DEAR BOB: We are buying a brand-new house. Do you recommend we obtain a professional home inspection, which you suggest for buyers of resale houses? – Terrie R.

DEAR TERRIE: Yes, buyers of brand-new houses should insist on a professional home inspection before taking title. Of course, as the buyer, you get to pay for the inspection so you can accompany your inspector to discuss any defects discovered.

Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.

Although most home builders construct quality homes, even the best builders occasionally make mistakes.

Don’t count on the local building inspector to catch the errors. These inspectors usually do a great job, but sometimes they miss serious problems.

Spending $400 or so to hire your own professional home inspector will be money well spent. If you are a regular reader, you know I recommend hiring a professional inspector who is a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), which has the highest membership standards. You can find local ASHI inspectors at www.ashi.com.

CAN SALE OF HALF OF A HOUSE QUALIFY FOR $250,000 EXEMPTION?

DEAR BOB: Five years ago, my mother-in-law gave a house to my husband and his sister. My husband has lived in the house for three of those five years. We are now remodeling our home and my husband wants to sell his half to his sister. Can he qualify for that $250,000 tax exemption? Are there special tax forms to file? – Sue S.

DEAR SUE: If your husband owned and occupied the house as his principal residence for an “aggregate” 24 of the 60 months before selling his half of the property, he can qualify for the Internal Revenue Code 121 tax exemption up to $250,000 (up to $500,000 if you also meet the occupancy test even if your name is not on the title).

There are no special IRS forms to file when qualifying for the IRC 121 principal residence sale tax exemption. For further details, please consult your tax adviser.

IT’S EASY TO GET OFF THE TITLE BUT NOT OFF THE MORTGAGE

DEAR BOB: My mom co-signed a mortgage on a house that my brother bought about a year ago. He’s not working and has very few assets. So he needed her to co-sign to get a mortgage. Mom is worried that if my brother is sued for whatever reason, and he doesn’t have the resources to pay the judgment, the suing party can go after her assets, mainly the house. How can my mom get her name off the title and the mortgage? – Robert H.

DEAR ROBERT: To get her name off the title, your mom can sign and record a quit claim deed to your brother, thus giving him 100 percent ownership of the house and giving up her ownership interest.

However, she can never get off the mortgage obligation to the lender. If your brother fails to make the mortgage payments, that will adversely reflect on your mother’s credit-score rating. Only if your brother sells the house or refinances the mortgage in his name alone (highly unlikely) will your mother be relieved of that mortgage obligation.

The new Robert Bruss special report, “The 10 Key Questions Condo Sellers Hope Their Buyers Don’t Ask,” is now available for $4 from Robert Bruss, 251 Park Road, Burlingame, CA 94010 or by credit card at 1-800-736-1736 or instant Internet PDF delivery at www.bobbruss.com. Questions for this column are welcome at either address.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center
).

***

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