Real Estate News

The dual-agency letdown

Mar 13, 2009

Q: Two years ago, I bought a home to remodel and planned to move into it. A month after I bought it, I was put on orders and have been in military lodging for the last two years. The end of March is to be my last day on orders, so I have been working on getting the house into shape. My well has gone dry,...
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Buy home despite $100K in student loans?

Feb 13, 2009

Q: I'm a full-time student who's about to graduate this year. My plans are to hopefully begin the process of buying a home six months after I start working. How will my student loans affect my ability to qualify for a mortgage loan? I expect to have $100,000 in student loans. Also I should have star...
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'Vision of Home': Don't buy without it

Feb 5, 2009

Q:I think I might be too picky! I have just started house hunting for my first home. I know people who bought the fourth or fifth home that they saw, but my Realtor has shown me more than 30 homes and I still haven't seen "the one" yet. Am I being un...
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Think twice before buying out ex-spouse

Jan 30, 2009

Q: This isn't a question, but a comment on a recent column about buying out an ex-spouse. When one spouse purchases the other spouse's interest in a property, the "seller" is deemed to have received a gift and the "buyer" cannot increase the tax basis in the property, according to IRC Section ...
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Reverse mortgage for buyers debuts

Jan 28, 2009

Reverse mortgages have been available for more than two decades for older homeowners who have accrued a significant amount of equity in their homes. Now, the government is backing a program to help older homeowners purchase a home with the increasingly popular financing program. The Federal Housing Administrat...
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Remodels hold value better than home prices

Jan 26, 2009

Remodeling Magazine's 2008-2009 Cost vs. Value Report, produced each year in conjunction with Realtor Magazine, contains good news about the value of remodeling projects. The recent Cost vs. Value Report showed that renova...
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The short-sale nightmare

Jan 6, 2009

Q: We've worked for the last six months to buy a home that was a short sale. Our offer was accepted by the banks, and the house was taken off the market. I've been living month-to-month at my complex paying an additional $200 per month in order to be flexible when closing came around. I incurred a ...
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Downsizing the down payment

Dec 29, 2008

Q: I just learned that I qualify for my city's first-time homebuyer's program. I thought it was a grant, but it's actually a second mortgage. Is this a good deal or not? Is there anything I need to watch out for? A: Congratulations! The current market has presented the odd paradox for a buyer's market ...
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Buy now, sell later? Think contingency

Dec 15, 2008

Most homeowners who sell one home to buy another want to secure the replacement home before they sell. But many of these buy-first sellers may find it difficult, if not impossible, to do this due to recent tightening of mortgage lender requirements. Before the credit crunch, sellers who bought a new home befor...
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The condo conversion nightmare

Dec 12, 2008

Q: Our son purchased a condo that was converted from an apartment. Only 25 percent of the condos sold and now the developer has rented out the remaining condos as apartments again. So, my son now owns and lives in a condo in an apartment complex. The atmosphere has changed in the complex and crime...
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Affordability rises in California

Dec 8, 2008

A growing number of households were able to afford an entry-level home in California in the third quarter, as recent declines in home prices and mortgage rates have brought housing into better alignment with incomes. According to the California Association of Realtors, 53 percent of households statewide earne...
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Job moving out of state? Rent, don't buy

Dec 4, 2008

Q: My job is moving to another state. With today's poor real estate market, I will not be able to sell my current home without taking a substantial financial loss, which I cannot afford. I've rented out my house and will be moving soon. I plan to purchase a house at my new location and will try to ...
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Get sellers to pay closing costs

Dec 4, 2008

Q: I hear that sellers are more often chipping in on costs that are typically paid by the buyer (like inspections, closing costs, etc). How can I find out how often that's happening in our market? A: You are smart to understand that market dynamics are highly localized -- what is standard practice in ...
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Online home listings don't tell whole story

Nov 24, 2008

The Internet has changed the way we buy and sell houses. Most listings of homes for sale can be found on the Internet. Realtor.com, the world's largest real estate database of homes for sale, carries information on more than 3 million listings. According to the 2007 National Association Profile of Home Buyers...
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Drawbacks mount when owning home in LLC

Nov 21, 2008

Q: We are a California limited liability company (LLC) and would like to know if we can purchase a residential property under the name of the company. We plan to use it as our primary residence and also conduct our business from there. Please tell us the pros and cons of making this purchase. A: There ...
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Couple divided on real cost of fixer-upper

Nov 21, 2008

Q: My husband is dead set on buying a fixer-upper for our first house -- he thinks he's going to somehow become handy once we buy a house, even though he's never actually done a home improvement project. I want a place that just needs paint and carpet, because I don't think he'll finish the projects he starts and...
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Builder to buyer: You no longer qualify

