...Read more


Social Connections


Steve Kelley Pickles Caption It Pearls Before Swine Dilbert BC