House Calls from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Tue, 29 Sep 2020 22:37:03 -0700 House Calls from Creators Syndicate f040431c3bac26676845c8acce104cf1 My Last Column for 09/29/2019 Sun, 29 Sep 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>It was December of 1975. My husband, Norman Lank, was a Realtor, with two dozen salespersons under his supervision. </p> <p>He had received word that day that both local newspapers would be raising their classified ad rates for the coming year. But to sweeten the deal, the Sunday paper was about to start a real estate section. No more lumping real estate with the women's news. (Yes, there were women's sections in those days, full of recipes, society news and household hints.)<p>Updated: Sun Sep 29, 2019</p> d1a1eedc1cd4bb37cc89d1ae3fe7d1dc Lake House Inherited for 09/22/2019 Sun, 22 Sep 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Edith: Six siblings inherited a lake house in 1986. It has been enjoyed by all families for years. However, now there is a need for extensive improvements. No one wants to put the money into it, but no one wants to see it go for taxes.</p> <p>Four of the six want to sell the house and get their inheritance. One wants to buy it and give everyone her share; she would do all improvements and then allow it to be used by the others for vacations. <p>Updated: Sun Sep 22, 2019</p> bd5b1a209b44540c40fa78f598276375 How to Sell for 09/15/2019 Sun, 15 Sep 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Edith: My wife and I are approaching our 80s and thinking about selling our cottage. It is on the water at the Eastern end of Lake Ontario. In 1992, we bought and cleared the lot. We had a shell put up. Over the years, we made improvements to the shell. At this point, all of our children have moved away.</p> <p>Here are our questions:<p>Updated: Sun Sep 15, 2019</p> fe87717da1968f5bedbbd15aca867f7a Mortgagor, Mortgagee for 09/08/2019 Sun, 08 Sep 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Edith: I'm studying for my real estate license, and last week, we discussed mortgages. I still can't get "mortgagor" and "mortgagee" straight in my mind. I told our professor that I'd email you to see whether you could help. By the way, we sometimes talk about your column in class. </p> <p>Wish me luck on the exam. &#8212; L. C.<p>Updated: Sun Sep 08, 2019</p> 0f52c70210daf2b67356aa49d6a3d12d What to Look for for 09/01/2019 Sun, 01 Sep 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>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? &#8212; P. I.</p> <p>Answer: First of all, understand that <span class="column--highlighted-text">in the sale of real estate, oral agreements are not enforceable</span>. If a buyer says, "Would you take $10,000 less than your asking price?" don't answer. Even if you did say yes and they wrote you a check as a good-faith deposit, you couldn't hold them to it. Just say, "We'll be happy to consider any written offers."<p>Updated: Sun Sep 01, 2019</p> e5df6da52455523b09632d306fda0ab1 What About Tipping? for 08/25/2019 Sun, 25 Aug 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>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? &#8212; L. W.</p> <p>Answer: Depending on the law in your state and the type of license she has, she might not be able to accept anything valuable except through her supervising broker.<p>Updated: Sun Aug 25, 2019</p> a666416daf8cd1f3f561d9d87d212556 Belt and Suspenders for 08/18/2019 Sun, 18 Aug 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Ms. Lank: What does it mean when a property shows up in the multiple listing system as a new listing with a pending offer?</p> <p>I get email updates about my area from a couple of different real estate offices. The email I received today regarding a property shows today's date as the list date and a pending offer with today's date.<p>Updated: Sun Aug 18, 2019</p> ff771ee9621edcec13172a6d915f4754 More Reader Comments on Home Staging for 08/11/2019 Sun, 11 Aug 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Readers are still sending in comments about the rant from a seller who resented trying to live in her professionally staged home while it was on the market. <span class="column--highlighted-text">Some sellers agree but say that staging is worth the discomfort. Some sellers disagree.</span> And at least one reader evidently misread the letter.