Nov 20, 2008

Q: My husband and I are building a house with a big, new construction company. We put down $10,000 in earnest money when we signed the contract back in June. The contingency clause in the contract said the earnest money was refundable if we failed to qualify for a mortgage within 30 days of signing ...
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Experts disagree on roof life

Nov 19, 2008

DEAR BARRY: I am presently buying my first home and am bothered by a difference of opinion between my home inspector and the seller's roofing contractor. My home inspector has 20 years of experience. He found the shingles to be worn and brittle, with two years of remaining life. But the seller's roofing contracto...
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No guarantee when housing meltdown will end

Nov 18, 2008

DEAR BENNY: My son and his wife own a house. Just before the housing market downturn, they moved 1,000 miles away to pursue a much more lucrative-paying career for him. Since then they haven't been able to rent the house, and if they sold it they would lose $30,000 to $40,000. Even though he makes great pay, they...
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What happens if home fails inspection?

Nov 13, 2008

Q: If the house I'd like to purchase doesn't pass inspection, will the entire transaction be canceled and money refunded? A: Oh, if only life (and real estate) were so black-and-white -- being a grown-up would be so much easier! Unfortunately, home inspections are not pass-fail. Rather, they are part o...
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Buyers, get into negotiating position

Nov 10, 2008

Bridging the price gap between home buyers and sellers can be a challenge in today's market. Sellers, many of whom have a hard time accepting that their home has lost value, often expect to sell for more than buyers are willing to pay. Buyers, on the other hand, are concerned that home prices could drop furth...
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Rent-to-own can be full of surprises

Nov 7, 2008

Q: I am being transferred from a large East Coast city to a medium-size city in the South. I plan to retire within the next five years; my wife and I do not want to buy now but may be willing to retire there if we enjoy the locale and the climate, so we would like to rent a home and do a lease-purchase, if feasib...
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Purchase offers: How low is too low?

Nov 6, 2008

Q: How low of an offer should I make on a 4-bedroom, 3-bath house in Atlanta listed at $300,000? It's not a short sale or an REO, but I searched the title records and found out that the owners paid only $90,000 for it about 10 years ago. A: The answer to your question is, as with everything in real est...
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Demand rises for reverse exchanges

Nov 6, 2008

Q: We are Canadian citizens who have owned a home in Fort Myers, Fla., for four years. There is no mortgage on the property. We have put the property up for sale, and have made a down payment on a new house. We have bought and sold in the past, and I understand that as long as the new house is equa...
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Stock declines hit senior hard

Nov 4, 2008

Q: My 84-year-old father (who is not in great health) bought into a senior living community several weeks ago, just before the market crash. He must pay the balance of what he owes, about $200,000 dollars, by the end of his first month, which is within the week. He has all of his investments and I...
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Staging tips that sell

Nov 3, 2008

Home prices have fallen and many homeowners are mortgaged to the hilt. This makes it difficult for some sellers to justify spending a penny to get their home ready for the market. However, the home-sale market is also very competitive in areas that are still bloated with inventory of unsold homes. When buyers ...
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Seller's contractor can't be trusted

Oct 28, 2008

Q: We are in the process of buying a home. We really did our homework before we started, but we've still hit a big bump in the road. We made an offer on a lovely house that is about 80 years old. It was advertised as renovated and was even on the area preservation society's tour of homes. We hired a really great ...
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The art of counteroffers

Oct 27, 2008

Negotiation is back in style. It's not uncommon for buyers and sellers to have many rounds of counteroffering back and forth before they arrive at a contract that is completely agreeable to all involved. When this is accomplished, the contract is ratified. However, there is another important element involved i...
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Lease-options: the good, the bad, the ugly

Oct 23, 2008

Q: I owned a home for eight years, but borrowed heavily against it, took a subprime loan and recently lost it through foreclosure. My credit is shot from the foreclosure, but I have found another home I would like to buy. The seller will agree to do a lease-option, and I think it sounds like a great way to buy. W...
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Job losses prolong housing slump

Oct 22, 2008

If you don't have a job, you're not buying a house -- at least, you're not buying a house unless you're paying for it in cash. And for most folks, cash seems to be in short supply at the moment. The credit crisis continues to grow in scope and scariness. Third-quarter 401(k), 457, 403(b) and IRA statements are...
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Small lenders fill niche for Mexican mortgages

Oct 22, 2008

The residential mortgage meltdown in the United States not only has devalued investors' significant assets but it has stymied their ability to create and explore potential future business. New York-based Lehman Brothers Resort Home Lending abruptly ended its four-month entry into the Mexican and Costa Rican mo...
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