DEAR BOB: Last September I listed my luxury home for sale with the best real estate agent in the vicinity. She was even recommended by several other local Realtors. My agent insisted on a six-month listing. But, as you often suggest, I requested an unconditional cancellation clause after 90 days. She agreed. This is a one-of-a-kind home so there aren’t any comparables. We had one offer, which I accepted. But the buyer didn’t get a mortgage because his appraiser couldn’t justify the sales price. I realize this is the slow time of year for home sales, but I desperately need to get my home sold in January or February. What should I do? – Henry Y.

DEAR HENRY: Expensive homes often require extensive marketing efforts. Although your listing agent was highly recommended by other local Realtors, maybe she doesn’t have experience successfully selling homes like yours.

Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.

Take a look at her marketing efforts. Other than the usual MLS (Multiple Listing Service) and holding open houses for other local sales agents and the public, what is she doing to market your home?

I suggest you contact those Realtors who recommended your listing agent. Ask them why, in their opinions, your home hasn’t sold.

The most obvious reason a home doesn’t sell is it is overpriced. A price reduction often works wonders.

But there is sometimes an unspoken reason. Just between us, maybe the problem is your listing agent. Some agents are more of an obstacle than a help to selling a home.

If your listing agent couldn’t sell your home during the strong fall sales season, I suggest you consider taking the house off the market and then listing it with another agent, perhaps with a substantial price reduction.


DEAR BOB: I have rented a cooperative apartment for several years. My landlord recently offered to sell it to me at a fair price. However, I am having difficulty finding financing. The few banks that will loan on a co-op require a 25 percent cash down payment, which I don’t have. Also, I learned my co-op is worth about 75 percent less than it would be worth if it were a condo. Why? – Suzanna H.

DEAR SUZANNA: Cooperative apartments are found only in a few areas, such as New York, California, Illinois, Georgia, Washington, D.C., Florida, and a few others. A corporation owns the co-op building and each shareholder holds a proprietary lease on a specific apartment.

The biggest co-op drawbacks are (1) financing and (2) required buyer approval by the board of directors. As a result, many potential buyers won’t even consider buying a co-op apartment unless it is a true bargain compared to a comparable condominium.

Condominiums are much easier than co-ops to finance and sell. Therefore, condos are usually worth much more than comparable cooperatives. For this reason, many co-ops have been converted into condominiums, thus immediately increasing their market values.


DEAR BOB: I bought my house in 1965 for $20,000. Today, a local Realtor says she can easily get $600,000 for it. My problem is I only have that $250,000 home-sale tax exemption you often discuss. I have very low income, only about $450 per month, so I need to sell to take care of my retirement. I was told that if I use the sale proceeds to buy rentals, such as a duplex or triplex, I can avoid tax on my $350,000 taxable profit. Is this true? – Kat C.

DEAR KAT: No. Congratulations on your successful investment in your principal residence. You are known as “property rich but cash poor.”

But selling your home for a big profit and buying rentals won’t avoid tax on your capital gain exceeding $250,000. I presume there is no spouse or co-owner involved.

If you are over 62, and really want to stay in your home, have you thought about getting a reverse mortgage to provide tax-free lifetime monthly income?

Unless you have a compelling reason to sell your longtime home, a reverse mortgage could be ideal to provide the income you obviously need. Details are in my special report, “Secrets of Tax-Free Reverse Mortgage Income for Senior Citizen Homeowners,” 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 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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