Timeshare worked out
Q. 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 estate fee -- I think 12 percent. But it sold quickly for double the original cost. We were pleased and surprised.
It is on the beach in Siesta Key, Florida, but it was the last week of July, which is not high season in that area. It had been in the family for over 20 years. I just wanted to share my experience to say that not all time shares are a burden.
A. If I usually print problems from timeshare owners in this column, it's because the owners with problems write in. We don't usually hear about when things work out fine, so thanks for letting us know about your experience.
Reselling through the development managers is an excellent way to go. That only works, of course, if they're ready to handle it and the properties are in demand. The commission rate was high because the sale amount was probably relatively low.
Your family didn't exactly double its money. Allowing for purchasing power and inflation, you did see a real profit of about one-third of your folks' investment. And there were, of course, all those years your family enjoyed reunions and relatively inexpensive vacations.
Q. My significant other and I are starting to look for a home to buy. Do you have any advice?
A. Over the years, laws have evolved to provide for what happens if and when a married couple runs into unforeseen circumstances -- they divorce, one dies, etc. These days, though, unrelated partners are buying together in greater numbers than ever before.
My first advice is something you may not want to hear.
Go to a lawyer together and sign what might be called a pre-non-nuptial agreement. This will answer questions like if one of you were to die, who would get that person's share? If you broke up, how would the equity in the house be divided? A lawyer can probably think of other possibilities to be addressed in advance, particularly if one of you was previously married or has children.
Q. We have been looking at condominiums, and my brother says it could cost us more than just the fees we'd be paying every month. He says the landlord could require us to pay large extra charges at any time, and we wouldn't have any choice but to pay them. That doesn't seem right. Could the landlord really do that?
A. When you buy into a condominium association, there isn't a landlord. You, yourselves, are part owners of the whole development. When the place needs a new roof, for example, there isn't anyone except the homeowners association to pay for it. That's why you need to look into the financial health of the organization before you buy.
You should be given financial statements, and if you don't know how to read them, you may want to consult an accountant or a lawyer. Pay attention to the reserve -- the money set aside to cover future costs, particularly for replacing large items like roofing or heating equipment.
You should also look into the vacancy rate in the development. If the place is partly empty, a larger burden will be put on the remaining owners.
Condominiums can be an excellent way to organize a real estate development, but you need to understand what's involved.
Q. We have owned an apartment in Florida for many years, but we aren't using it anymore. I am going to hire a company to rent it out for us, but it is asking for a lot of commission and part of each month's rent to find a tenant. Are there any laws about how much the company can charge? What if the company rents it to someone who tells us they want to buy it? Would we owe the managers a commission if we only hired them to rent it out?
A. There are no laws governing how much property managers can charge owners. Contact several different companies to see how the fees compare.
As for commission in the event of a possible sale, that would depend on what it said in your written contract with the management firm. If it isn't mentioned, you should have no liability, unless you accepted some services connected with the sale. As a practical matter, though, you might want to retain the firm to handle a sale down there, assuming it did offer that service.
• Contact Edith Lank on www.askedith.com, or 240 Hemingway Drive, Rochester NY 14620.
© 2016, Creators Syndicate