Long-distance amateurs need help selling property
Q: I recently inherited over five acres in another state. It has a house (needs a new roof) and business potential as it is as the intersection of two highways. Realtors are more than 20 miles away so I'm not sure they would be moved to put a lot of effort into showing it.
Should we put up a large "For Sale by Owner — Business Opportunity" sign out and see if we get any offers? I might be able to arrange for our caretaker to show the house. Should we offer owner financing? Thanks for pointing us in the right direction.
A. You need professional help. Don't try to do this as long-distance amateurs. If you put up a sign, how would you decide how much to ask? Are you sure the property is zoned for a business? Will it be absolutely necessary to take back a mortgage? How would you judge if that were safe?
Ask for free advice from several real estate brokers, even if they are half an hour away. Investigate local newspapers and the Internet to see if it's customary to use auctioneers in that area, and if so, contact them also. Then after you've listened to (and learned from) everyone, pick an agent and put the matter in his or her hands. Choose a broker who shares information through a multiple listing system, or if there isn't one available, a broker who promises to cooperate with other agencies.
If you do take back financing, hold out for a substantial down payment, a clean credit report and proof of dependable income from your buyers.
Q. My granddaughter and family recently purchased and moved into a large, older, renovated home. A reputable experienced person completed the home inspection. Since closing, the washer has leaked, smoke alarms (hard-wired) go off at all hours and the roof leaks. Who should they call? Are they just out of luck?
A. I don't think we can fault the inspector for not testing the washing machine or anticipating an erratic smoke alarm problem. If the sellers are still in town, I suppose your granddaughter could take them to small claims court to see what a judge has to say. She'd want to take in a bill from the electrician who fixed the smoke alarms and an estimate on replacing the washer. She'd better check first, though, whether she signed anything at closing accepting appliances in their current condition.
I do think a home inspector should have caught a roof problem, though, and that one may really be worth going to small claims about. Again, she needs to specify how much she's asking for, with either a bill or an estimate from a roofer. To sue the sellers, she should have some proof they knew about the leak.
Q. My domestic partner and I have been in a relationship for 28 years. He owns the house we live in but would like to leave it to me when he passes. What is the best way for him to leave the house to me? The house is paid in full.
A. It's a simple matter for your partner to sign a will leaving the house to you. I don't know your exact situation, but if he has a wife that may complicate matters. In any event, the lawyer who draws up the will can give him information and advice.
Q. This is not a question but a comment about the column in which you advised sellers how to dispose of old paint. I find it much more helpful when sellers leave cans of paint that were used recently on or in the home, so the buyers can use the paint for touch-ups.
A. Thoughtful advice, assuming the paint is, as you say, recent.
Q. My wife owns an investment property that is fully paid off and is just in her name. We own four additional investment properties, all on mortgages. I would like to put a mortgage on the paid-off property, but apparently there are regulations that prevent this?
Any suggestions as to how I could put a mortgage on the paid off property? I did come across some lending companies that would do loans for around 6 percent on a 15-year term but I am hoping to get a mortgage at around 3.5 percent or lower. I also thought about transferring ownership to my oldest son who is 18 and just started college, but suspect he could not obtain a mortgage and there may be tax implications if I do a transfer.
A. Yes, forget the 18-year-old. You say you can't mortgage that property, but then you say you could do it at a rate you don't like. Frankly, I don't think you'll find rates of "3.5 or lower" for rental property. These days you must expect to pay more when borrowing on investment property than you would for an owner-occupied residence.
At any rate, it shouldn't cost anything to consult some mortgage brokers. They're specialists in putting borrowers and lenders together, and if anything is available, they should know about it.
• 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.
© 2012, Creators Syndicate Inc.
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