DEAR BOB: My house is a classic three-bedroom, 1.75-bathroom cosmetic fixer in a very desirable, quiet residential neighborhood. I am only a half-block from a shopping center, as well as our charming, increasingly upscale, much-photographed main street. Some repainting, wall-to-wall carpets instead of the shabby parquet hardwood floors, minor repairs and fresh landscaping will make all the difference in my house.

But I am disabled, with little money, and have done what I can to make the house attractive before it is officially listed for sale. If my home were in top shape, the Realtor says I could get $75,000 more. I know you have said a cosmetic fixer like mine is a wonderful deal for a savvy buyer. But I am terrified the only people interested will be “bottom feeders” and “low ballers” who want to cheat me out of a fair price. I trust my Realtor’s judgment. Am I right in thinking my home will take much longer to sell because of its limited appeal? –Holly A.

DEAR HOLLY: I hope you interviewed at least three successful realty agents who sell homes in your vicinity before you listed with the best agent for no longer than 90 days.

Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.

If you followed my constant advice to compare the CMA (comparative market analysis) forms of the interviewed agents, you then know the approximate market value of your “as-is” home, so you could set the asking price accordingly.

It sounds like you have a desirable home with a few blemishes. However, you appear to see that it will appeal to a limited market of home buyers willing to put up with the defects, in return for a price discount from a similar home in tip-top condition.

Please don’t get greedy. The first offer is often the best offer you will ever receive. Don’t reject it automatically.

However, if you and your trusted Realtor agree it is far too low, then you can make a written counteroffer at the price you are willing to accept.

Presuming you owned and occupied your principal residence at least 24 of the 60 months before its sale, you probably have a large tax-free profit up to $250,000, thanks to Internal Revenue Code 121. You are in the driver’s seat. Enjoy the home sales experience that will probably make you richer than ever before in your life.


DEAR BOB: We’re selling a house to a friend. The title company says they can handle the transaction for us without a realty agent. Do you see any problems with this approach? We intend to get a professional inspection, appraisal and will complete all the required disclosures – Susan D.

DEAR SUSAN: The primary reason to hire a listing realty agent is to find a buyer. You’ve already done that. So you don’t need a professional agent.

Just be sure you make all the written seller disclosures required where the house is located. You might want to hire a real estate attorney to be certain you comply with all the local requirements.

Thousands of home sales are completed every day without a licensed realty agent. In most situations, after all the disclosures and inspections are completed, a local title or escrow firm can easily handle the details of the title transfer.


DEAR BOB: About 15 years ago, my first wife and I were divorced and we went our separate ways. However, I recently received an excellent purchase offer for the vacant lot next door to our house to which I received the title in our divorce. But my ex-wife and I still own the vacant lot together. I have no idea where she now lives. Perhaps she is deceased. I do know her parents are deceased and her only brother died about five years ago. What should I do because I really want to sell this lot fast?–Edward E.

DEAR EDWARD: Contact a local real estate or probate attorney. You probably will need to bring a quiet title lawsuit in court to determine the title status of the lot.

Depending on the result, the court might order the title quieted in your name. Or, the court could allow you to sell the lot with half of the sales proceeds held in trust until the status of your ex-wife’s interest can be determined. This is definitely not a quick do-it-yourself project.

The new Robert Bruss special report, “2006 Realty Tax Tips: Eight Chapters of Tax Savings for Homeowners and Realty Investors,” is now available for $5 from Robert Bruss, 251 Park Road, Burlingame, CA 94010 or by credit card at 1-800-736-1736 or instant Internet PDF delivery at 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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