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posted: 7/2/2011 12:01 AM

On homes and real estate: Extension is seller's decision, not agent's

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Q. I am trying to close on a home. However, because I failed to file in 2008 and 2009, I have to wait for the IRS to put my returns into their system. It's going to go beyond my closing date, and the listing agent is unwilling to give an extension. Is there anything I can do? I still want that house.

A. I haven't seen your sales contract, so I don't know if the closing date listed is legally set in stone or only a target date. In any event, it would be the seller's decision, not the agent's, about an extension.

Take your documents to a lawyer for advice.

Q. I have a mortgage in Florida with someone else paying it. It was a favor that is now going wrong. I bought it for them, but I think it's now worth much less.

Is there any way that I can get this out of my name and put it in their names? Or if I just sell it for whatever I can, how does this affect me if they still owe?

A. You don't say who actually owns the property, but it sounds as if you do. You may be able to transfer title to their names, along with the mortgage, assuming they now have good credit and enough income to qualify. Sometimes the lender will let them take over the mortgage, and you'd be free of any further obligation.

Otherwise, though, nobody else is going to buy the place unless the mortgage is paid off. I don't see how you could sell, unless you did some successful negotiating with the lender.

Q. I have a question about something I've not seen in your column. The company I work for is opening an office several hundred miles from where I live now and I am considering relocating. My biggest concern is the issue of getting a house in the new area.

How does it work when someone is relocating and needs to sell their current home as well as buy one in the new area? Do banks typically give people mortgages on a new house if they still haven't been able to sell their previous one?

My employer has stated that if my current home is not sold by the time I move, they would make the mortgage payments until it does sell. I'm just concerned about being able to get another mortgage in the meantime. I know people relocate for work all the time, so there must be some typical procedure for doing this.

A. Yes, yours is a common situation. Real estate brokers know how to set up contracts that they hope will dovetail, settlement agents work with situations like yours all the time, and lots of homeowners have been through the process that faces you. Problems do come up, but they always get solved, one way or another.

When you need to buy one home before you've received the proceeds from the sale of your previous one, it's sometimes possible to get what is known as a "bridge" loan -- a personal loan to cover the intervening period. Your own bank would be the best place to explore that possibility.

To sell your present home promptly, set a bargain price. If it's low enough, offers will come. Once you choose a broker, listen carefully to his or her advice on the subject of pricing.

Trust me, it'll all work out.

Q. Our home is worth a lot less than we paid for it, considering all the money we've spent on it since then. We have a longtime rental property in another state where things are fine. And if we sold it, we'd have a big capital gain. Can we sell our home and use the loss on our tax return to subtract from the profit on the rental?

A. Good idea, but it won't work. A loss on the sale of your own residence is not tax-deductible -- any more than a loss on the sale of your car would be.

Reader tip: I recently noticed that a reader asked what to do about his house that needed repairs, credit issues, etc. You may want to suggest that he check on www.hud.gov for the HUD-approved housing counseling agency in his area. A housing counselor could review and give recommendations on his credit as well as help him figure out what his goals and options are in regard to his housing situation. They generally provide these services at no cost.

A. Thanks for a valuable reminder. You're not the only one who wrote in with that advice.

• Edith Lank will respond to questions sent to her at 240 Hemingway Drive, Rochester, N.Y. 14620 (include a stamped return envelope), or readers may email her through askedith.com.

$PHOTOCREDIT_ON$ 2011, Creators Syndicate Inc.$PHOTOCREDIT_OFF$

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