</p> <p><p>Updated: Sun Aug 11, 2019</p> 4908d39f0ce61f383190ec18beb4eaa8 Understand the Difference Between Decorating and Staging for 08/04/2019 Sun, 04 Aug 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>A few weeks ago, a reader wrote in with what she called a rant &#8212; an account of the "grief" she and her husband felt after their real estate broker staged their longtime home to put it on the market. She couldn't believe buyers would rather see a house in which she and her husband were "imprisoned." Their home felt "totally strange, nonfunctional and alien."</p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">Professional staging, of course, goes beyond the traditional cleanup that brokers have always advised for marketing (removing clutter, packing away personal items and the like). </span>Since X.X.'s rant, readers have responded with varying opinions on whether staging pays off.<p>Updated: Sun Aug 04, 2019</p> e53fa9910cb9f9991bd4aeccec6a4f29 Absentee Real Estate Investment for 07/28/2019 Sun, 28 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Ms. Lank: My son is interested in renting out his home, as he received a job offer in another state. Three years ago, I bought your book, "The Home Buyer's Kit," to help him. Does this book have current information for landlords, or do you have another that would guide us? &#8212; J. L.</p> <p>Answer: Your note made my day! I am flattered that you want more advice. <p>Updated: Sun Jul 28, 2019</p> 22be10745145c174c977c11cdcdb13d8 Rant About Living in a Staged House for 07/21/2019 Sun, 21 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Edith: As a faithful reader of your column and previous real estate agent, I thought I understood how the process would go when we put our house on the market this June. Little did I know how the process has changed since I was in the business. Now houses must be staged to appeal to people who have seen TV-beautiful homes. But I feel that's all wrong.</p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">I know your mission is to answer questions, but I think it's worth showing another point of view on staging.</span> You have my permission to use any or all of the attached rant in your column. Just don't use my name, as the house still isn't sold! &#8212; X. X., <p>Updated: Sun Jul 21, 2019</p> 60a0cba2f9cad92bf6a69f25815c1ceb Leave During Open House for 07/14/2019 Sun, 14 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Mrs. Lank: Our Realtor listed our house two weeks ago and now she is planning to have an open house next weekend. She has asked us to leave the house and go somewhere for those three hours. She says it will work better. We're not sure, is this usual? &#8212; F. I.</p> <p>Answer: Of course you're curious to see who comes to see your home, but the agent is right. <span class="column--highlighted-text">House hunting can be confusing and tiring, and prospects need to concentrate on the house. You would be a distraction.</span><p>Updated: Sun Jul 14, 2019</p> e26dd97b167bba396c64360de83a420a Answering a Purchase Offer: Yes, No or Maybe for 07/07/2019 Sun, 07 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Ms. Lank: If you could answer me today that would be helpful. We are selling our home ourselves, and we got an offer this morning that is $8,000 less than we are asking. It's only good for 48 hours. My wife isn't sure about it. Can you discuss our options? We need advice right away. &#8212; K. R.</p> <p>Answer: First of all, we'll assume that this is a signed, written offer. If it isn't you only have one option: Don't respond. Say that you'll be happy to consider any written offer. <span class="column--highlighted-text">The statute of frauds says that verbal contracts don't count in the sale of real estate. </span>Even if you agreed in the presence of witnesses to take their bid, and even if you accepted a good-faith deposit to bind the deal, you couldn't hold them to it if they changed their minds later.<p>Updated: Sun Jul 07, 2019</p> aca983a235f76a6ee7471da7af623def Selling Out of State for 06/30/2019 Sun, 30 Jun 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Ms. Lank: I recently read one of your columns in the paper. R and M.T. wrote that they inherited a property in a different state and wanted to sell it. They were being bothered with correspondences from people they thought wanted to buy the property. I think they would be amazed at how good the Realtors are there. We're from Maryland, and our son and daughter still live there. I think the Realtors there are better than the ones where we live.