Home & Leisure



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

Real Estate Matters: If your second property is a vacation home, you'll pay taxes on the sale

Q: I sold my second home last year. I had owned that home for many years. I bought a new one at a higher price. How is my tax calculated on these transactions?

A: Let's start with the sale of the second home. We're going to assume that you used it as a vacation property and never used it as a rental or investment property.

When you sold that ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: If you can pay cash for a home, should you still consider getting a loan?

Q: We are considering purchasing a new home in a national home builder's development. We could go through their loan people or pay cash. We are not sure what the costs of going through the loan process may be with them, but before we get started, what is your opinion as to whether it is best to mortgage with these low rates or purchase with cash...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Sharing mortgage responsibility requires careful consideration and a paper trail

Q: I have been discussing assisting my father with his mortgage now that he is retired. We have decided on a 60/40 split of the monthly payment, and I'll pick up the larger share. The thinking is that I'll inherit the home when he passes and also, of course, assume the outstanding mortgage.

My question is, how can I structure this arrangement ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Tax ramifications vary depending on beneficiaries of trust

Q: My wife passed away this past year and our home is titled in her trust, with me as trustee and my children as beneficiaries upon my passing. If I sell the house, is my cost basis the value on her date of death?

If so, and there is a gain when sold, am I entitled to the $250,000 gain exclusion? If I stay in the house and my children inherit ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: When you're trying to pay off multiple debts, where do you start?

Q: I am "getting back on my feet" financially and would like to know how I should continue to improve my personal finances. Is it better to prepay my mortgage, credit cards or personal loan? Is there a sound method that discusses which I should tackle first?

A: We're thrilled that you're trying to put your financial house in order. There are a ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Limited liability companies generally work with commercial lenders

Q: Are there any lenders that will loan money to a limited liability company that wishes to put up free and unencumbered land as collateral at less than 50% loan to value? I do not want to use myself as a guarantor.

A: Let's start by talking about limited liability companies (LLC) and why people use them in real estate transactions.

LLCs are ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Pocket listings to diminish thanks to Clear Cooperation Policy

Our recent article on pocket listings and "coming soon" listings elicited quite a number of comments. Here is one take:

Comment: I think you did your readers a disservice by not informing them that the National Association of Realtors has officially banned pocket listings. This will take effect on May 1, 2020.

Also, different areas of the ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Should you get an appraisal before selling your home?

Q: I think you're doing a disservice to your readers concerning listing your home with real estate agents. The best thing a homeowner/seller can do is spend the $350 or $450 and get an appraisal on the property. Letting a real estate agent set the price is a crapshoot.

If you get a contract on the property for $300,000 and the bank appraiser ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Landlord/homeowner turns out to be a scammer

Q: I rented a house from a person who turned out not to be the owner of the home. I contacted the authorities and the scammer disappeared. We were told by the police to try to find the true owner of the home. We even hired a private investigator but had no luck.

Now the home is being sold at auction due to delinquent taxes owed. Is there any ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: You can take several paths when estate planning. Which will you choose?

Q: My wife passed away this past year and our home is titled in her trust, with me as trustee and my children as beneficiaries upon my passing. If I sell the house, is my cost basis the value on her date of death?

If so, and there is a gain when sold, am I entitled to the $250,000 gain exclusion? If I stay in the house and my children inherit ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Tax burden from potential duplex sale seems high to seller

Q: My father-in-law is selling a duplex he rented out for about 10 years. The sale price is going to be around $300,000. His accountant says that he should plan on paying about $100,000 in taxes, because he has depreciated the property and all the deductions (for things like repairs and new appliances) will be added back in for taxes.

Does this...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Parents should carefully consider options when leaving home to an heir

Q: I just read your column giving suggestions to an elderly mother who wanted to make sure her daughter received her home at death without probate. I'm a retired attorney, and I don't know how many times I was asked the same question by clients over the years.

There's one thing that you didn't mention that often was the deal killer for the ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Association allegedly charges various owners different fines for the same violation. What gives?

Q: Can a condo association charge different fines for exactly the same infraction? Some of us broke the same rule in our association. We took matters into our own hands in making repairs to the common elements that are next to our units.

We had noted the problems with the association, but they did not take any action so we made the repairs. Yes...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Accurate information is essential to assess property taxes

Q: I recently watched one of Ilyce's video on YouTube on contesting real estate taxes. It really got me thinking, and I'm doing more research on my property taxes.

Do you have or know where I can get some type of form that I can fill out to get more information about my property? I'd like to find something that may show side by side my house in...Read more


Social Connections


Rose is Rose Reply All Drew Sheneman Wallace The Brave Paul Szep Hagar the Horrible