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House Calls: Losing Money with Two Homes

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: I am trying to downsize from my large upscale house to a much smaller house. My small house is complete, but my large house is not selling. My Realtor dropped the price three times in six months, to far less than I paid for the place, but to no avail. I am now contemplating putting out an advertisement that says, "Best offer by two ...Read more

House Calls: That Escrow Account

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: Our purchase offer was accepted, and we are excited about moving into our new home. But we have a question about our monthly mortgage payment. It's more than we figured because of escrow. We have a good record of paying our bills, but the bank says it will collect every month and keep track and pay our taxes and insurance. Is this ...Read more

House Calls: Timeshare Worked Out

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: I want to share my story and that of my siblings. There are three of us. We inherited a timeshare from our mother, and we paid the yearly fees. It was great for many years, but the yearly cost kept climbing, and we all wanted to sell it when our mom passed away.

We listed it with the condo organization, and it charged a high real ...Read more

House Calls: What to Look For

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Ms. Lank: We just put our home on the market without a broker. We'll take any offers we receive to our lawyer, but could you give us an idea of what to watch out for? -- P. I.

Answer: First of all, understand that in the sale of real estate, oral agreements are not enforceable. If a buyer says, "Would you take $10,000 less than your asking...Read more

House Calls: Inheriting a House and Land

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Ms. Lank: It seems I will soon come into ownership (via my mother's passing) of a property that is divided in two portions: a home and 10 acres that are more suited for commercial development. How would tax reporting and capital gains be handled if the property is divided as such and then only one of the two portions is sold? How does one value ...Read more

House Calls: What About Tipping?

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: We are buying our first house, and we're both so pleased with the extra help our real estate agent has been giving us. She will be paid by the sellers, and we won't have much spare cash, but are there any guidelines for tipping? -- L. W.

Answer: Depending on the law in your state and the type of license she has, she might not be ...Read more

House Calls: Selling on Their Own

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: We are just starting to sell our house by ourselves. The idea is that by eliminating the broker's commission we can set the price lower and attract more buyers. We could use advice about how to avoid wasting our time with people who are just joyriding and can't really afford to buy or don't even intend to. Is there anything we can do...Read more

House Calls: Tax on Sale

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Ms. Lank: We would like to move to a senior center in my son's area. We inherited our home from my wife's grandmother. It was a family farmhouse. I have no idea what it cost. We live in a neighborhood of expensive houses; it should sell for quite a lot. There is no mortgage. Our daughter says we wouldn't have to pay any income tax if we ...Read more

House Calls: Reverse Mortgage

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Ms. Lank: I'm curious about reverse mortgages. What's the good of them? I've heard they are scams. Can you explain? -- M.V.

Answer: First off, don't worry about the scam problem. When reverse mortgages first became available, some were extremely expensive. In addition, some older homeowners had their loans linked to inappropriate ...Read more

House Calls: Forcing a Sale

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Ms. Lank: I am half owner on a property in Florida, and I am eager to sell; however, the other owner will not agree and also will not pay half of the property tax. Is there any way I could claim the property, seeing as I have been paying all the taxes for 50 years? -- M.S.

Answer: I don't think so, because either owner is responsible for the ...Read more

House Calls: Drugs and Keys

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Ms. Lank: You had a question in the column about staging a home for an open house, and you wrote to put small valuables away. I once saw a TV show on which the folks said that people need to lock up or relocate any prescription drugs for an open house, as there have been cases of people opening cabinets and stealing meds.

Another thing they ...Read more

House Calls: Tax on Inherited Property

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Hi, Edith: My mother passed away in 2014. I inherited her home. I paid a lawyer to go through probate and get the home in my name. A few weeks ago, I sold the home. When I do my 2016 income tax return, am I liable for taxes on the sale of the home? -- D. L., edithlank@aol.com

Answer: Your cost basis is the value of the home at the time of your...Read more

House Calls: No Gift Tax

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Edith: Can I give my daughter a $l4,000 interest in a rental property I own with a regular deed? I would want to give her $l4,000 interest year by year after that. If I can't do it with a regular deed, how do I have to do it? -- P. G.

Answer: Yes, part ownership of the property can serve as the $14,000 the IRS allows you to give to any ...Read more

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