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Real Estate Matters: Let’s catch up with our readers

COMMENT: Your column from a couple of weeks ago was like the Marx Brothers’ bit from “A Day At The Races” when Groucho bought a racing form. He was informed that he also needed a breeder’s guide, a tip sheet, then a code book and a master code book to understand the Racing Form.

Your column mentioned that the reader might want to hire ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Homeowner recommends whole house water shut-off valves

Q: I just finished your article on water sensors and was disappointed you did not mention whole house water shut-off valves. I recently experienced water damage that required 90% of my wood floors to be replaced at an insured cost of about $55,000.

My next move is to have installed a Moen Flo water shut-off valve (top rated by Consumer Reports)...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Will there be tax implications when you have joint tenants with right of survivorship?

Q: In 2008, I paid off my parents’ mortgage. In exchange, I was placed on the deed as joint tenants with right of survivorship, with the expectation that I was to be repaid when the house was sold. I never lived in the home.

Fourteen years later, my step dad has passed away and my mom has just moved to a retirement home. We plan to sell the ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Each state has its own rules governing estate taxes

Q: Your answer to the reader about inheritance taxes in Pennsylvania addressed the questions about federal taxes and a gift tax, but isn’t there misinformation in the question concerning avoiding probate on a cash estate of $250,000?

In my state of Virginia, probate is required if the estate is greater than $50,000 or includes real property. ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Who is responsible for repairing damaged insulation in a condo?

Q: My condo association has repeatedly repaired our roof. It has also paid for repainting parts of the ceiling in my unit on multiple occasions. I live on the top floor of a five-story building.

Whose responsibility is it to replace rain damaged ceiling insulation? And, whose responsibility is it if the insulation above my unit has been blown ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Readers respond to our advice regarding quitclaim deeds

There were a number of comments about a recent question we wrote regarding a quitclaim deed that was signed but not recorded. Here’s a sample:

Comment: I am an attorney and practice estate planning. The other attorneys in the office specialize in real estate. Your recent column regarding the conditional use of a quitclaim deed does not ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Association requiring homeowner to unnecessarily upgrade roof to match aesthetic changes

Q: Where can I find information about homeowners association’s powers? Can a homeowners association force me to replace a perfectly good roof because they want me to upgrade to their new favorite roof style of shingles?

It is my responsibility to repair the roof. But having me pay more than $10,000 for a new roof simply because they have ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: How to prevent water infiltration, maintain a dry basement

Climate change is causing a big divide in the U.S.: The eastern half of the country is getting a lot wetter and the western half is getting a lot drier. If you’re a homeowner, and you live east of Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico, you’ve probably spent some time thinking about how to prevent water infiltration.

Keeping your basement dry is ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Let’s explore today’s market for first-time homebuyers

Mortgage interest rates have doubled over the past 15 months, throwing a curveball to first-time buyers who were trying to cope with skyrocketing home prices, and were hoping for their shot at achieving the American Dream of homeownership.

According to the 2022 NAR Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report, first-time buyers made up 34...Read more

Homeowners frustrated about discussion of their home’s valuation

Q: I am growing impatient with so many saying, “Wow, the value of your home has gone up so much,” without knowing the facts.

Fifteen years ago, in 2007, I bought my house in Florida from a trust, as the owners had both died. I offered $700,000 on the property, which was listed at $800,000, so I do not feel I overpaid. The trust accepted my ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Homeowner wishes to remove ex-spouse from mortgage without refinancing

Q: My ex-spouse will sign a quitclaim deed on the house. Will that remove her name from the mortgage? Her name is not on the loan promissory note, but she is on the mortgage and some of the other documents.

How can I remove her name on the mortgage document without refinancing the loan?

A: Let’s start with the difference between the ...Read more

Will sibling squabble lead to an eviction?

Q: I bought a house with a friend in 2012. Recently, he sold his 50% interest to my sister, making her my new partner in the property.

I allowed her to be the only one on the deed. Now she is “evicting” me and claiming we had an “oral lease agreement” and that is why it is not on paper. I have lived in this home for many years now and ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Adult child deals with confusion over father’s estate more than a decade after dad’s passing

Q: My dad and I traded properties due to his health. When the title company did the deed, they put title to the property in both his name and the name of his home care lady. She was named as part owner of the property. Both my dad and his home care lady died more than 10 years ago.

I acted as my dad’s power of attorney. I had cataracts, ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Los Angeles-based couple seeks guidance concerning financial planning, buying a home

Q: I’m hoping you can help me find a tax attorney in Los Angeles who can provide guidance to my fiancé and me. We are both about to graduate from our residencies as doctors and will then get married, start our careers, and buy a house, which is a substantial purchase in Los Angeles.

We want to start off on the right foot in terms of planning...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Retiree considers selling townhome, purchasing larger single-level home

Q: I retired in 2020. My long-term plan was to move to a single-level home. I’ve delayed it due to COVID-19, but hope to make the move this summer.

I currently own a two-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath townhome, which I would sell. I am single and want to buy a three-bedroom, two-bath home so I have more space.

I’m trying to figure out how ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: IRS rules concerning capital gains can be convoluted and confusing, so we’re here to help

Over the past few weeks, we’ve fielded a number of questions about how to prove the cost of improvements and calculate the capital gain of real estate.

Home prices have skyrocketed over the past 10 years. Given how fast home prices have climbed, it’s clear sellers are concerned about saving on the capital gains tax bill they may eventually ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Reader offers insight concerning fee paid to mortgage lender

Q: I just read the article regarding the lady that has not received her release of mortgage document from her lender. If it was my big box lender, she would not get the release of mortgage until she pays the special release and mail fee. I had to pay $158.50 two years ago to get it.

A: Thanks for your email. The column we wrote talked about the...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Widow questions if conditional quitclaim deed is valid

Q: My friend signed a quitclaim deed to her husband in case they were to get divorced. Last year, he unexpectedly died due to a heart attack and other complications. Does the quitclaim deed still hold? If it does, the title to the house is in his name only. He was a poor money manager, and she did not want to incur his debts, so even filing ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Taking a quick look at fees

Q: I own a condo that I rent out. The association charges me $100 per year as an “annual administration lease fee.” Isn’t this creating two “classes” of owners in the association?

While I admit that there is some extra work in leasing the condo, everything else is the same for the management company. I calculated that the management ...Read more

Real Estate Matters: Father trying to help children cope with financial stress of managing estate

Q: My wife’s father is close to death and he has moved all of his investments into his bank in the form of cash. He said that was done to help my wife and her brother avoid probate on those instruments. It’s not a lot of money (approximately $250,000), but since I will be doing his taxes for 2022 I’m wondering whether I will have to pay ...Read more



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