DEAR BOB: Six months ago, I moved into a condo I purchased. It was an apartment building conversion to condominiums. I discovered there is virtually no soundproofing between my unit and my neighbors above. They keep different hours than I do. Their animals are up at all hours. I haven’t slept a full night since moving in. I’ve been back and forth with them and the homeowner’s association, but with no results. Is there a city ordinance that requires the noise between condo units to be below a certain level? Some nights it sounds like my upstairs neighbors are in my own room with me, especially when they drop things or make a racket. It has become unbearable. What can I do, as I’m desperate? – Jennifer H.
DEAR JENNIFER: Most cities do not have any noise ordinances affecting condos. But I understand your problem extremely well because I had a similar problem with the first condo I owned. If it is any comfort, bad soundproofing is the number one complaint of most condo owners.
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My upstairs neighbors had nightly loud arguments with their wayward teenage son. Until then, I never heard parents and their teenager use such obscene language.
At first, it was free entertainment. I couldn’t believe parents and their son talked to each other that way. It was like a TV soap opera without censors. But it later grew intolerable, much like your situation.
My neighbors ignored my polite requests to hold their noise down. The homeowner association was no help.
I hired a contractor to soundproof my condo ceilings. That helped, except when the loud arguments occurred in their kitchen, above mine, which couldn’t be soundproofed because of the cabinets.
Eventually, I sold my condo at a huge profit after disclosing the problem to the buyer who didn’t seem concerned. Ironically, about two months later, the upstairs condo owners sold their condo due to a corporate job transfer.
You might want to retain an attorney to bring a lawsuit against your upstairs neighbors to abate a private nuisance. Soundproofing your condo could be quite expensive and might not solve the problem. For more details, please consult a local real estate attorney.
SELLING HOME “SUBJECT TO” MORTGAGE WAS BENEFICIAL
DEAR BOB: About two years ago, we were desperate to sell our house. It was only two bedrooms. But most buyers wanted three or four bedrooms. Our Realtor had our listing six months and was unable to sell it. After the listing expired, we ran a newspaper ad: “Take over payments. Open house Sunday.” We were swamped by good prospective buyers. We sold to a young doctor and his wife. They paid us the cash down payment we needed and faithfully paid our mortgage on time every month. Now the house has been sold again so our mortgage was paid off. Thank you for telling us about selling “subject to” the existing mortgage otherwise we would still own that house – Harvey T.
DEAR HARVEY: I’m glad your “subject to” mortgage sale worked out well.
For readers not familiar with a “subject to” sale, that means the home buyer does not formally assume the existing mortgage obligation. Of course, the buyer must make the monthly payments or lose the house by foreclosure.
A “subject to” home sale technically violates the mortgage-due-on-sale clause. However, mortgage lenders rarely enforce such clauses unless the payments are not being made on time.
Your big risk, as a seller, was the doctor and his wife would default on the mortgage payments. Since they had not assumed the mortgage obligation, such a default wouldn’t hurt them (except for losing the house by foreclosure).
But their default would harm your credit rating because you were still obligated for those mortgage payments. You made a wise decision to sell to the doctor and his wife who took their financial obligations seriously.
MORTGAGE JUNK FEE PROTEST PAID OFF
DEAR BOB: Thank you for explaining mortgage junk fees so many times. When we recently bought our first home, we immediately spotted the lender’s dirty trick of sneaking in junk fees, which were not on the “good faith estimate” of loan costs. My husband, who is a union negotiator, had lots of fun with the mortgage company. But he saved us about $3,500 in unnecessary junk fees, which the lender tried to sneak in at the closing without advance notice. Thanks for saving us that $3,500 – Nancy R.
DEAR NANCY: Congratulations to you and your husband. The definition of a mortgage junk or garbage fee is a charge that goes directly into the lender’s pocket without any specific benefit to the borrower.
Junk fee examples include underwriting fee, loan review fee, processing charge, documentation fee, administration fee, and, when lenders get desperate, a miscellaneous fee. Legitimate mortgage fees are paid to third parties for services, such as an appraisal fee, credit report fee, attorney or escrow fee, title insurance fee, notary fee, and recording fee.
The new Robert Bruss special report, “Pros and Cons of Earning Big Profits from Foreclosures and Bargain Distress Properties,” 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 download at www.bobbruss.com. Questions for this column are welcome at either address.
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