</p> <p>I know two really great Realtors out there who have bought and sold properties for people in our entire family for years. If your reader wants their names, I would be happy to share them. &#8212;<p>Updated: Sun Jun 30, 2019</p> 4627fbd1490daf336a8f79a593d7b091 Buying at 70 for 06/23/2019 Sun, 23 Jun 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Edith: What do you think of an older person buying a house or a condo? I'll be 70 this year. I am single, and I have excellent credit. I've been looking for an apartment, and landlords seem to really jack up the prices, at lease this time of year. I pay $1,100 a month, so I think I can afford a mortgage. Thanks for your thoughts. &#8212; M.</p> <p>Answer: I know nothing about your finances or where you're looking, so I can't give you advice on that score. But being older is no reason why you shouldn't become a homeowner. I'm old enough to be your mother, and I still live in my own house.<p>Updated: Sun Jun 23, 2019</p> ba49e8c45fef7070f22c11c10a45fa23 No Broker Involved for 06/16/2019 Sun, 16 Jun 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Ms. Lank: I have a family member who would like to buy my senior parents' home in a closed sale (without a real estate agent) to avoid commissions. What are the pros and cons of such an arrangement? I'm a little weary of not including an experienced professional. Thank you. &#8212; W.</p> <p>Answer: Both parties can take appropriate precautions, and there's no reason why they can't settle the matter without employing real estate agents. While brokers are skilled in bringing the parties to agreement, their main job is to help find the desired house and the desired buyers &#8212; both of which you already have.<p>Updated: Sun Jun 16, 2019</p> 914899d06edabaa9f798d1376ea64494 Paid-Off Mortgage for 06/09/2019 Sun, 09 Jun 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Ms. Lank: Once we have paid off our mortgage, how long should we wait to get a clear deed? &#8212; K. F.</p> <p>Answer: In a few states, you're looking for a reconveyance deed, but in most places, what you want is a certificate of satisfaction. Either way, it will prove your loan has been paid off in full (satisfied).</p> <p>If the lender has put this new document on file in your county public records office, that's all you need. In some states, they're required to do so within 90 days of the payoff. Your public records office can tell you how to check.<p>Updated: Sun Jun 09, 2019</p> 75dce832906409d7a09ad98770bc9722 Oral Vs. Written Commitment for 06/02/2019 Sun, 02 Jun 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Dear Edith: I have applied for a mortgage loan to buy a house. I have been told by the loan counselor that I qualified for the loan. Should I ask for a written commitment, or do you think that an oral commitment suffices? &#8212; G. H.</p> <p>Answer: What you have is the counselor's personal opinion, based on the information you furnished when you applied for the loan. A binding commitment from the lending institution will follow in time, if all goes well.</p> <p>Before you receive the loan, there must be confirming documentation about your debts, income, assets and credit rating. Equally important: The house itself must pass an appraisal.<p>Updated: Sun Jun 02, 2019</p> 68fc0e58e36d10d4d5c68ade6b2abe8d Bank Gets Appraisal for 05/26/2019 Sun, 26 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Edith: When we applied for a mortgage, the bank charged us for an appraisal. They said it was so they'd know how much it was safe to lend us. As the new owners of the house, we would like to see that appraisal. They say we can't. But we paid for it. Do we have the right to see it? &#8212; L.R.</p> <p>Answer: When you apply for a loan, you pay for an appraisal and also for a credit check on yourself. Both of those are for the lending institution's use. I expect you agreed somewhere that even though you paid for the documents, they belonged to your lender. In the same fashion, borrowers often pay for a bank's attorney, who represents the bank's best interest rather than the borrowers'.<p>Updated: Sun May 26, 2019</p> 883c67ee60b6e7e5af6188b86459a915 Coordinating the Move for 05/19/2019 Sun, 19 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Edith: Please give me an idea of how to coordinate the sale of my present home with the move-in date for my new home. We have a tentative date of August 2019 for the new house's completion. &#8212; M. H.</p> <p>Answer: Real estate brokers can help dovetail the two transactions. If you don't already know which firm you'll use to market your present home, your builder may have names they can suggest.<p>Updated: Sun May 19, 2019</p>