Home & Leisure



Real Estate Matters: Homeowner interested in preserving scenic view by buying a portion of neighbor’s property

Q: We live in a subdivision that was built in 1962. The houses are situated on irregularly shaped lots to form an open area that is landscaped with vistas of mature trees and a leafy, verdant backdrop. Property lines are marked with very low, split-rail fences. We have an open airy feeling in our subdivision. Our picture window looks out over a ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: What, exactly, is covered in a home warranty?

Q: I viewed your YouTube video on home warranties. We live in a 10-year old home in the country. We have a well with a submersible pump and we need to know if in addition to taking care of appliances, would a home warranty also take care of the pump and other assorted plumbing problems if something goes wrong? And can you recommend a good ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Readers comment on reverse mortgages, we respond

There are certain real estate topics that seem to generate a fair amount of excitement and interest among our readers. One of those is a reverse mortgage.

A reverse mortgage allows homeowners aged 62 and older to convert their home equity into either a single lump sum or regular payments, which can be used to fix up the property or travel or ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Resident questions inquiry from assessor’s office

Q: I have a question about a letter I received from my county assessor’s office. I live in Maricopa County, Arizona. The form asks how many people live in our home and what we’re doing with the home. The form also states that if we don’t respond, they will fine us.

My take is that it’s none of their business how many people live in my ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Unmarried couple questions how to leave property to their son

Q: I have a question about adding a name to the deed of a house. My boyfriend (we have never married) and I have one son together. Our son has my last name and is now an adult. My boyfriend is the one who bought the home we live in and the home is in his name.

He is now thinking about the future in case something should happen to him. He is ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Woman seeks help to fix errors on 25-year-old quitclaim deed

Q: I own a home that my mother gave me by quitclaim deed. She did this two months before she passed away.

The attorney who handled my mother’s legal affairs before she died mistakenly put my maiden name on the deed, as opposed to my married legal name. To make matters worse, she admittedly also put my wrong middle initial on the deed. This ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Family seeks advice on change of ownership of property acquired through a 1031 exchange

Q: I just watched one of your YouTube videos about 1031 exchanges. We are a family of investors and have done quite a few 1031 exchanges. How do we facilitate the change of ownership on a property that was acquired through a 1031? My parents want to transfer the ownership of a few of their properties to me and my siblings.

A: For starters, a ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Are real estate attorneys necessary in residential closings?

Q: I read your article on using real estate attorneys in residential closings. What a bunch of drivel. I have handled tens of thousands, if not over 200,000 closings, settlements and escrows in all 50 states since 1996 and have found the greatest costs are always in states where we had to use attorneys.

Tell me why one would need a survey on a ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Renter believes condo association fees are excessive

Q: I have a condo that I rent. The condo association has started a new annual fee of $600 to cover administrative costs for rentals. The association also now charges $350 every time a renter moves in or out of the building.

The move in and out fees cover the cost of reserving the elevator and placing padding on the elevator walls. Previously, ...Read more

Daughter seeks to help parents with mortgage, credit card debt by buying their house

Q: I am one of three daughters who will inherit our home when our parents pass away. They have a mortgage on the home and some credit card debt. Would it be wise for us to purchase their home before their death, so their mortgage debt is paid off?

I recently sold my home and have money from that sale. I don’t want my parents to die with all ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Tenant seeks to gain ownership of recently sold home

Q: I have lived in a house for the past three years and received a letter stating the house was sold for unpaid taxes. I’ve tried reaching the homeowners, but they won’t respond. If I pay the back taxes on the house can I claim ownership in West Virginia?

A: The short answer to your questions is no. You can’t simply pay the real estate ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Buyer seeks to hold agent, builder liable for water leaks

Q: A couple of years ago, we purchased a unit in a four-unit, newly built condominium in Washington, D.C. We were the second purchaser in this building.

The first unit in the building was conveyed around November 2018, and the last unit was sold in the summer of 2019. The buyers of the first unit noticed water leaks from the roof after closing....Read more

Real Estate Matters: Seniors having trouble qualifying for new mortgage

Q: There are thousands of seniors like us who are “stuck” in their homes because they do not “qualify” for a mortgage, let alone a refinance of their existing mortgage. All our funds are tied up in our houses or condos and we’re barely surviving on our monthly Social Security checks.

If seniors have a mortgage and wish to move to a ...Read more

Neighbors on the verge of squabble over property lines

Q: The siding of my home is inside my neighbor’s yard. He put up a big shed very close to my siding. How can I get my neighbor to comply with setback rules to have him move his shed and other things that are up against my siding wall?

A: Neighbor issues. Gotta love ’em. You can approach your issue in one of two ways: nicely or aggressively....Read more

Real Estate Matters: Potential buyer seeks fixer-upper for $7K. Can it be done?

Q: I recently read an article you published about being able to buy a house for $5,000. I am looking to purchase a house. I have saved up $7,000. I understand the house will need to be fixed up. Where would you suggest I begin?

A: For about 10 years, Ilyce wrote about 12 columns per month for a website called Moneywatch, which was later folded ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Seller seeks advice on determining taxes on sale of property

Q. I purchased a condominium from my mother in 1997 for a small nominal fee after living in it for 10 years. My question is, if I sell the unit now, would I pay taxes based on the county’s appraised value in 1997, of which I am unaware, or do I pay taxes based on the purchase price from my mother that is stated on the deed transfer?

A: In a ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Having estate conversations now makes everything easier down the line

Q: First off, thank you for all the wonderful information on Ilyce’s YouTube channel. The videos are very well made and informative. I am trying to gather some initial information about a situation my family will be dealing with shortly and was hoping that you could shed some light on things for me.

Here’s the situation: My mother is the ...Read more

Reflections on a year of real estate during the COVID-19 pandemic

A year ago, we were in a very different place: The COVID-19 pandemic was just beginning, but the real estate market had been running hot. With interest rates and housing inventory near historic lows, most areas of the country were in a solid seller’s market, and most homeowners were enjoying watching their home values appreciate, with their ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Siblings squabble over money from real estate sale

Q: My sister put my name on the title to a condominium unit that was bought with her trust fund money. I owned it for seven years and during that time, she lived in the condo rent free.

She says that the reason she didn’t want the condo in her name was that she didn’t want her ownership of a condo to interfere with the government assistance...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Not all real estate is equal to the IRS

Q: I just read your article in our local paper titled “Parents worry about splitting sale of home,” but it did not answer some questions I’ve had.

My first question is about selling my vacation home. My understanding is I would have to pay taxes on the sale, but if I let my three kids inherit it, my kids would pay no taxes if they sell it...Read more



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